A player getting released because his performance doesn't justify his salary is a way of life in the NFL, where contracts aren't fully guaranteed. When a player is released or traded, the remaining proration of the salary components that are treated like signing bonus immediately accelerate into his team's current salary cap.

For example, if a player signs a five-year contract with a $10 million signing bonus, $2 million of his signing bonus counts toward the salary cap for each year of his contract. If he is released after the second year of his contract, the $4 million of signing bonus proration from the last two years of the five-year contract automatically accelerates into the club's current cap, so there is a $6 million cap charge for the player. This cap charge for a player who is no longer on a team's roster is commonly referred to as dead money.

There are, however, two major exceptions to this general rule of bonus proration accelerating. Only the current year's proration counts toward the cap with players released or traded after June 1. The bonus proration in future contract years is delayed until the following season. A team also can release two players each year prior to June 1 (known as a post-June 1 designation) that will be treated under the cap as if they were released after June 1. With a post-June 1 designation, a team is required to carry the player's full cap number until June 2, even though he is no longer on the roster. The player's salary comes off the books at that time unless it is guaranteed.

Here's a look at 10 players who could be in different uniforms next season because of their sizeable contracts.


2017 salary cap number: $24.7 million
2017 compensation: $14 million
2017 dead money: $19.6 million ($10.7 million with Post-June 1 treatment)
2017 salary cap savings: $5.1 million ($14 million with Post-June 1 treatment)

Playing his entire career with the Cowboys seems like a long shot. Dak Prescott's surprising play while Romo recovered from a compression fracture in his back resulted in the veteran losing the starting job he held for nearly a decade.

Romo leading the Cowboys to a touchdown in his one drive against the Eagles during Sunday's regular season finale, his first real game action since Week 12 in 2015, was a good showcase for teams that might have an interest in trading for him. He would prefer for Dallas to release him so he would be free to choose his next destination. Romo's best chance of getting his wish is through a personal appeal to Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, with whom he has a special relationship. This would be beneficial to the Cowboys salary cap-wise because Romo's dead money could be taken in 2017 and 2018 with a post-June 1 designation. The Cowboys might not be able to get more than a mid-round draft pick for Romo, anyway, given his injury history and the fact he turns 37 in April.


2017 salary cap number: $18 million
2017 compensation: $18 million
2017 dead money: None
2017 salary cap savings: $18 Million

He was off to an extremely slow start this past season before tearing the meniscus in his right knee against the Packers in Week 2, forcing him to miss the Vikings' next 11 games. He was ineffective in his quicker-than-expected return in Week 15, rushing for only 22 yards on six carries in a 34-6 loss to the Colts. A groin injury kept Peterson out of the final two games.

Adrian Peterson will have to take a steep pay cut if he wants to stay a Viking. USATSI

The Vikings have an option for 2017 consisting of an $11.75 million base salary, a $6 million roster bonus due on the third day of the 2017 league year (March 11) and a $250,000 workout bonus that must be exercised prior to the last day of the 2016 league year, which is March 9. Peterson, who turns 32 in March, will need to take a drastic pay cut to put his salary in line with the running back market to remain with the Vikings in 2017 and beyond.


2017 salary cap number: $19,365,753
2017 compensation: $16.9 million
2017 dead money: $2,465,753
2017 salary cap savings: $16.9 million

A divorce between the 49ers and Kaepernick has seemed inevitable since he was given permission to seek a trade in the offseason. Reworking his contract early in the season helped paved the way for Kaepernick to the reclaim the starting job he lost to Blaine Gabbert in 2015.

The final three years of Kaepernick's contract (2018-2020) were eliminated in the renegotiation. Kaepernick also received an option to void his 2017 contract year. This can take place between seven days and two days prior to the start of the 2017 league year, which is March 2 to March 7, and he is expected to void the deal. The firings of Chip Kelly and general manager Trent Baalke makes Kaepernick's return unlikely since the next 49ers regime will probably want to bring in its own quarterback.


2017 salary cap number: $15,333,333
2017 compensation: $16 million
2017 dead money: $7 million
2017 salary cap savings: $8,333,333

A trip to Revis Island used to mean a wide receiver essentially was eliminated from the game because of blanket coverage. That's not the case anymore. In fact, receivers enjoyed trips to Revis Island this past season because of the hospitality. The decline in Revis' play was alarming considering he had been the NFL's preeminent shutdown cornerback for several years.

Would Darrelle Revis welcome a move to safety? USATSI

The Jets have been toying with the idea of moving Revis to safety next season, like Charles Woodson and Rod Woodson did in the latter stages of their careers, on a renegotiated deal. It might only be a consideration because $6 million of Revis' 2017 base salary is fully guaranteed. Should the Jets decide to move on before Revis is due a $2 million roster bonus on March 10, part, if not all, of the guarantee would be recouped provided he signs with another team instead of retiring.


