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Where will the ax fall?

Posted by Albert Breer  January 13, 2010 09:31 AM

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One underrated element of the upcoming uncapped environment is how teams will be able to get out from underneath bad contracts without real penalty, and how this could be the only opportunity to do so, with the future uncertain.

These will likely come at the start of the new league year (also the start of free agency), when the cap is eliminated.

Adalius Thomas would be the first man on the chopping block. Under the old system, the Patriots would be facing a $9.4 million cap charge if he remained with the team. If they cut him, they'd carry $8.8 million in dead money on their cap, meaning this would be a tough decision, either way.

But without a cap -- and Thomas' $4.9 million salary in 2010 looming -- it's a pretty good bet he'll be gone.

Matt Light might be in a similar spot. In the final year of his deal, Light is scheduled to make $4.5 million. The Patriots just locked up right tackle Nick Kaczur for four years at a very affordable rate, and rookie Sebastian Vollmer looked this year very much like the future at the position that Light held down for the last nine years. So Light could be expendable as well.

Other players who could be "under review"? Randy Moss is slated to make $6.4 million next year, although with Tom Brady in a contract year, this probably isn't the time to drain his offensive help any further. Maybe James Sanders? He's set to make $2.3 million in 2010, and while he came on strong at the end of the year, the Patriots invested in replacing him with a second-round pick, in Patrick Chung, and have the guy who started over him, Brandon McGowan, there as a cheaper insurance policy ($730,000).
News, analysis and commentary from Boston.com's staff writers and contributors, including Zuri Berry and Erik Frenz.

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