Antonio Cromartie was the first. He probably won't be the last.
The New York Jets, attempting to get their salary-cap house in order before the start of free agency, will continue to cut payroll by releasing players and/or re-working contracts. They saved $8 million with Cromartie's release, giving them approximately $21 million in cap room (based on a projected $155 million cap). Putting on my capologist hat, I suspect they'll need at least $35 million to tag Muhammad Wilkerson, re-sign Ryan Fitzpatrick and Damon Harrison and have enough flexibility to add a couple of moderately-priced free agents.
A quick look at who might be next on the chopping block:
Jeff Cumberland, tight end: He couldn't secure a niche in Chan Gailey's offense, resulting in diminished playing time. He'd be an easy cut because he had no signing bonus on the three-year, $5.7 million contract he signed in 2014, meaning no pro-ration.
Cap number: $1.9 million
Cap savings: $1.9 million
Dead money: $0
Jeremy Kerley, wide receiver/punt returner: He's a proven slot receiver, but he had no role on offense. He has no guaranteed money remaining from the four-year, $14 million extension he signed in 2014. They could ask him to take a pay cut, but he'd do better on the open market. The Jets could increase the savings to $2.5 million by designating him a June 1 cut.
Cap number: $3.1 million
Cap savings: $1.3 million
Dead money: $1.8 million
Breno Giacomini, right tackle: He had a mediocre year, so some people are speculating he could be a cap casualty. Thing is, there's no proven replacement on the roster. The Jets like Brent Qvale, but enough to make him a starter?
Cap number: $5.625 million
Cap savings: $4.375 million
Dead money: $1.25 million
Nick Folk, kicker: There are no certainties when you're a 31-year-old kicker coming off an injury to your money leg. Throw in a relatively high cap number, and you end up on a list like this.
Cap number: $3.34 million
Cap savings: $2.2 million
Dead money: $1.2 million