2017 salary cap number: $15,913,334
2017 compensation: $27.5 million
2017 dead money: $5,953,334
2017 salary cap savings: $9.96 million

Buffalo benching the QB for the season finale after coach Rex Ryan was fired suggests the option on his contract for an additional five years at $82.5 million (worth up to $101.75 million through salary escalators and incentives) won't be picked up. Taylor's saving grace could be interim coach Anthony Lynn wanting to keep him if he becomes Ryan's full-time successor.

The way Taylor's contract works is his $27.5 million 2017 base salary is guaranteed for injury now. If the option is picked up, Taylor receives a $15.5 million bonus and his 2017 base salary reduces to a fully guaranteed $12 million. Taylor will be $6.5 million better off than if he hadn't signed a contract extension in the preseason and played out his contract with his release. The Bills would get a $3.1 million salary cap credit in 2018 from the 2017 proration of the $15.5 million option bonus. Taylor undergoing possible groin surgery isn't expected to impact a decision on him.


2017 salary cap number: $16 million
2017 compensation: $15 million
2017 dead money: $2 million
2017 salary cap savings: $14 million

Guaranteed money in his contract was the primary reason he remained in Chicago when coach John Fox and general manager Ryan Pace took over in 2015. The guarantees made trading Cutler virtually impossible and releasing him unpalatable. These concerns no longer exist because there isn't any guaranteed money left on Cutler's contract.

Jay Cutler will likely be one of the top QBs in the 2017 free-agent class. USATSI

Fox and Pace hitching their wagons to Cutler in 2017 when their jobs could be on the line after a 3-13 season seems remote. It appeared as if Brian Hoyer, who is an impending free agent, had played well enough replacing an injured Cutler that he was likely to remain the starter before being sidelined for the season in late October with a broken left arm.


Jamaal Charles
RB

2017 salary cap number: $7 million
2017 compensation: $7 million
2017 dead money: None
2017 salary cap savings: $7 million

Charles is no longer instrumental to Kansas City's success. Surprisingly, the Chiefs won 11 straight games in 2015, including the playoffs, with Spencer Ware and Charcandrick West operating in his place after Charles suffered the second ACL tear of his career. Charles was limited to only three games because of his knees before landing on injured reserve.

Ware has taken advantage of the increased workload, rushing for a career high 921 yards in the 2016 regular season. The Chiefs are AFC West champions with minimal contribution from Charles. The nearly identical three-year, $4.2 million deals (worth a maximum of $8.2 million with salary escalators) Ware and West signed in the offseason make the 30-year-old Charles an expensive luxury in Kansas City.


2017 salary cap number: $9.4 million
2017 compensation: $7.5 million
2017 dead money: $1.9 million
2017 salary cap savings: $7.5 million

Cruz wisely took a substantial pay cut to remain with the Giants following two years of injury woes. He tore the patellar tendon in his right knee six games into the 2014 season and missed the entire 2015 season because of a calf injury.

Will Victor Cruz be doing the salsa elsewhere in 2017? USATSI

The 2011 All-Pro has expressed frustration about being an afterthought in the passing game this season. Sterling Shepard, a second-round pick in 2016, taking over the slot wide receiver role Cruz excelled in before the knee injury has forced him to primarily play on the outside. Cruz would like to stay with the Giants, but his comeback season performance (39 catches for 586 yards and one touchdown) may not warrant an opportunity to take another pay cut.


2017 salary cap number: $8.3 million
2017 compensation: $7.1 million
2017 dead money: $3.6 million
2017 salary cap savings: $4.7 million

Thomas has been a major disappointment since signing a five-year, $46 million contract as a free agent in 2015. He has made $21.7 million during two injury-plagued seasons with the Jaguars in which he has 76 catches for 736 yards and nine touchdowns in only 21 games.

Jacksonville will have to act fast if it decides to part ways with Thomas because $3 million of his $7 million 2017 base salary becomes fully guaranteed on the fifth day of the 2017 waiver period, which is February 10.


2017 salary cap number: $7 million
2017 compensation: $7 million
2017 dead money: None
2017 salary cap savings: $7 Million

Martin's recent four-game suspension for violating the league's performance enhancing drugs policy gives the Buccaneers an out on the five-year, $35.75 million contract he signed in the offseason after finishing second in the NFL in 2015 with 1,402 rushing yards. The five-year contract is worth up to $42,937,500 with salary escalators and incentives and contains $15 million fully guaranteed.

Doug Martin followed up his brilliant 2015 season with a stinker. USATSI

The suspension, which includes the first three regular-season games in 2017, allows Tampa Bay to void Martin's $7 million 2017 base salary guarantee. Martin rushed for a career low 421 yards on a career-worst 2.9 yards per carry while being limited to eight games primarily because of a hamstring injury.


Other potential salary cap casualties