The NFL has streamlined the roster cutdown process this year, eliminating the roster reduction from 90 players to 75 players after the third preseason weekend. Although it's no longer a requirement, some teams are cutting a few players heading into the preseason finale. Since more players are going to be available for the final preseason tilt, fewer starters and key reserves will be risking injury playing in this relatively meaningless exhibition contest. Teams are still required to reduce rosters to a maximum of 53 players by 4 p.m. ET Saturday.

The roster cutdown process is a one of the most nerve-racking times of the NFL season, especially for players on the roster bubble. Cutdowns can signify the end of careers for some veteran players, particularly older ones.

Older players can be vulnerable during cutdowns because versatility and financial consideration are sometimes pivotal factors in roster decisions. Seasoned veterans are at a disadvantage for these roster spots because playing special teams is usually a necessity for those composing the back end of a roster. Backup older players have limited utility unless making a significant contribution to the offense or defense (i.e.; pass rushing specialist, nickel defensive back, third-down receiver, etc.). Typically, they haven't been mainstays on special teams since early in their careers before becoming starters.

Teams will attempt to trade players that could fill pressing needs on other teams before they are released. The trade efforts usually aren't successful. Other teams know these players are likely to be available shortly without requiring anything in return. For example, the 49ers couldn't find any takers on outside linebacker Ahmad Brooks before letting him go prior to their third preseason game.

Only the current year's proration of the salary components that are treated like signing bonus count toward the salary cap when players are released or traded after June 1. The bonus proration in future contract years is delayed until the following season, which is 2018 for any player released during cutdowns. A salary cap charge for a player that is no longer on a team's roster is commonly referred to as dead money.

Here's a look at several notable veteran players that may not survive Saturday's cutdowns and the salary cap implications if they are released.

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Brock Osweiler is one of several veterans on the bubble. USATSI

Brock Osweiler, QB, Browns

  • 2017 salary cap number: $16 million
  • 2017 compensation: $16 million (fully guaranteed base salary)
  • 2017 dead money: $16 million
  • 2018 dead money: None
  • 2017 salary cap savings: None

The Browns made the most unexpected move of the early offseason in bringing an NBA approach to the NFL by letting the Texans pawn off 2016's biggest free-agent bust. Houston had to give the Browns, who have been placing a premium on draft capital, their 2018 second-round pick and a 2017 sixth-round pick in order for Cleveland to take on Osweiler's $16 million fully guaranteed 2017 base salary and his unsecured 2018 and 2019 contract years worth $35 million. A 2017 fourth-round pick was acquired by the Texans from the Browns in the process.

Osweiler started Cleveland's first two preseason games, giving the impression he could emerge from a quarterback competition with second-round rookie DeShone Kizer and third-round sophomore Cody Kessler. But coach Hue Jackson announced after the team's third preseason game that Kizer will be Cleveland's starting quarterback in their first regular-season game against the Steelers on Sept. 10.

Osweiler's playing time may have just been a way for the Browns to showcase him for a trade, but they are going to have an extremely difficult time moving Osweiler even if a significant portion of his base salary is converted to a signing bonus before a trade, making the acquiring team only responsible for a fraction of the fully guaranteed $16 million where there's also an exchange of late-round 2018 draft picks.

Browns head coach Hue Jackson hasn't decided who will be Cleveland's No. 2 quarterback. Veteran backup quarterbacks playing behind a rookie can add value serving as a mentor for the first-time starter. Osweiler doesn't bring much to the table in this regard because of his own inexperience. He only has 23 career starts, including playoff games, in his five NFL seasons.

Osweiler's guarantee has an offset, so the guaranteed money Cleveland owes him if released would be reduced by the amount of his new deal with another team. However, it's unlikely the Browns would get much salary cap relief, because Osweiler would likely sign a one-year deal at or near his $775,000 league minimum salary.

Geno Smith, QB, Giants

  • 2017 salary cap number: $1,087,500
  • 2017 compensation: $1.2 million ($100,000 base salary guarantee)
  • 2017 dead money: $300,000
  • 2017 salary cap savings: $787,500

The Jets' 2013 second-round pick is locked in a battle with journeyman Josh Johnson to be Eli Manning's primary backup. Third-round rookie Davis Webb's roster spot is secure. Head coach Ben McAdoo acknowledged that performance in the preseason finale versus the Patriots could be the determining factor to whether Smith or Johnson is retained.

