Three Bengals with salary cap questions heading into summer

These three Cincinnati Bengals players need to perform well in training camp and the preseason to avoid being cut prior to the 2014 NFL season.

The first of nine practices start Tuesday morning to kick off Phase III of the Cincinnati Bengals’ voluntary offseason workout program. Everyone on the roster is likely going to be there, sans a few players recovering from injuries and/or resurgences.

Now that the Bengals coaches will get to see all of their guys on the field (without pads), they can begin to get an idea of what the 53-man roster will look like. They'll also begin to have a better idea of which veterans they may be willing to part with to shed salary.

There are several Bengals with salary-cap concerns that could lead to their eventual release. Here's a look at three of them.

Defensive end Robert Geathers

2013 Wasn't exactly a terrible year for Geathers after he agreed on a three-year, $9.45 million deal to remain in Cincinnati. But a serious elbow injury ended his year after just two weeks into the season.

Geathers has a cap hit of $2.7 million in 2014, but he could end up being buried on the depth chart, depending on how well Will Clarke plays as a rookie and how far Margus Hunt as progressed in Year 2.

Assuming Carlos Dunlap and Wallace Gilberry start, that means Geathers could be the fourth or fifth DE on the depth chart. His last healthy season came in 2012, when he was the third-worst graded Bengals player by Pro Football Focus (-12.6).

You'd be hard-pressed to find an NFL team who pays their fifth-best DE $2.7 million. Geathers is in for the fight of his life to hold onto a roster spot with the Bengals this year.

Middle linebacker Ray Maualuga

The Bengals have a bevy of linebackers, and there is going to be at least one quality backer get cut. Rey Maualuga looks like he'll have his starting middle linebacker spot back, but if doesn't, his $3.8 million cap hit is too much for a backup linebacker.

If the Bengals cut him, they'll save $2.7 million this year. It doesn't help Maualuga that there are younger, cheaper options available to the Bengals. Pro Football Focus graded him at -10.2 in 2013, the third-worst of any Bengal.

Emmanuel Lamur, Vincent Rey and Vontaze Burfict are better linebackers anyhow, and Sean Porter, Marquise Flowers and Jayson DiManche are promising young prospects.

Do the Bengals cut one of them to keep Maualuga, even if it's just as a backup?

Running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis

Now that the Bengals have Jeremy Hill, BenJarvus Green-Ellis is no longer Cincinnati's best option in short-yardage situations, and Hill will come significantly cheaper.

Green-Ellis is scheduled to earn $2.3 million in base salary with a $3 million cap hit in 2014 -- the final year of a three-year agreement that began in 2012. If the Bengals release Green-Ellis, they'd save $2.5 million in cap savings while being on the hook for $500,000 in dead money.

He turns 29 in July and is coming off a season in which he averaged a career-low 3.4 yards per carry. According to Pro Football Focus, Green-Ellis was ranked 52 out of 55 running backs who played in at least 25% of their team's snaps.

The Bengals reportedly don't plan on cutting him, but that could change if he doesn't perform well in the preseason and hold off Hill for the primary backup spot behind Giovani Bernard.

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