It's that time of year where NFL teams, and fans, are drooling over the possibility of adding a great player to their team. Free agency captures everyone's attention, with every rumor and possible signing making news all across the internet. But, this time of year is not just about teams adding players. There are also players getting released as teams try to find salary cap space. Two big name players found that out today as the Carolina Panthers released cornerback Chris Gamble and the Pittsburgh Steelers cut linebacker James Harrison.
Of course, both could re-sign with their respective teams, for much less money than they were making, but, as of now, they are free to talk to - and sign - with another team. Players released by a team are free to sign a contract immediately upon their release, not having to wait until their contract officially expires on Tuesday like the rest of the free agent class.
Gamble being released has long been expected. Carolina was over the 2013 salary cap and had to make the move. Cutting Gamble gives the Panthers $7.9 million in cap relief, but it also weakens the team's secondary. Gamble was injured last year, playing in just four games, but without Gamble on the roster, the Panthers will have to turn to "a group of mid-round draft picks, and un-drafted free agents to fill their CB position."
Gamble could be pursued by the Miami Dolphins, who are expected to lose starting cornerback Sean Smith in free agency this year. Even if they somehow bring back Smith, adding the nine-year veteran Gamble could help shore up a weak secondary in Miami.
As for a player the Dolphins will likely have zero interest in this offseason, the Steelers' release of Harrison will give them about $6 million in salary cap space this year. Harrison has had knee problems as of late, and is 35 years old, so he could be headed to retirement rather than another year, although he is expected to draw the attention of some teams. Just don't expect it to be Miami.