Chris Johnson, RB, Cardinals

  • 2017 salary cap number: $1,087,500
  • 2017 compensation: $1.35 million ($200,000 base salary guarantee)
  • 2017 dead money: $200,000
  • 2017 salary cap savings: $887,500

Two fumbles and a dropped pass against the Falcons in the third preseason game could help prevent Johnson from spending a third season in Arizona, even though the Cardinals are likely to keep four running backs. David Johnson is the workhorse. Kerwynn Williams is a return man. The final spot will come down to Johnson or Andre Ellington if Elijhaa Penny's ability to play special teams, which the other two don't do, is valued.

Victor Cruz, WR, Bears

  • 2017 salary cap number: $2,468,750
  • 2017 compensation: $2 million
  • 2017 dead money: $500,000
  • 2017 salary cap savings: $1,968,750

Cruz hasn't been the same player since tearing the patellar tendon in his right knee six games into the 2014 season and missing the 2015 season because of a calf injury. The 2011 All-Pro expressed frustration about being an afterthought in the Giants' passing game last season before becoming a salary cap casualty this past February.

Cruz getting limited action in the third preseason game despite the receiving corps being in disarray could be telling. He was only on the field for six plays. According to Pro Football Focus, Cruz was in for just two of the 18 offensive snaps in the first half after Cam Meredith suffered a season-ending ACL tear. Cruz didn't do himself any favors during by dropping a catchable pass late in the fourth quarter.

Eric Winston, OT, Bengals

  • 2017 salary cap number: $695,000
  • 2017 compensation: $1.08 million
  • 2017 dead money: $80,000
  • 2018 dead money: $500,000
  • 2017 salary cap savings: $615,000

After right tackle Andre Smith left during the 2016 offseason, Winston received more playing time than expected because of the shortcomings of 2015 first-round pick Cedric Ogbuehi and 2015 second-round pick Jake Fisher. Smith is back after an injury-plagued year in Minnesota, while Ogbuehi and Fisher are manning the left and right tackle spots after Andrew Whitworth signed with the Rams in free agency. Smith's ability to be a swing tackle, as well as a less-than-stellar preseason by the 33-year-old Winston, might make the NFLPA president expendable despite his low cost to the team.

Stephone Anthony, LB, Saints

  • 2017 salary cap number: $2,108,651
  • 2017 compensation: $1,137,884 (fully guaranteed base salary)
  • 2017 dead money: $2,108,651
  • 2018 dead money: $970,757
  • 2017 salary cap savings: None

The 2015 first-round pick earned All-Rookie team honors after leading the Saints with 112 tackles while playing 93 percent of the team's defensive snaps, but a move from middle linebacker to the strong side in 2016 was a disaster. Anthony quickly fell out of favor before eventually landing on injured reserve with a knee injury. The Saints overhauled their linebacker unit in the offseason, bringing in A.J. Klein and Manti Te'o during free agency and using a third-round pick on Alex Anzalone. Those new additions, plus a minor injury that has sidelined Anthony since the preseason opener, have helped keep him from trying to recapture his rookie year success.

Lamarr Houston, LB, Bears

  • 2017 salary cap number: $6.99 million
  • 2017 compensation: $6 million
  • 2017 dead money: $1.04 million
  • 2018 dead money: $990,000
  • 2017 salary cap savings: $5.95 million

Houston's recent return from his second ACL tear in three years has been encouraging. $6 million is a high salary for a situational pass rusher, although cap room isn't an issue for the Bears thanks to more than $15 million of space. Uncertainty surrounding outside linebacker Pernell McPhee's knee or a willingness to take a pay cut could be Houston's saving grace.

Graham Gano, K, Panthers

  • 2017 salary cap number: $4 million
  • 2017 compensation: $3.25 million
  • 2017 dead money: $800,000
  • 2017 salary cap savings: $3.2 million

Gano making 78.9 percent of his field goal attempts in 2016, which ranked 25th in the NFL, prompted the Panthers to use a seventh-round pick on Harrison Butker. Gano has made three of his four preseason field goal attempts (his lone miss being from 50 yards out) and all five extra points tries, while Butker is 2 for 2 both on field goal and extra point attempts, including a 51-yard field goal. Panthers head coach Ron Rivera called the kicker competition a dead heat heading into the preseason finale against the Steelers, but the financial equation heavily favors Butker. His entire four-year contract is slightly over $700,000 less than Gano's $3.2 million 2017 base salary.