NFL Roster Cuts: 20 Biggest Surprises
NFL Roster Cuts: 20 Biggest Surprises
Entering the 2013 NFL offseason, there were plenty of teams that made moves to better themselves at positions of weakness or concern. In addressing those needs, many franchises looked as though they would be in a much better position going into the regular season this fall.
Little did some of these additions know, they would wind up being let go come the 53-man roster deadline which came Saturday. Tons of veteran players were let go including several with an opportunity to play elsewhere immediately.
Saturday saw a few quarterbacks get the boot who may find themselves a backup job somewhere else in the league. Greg McElroy, David Carr, Jimmy Clausen and John Skelton were a few of those names among others to get their name called into free agency. A couple more of importance find themselves on this list of fellow surprises.
It is one of the toughest things to figure out as a fan, sometimes, wondering why your team would let go of either a fan favorite or a potential starter prior to the start of the season. Sometimes it has to do with money, yet other times it is merely the fact that competition ran deep throughout camp and the team chose to keep the younger and more promising player.
Several undrafted free agents made rosters Saturday, leaving some veterans out to dry while searching for their next job. Guys like Michael Ford and Jeff Tuel got a chance to stay on their respective rosters, making their dream become a reality after not hearing their names called last spring.
Here at Rant Sports, we have tons of continued coverage of the eventful day that was the roster cut deadline on Saturday. After checking out the following 20 biggest surprises, make sure to stay tuned for the latest team-by-team analysis and breakdowns.
Update: The first five players were mid-season cuts.
20. Josh Freeman
When Josh Freeman was finally released, I don't think anyone was surprised. What was so shocking about it, though, was the events leading up to it. How it got to that point between Freeman and Greg Schiano left many dumbfounded as to how a coach can be such an idiot.
19. Brian Banks
In the most emotional story of the offseason, 28-year old rookie Brian Banks' journey with the Atlanta Falcons finally came to an end. It was somewhat of a surprise, simply because his story was a big reason why so many wanted him to make the roster. Banks lost out on 10 years of his football career after he was falsely accused of rape, thus putting him in prison for five years and another near-five years on probation. Banks may be a guy to find his way onto a practice squad or even another roster here quickly, so don't go and think his incredible story comes to an end just yet.
18. Ed Reed
What was a bit surprising about this move came from the fact that Ed Reed was so open and blunt about his questioning the coaching prior to his release. It became obvious that Reed wanted no part of the Houston Texans anymore, thus leading to his being cut.
17. Vince Young
Well, the Packers continue their search for a backup quarterback. Releasing Vince Young after he performed well in the preseason was definitely a surprise to many, especially because if there were to be an injury to starter Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay would have no one to step in at the moment. When they finally sign a backup in the coming days, he will still have to learn the playbook. Of course, Rodgers' durability has never been an issue. But, the fact that the season starts next week and there is still no backup in Green Bay has to be somewhat of a concern to Packer fans.
16. Jay Ratliff
After surgeries and somewhat of a fallout with the team, the Dallas Cowboys decided just to cut their ties with Jay Ratliff. It was odd that a recent Pro Bowl defensive tackle couldn't have been shopped at least for a late round pick, but that Dallas wanted to get rid of him as soon as possible, thus going with a quick release.
15. Jonathan Dwyer
The biggest surprise of the day goes to the Pittsburgh Steelers, who released running back Jonathan Dwyer after he worked with the first team for the majority of the preseason. Rookie Le'Veon Bell went down with an injury, thus giving Dwyer the reps. Either Bell is close to full strength or the Steelers have that much faith in Isaac Redman and the recently acquired Felix Jones. Dwyer will undoubtedly be picked up as he has been a relatively consistent guy when in the lineup for the Steelers, even finding fantasy football relevance at times. Will this move come back to bit Pittsburgh? Only time will tell.
14. Daniel Fells and Jake Ballard
The New England Patriots released two tight ends on Saturday, both of whom could have contributed significantly throughout the season if given the opportunity. Jake Ballard, who has dealt with injury problems as of late, and Daniel Fells, a 29-year old veteran, have been cut by the Patriots. This gives the implication that starter Rob Gronkowski must not be too far from returning. To fans, this seems to be a great surprise as they see two tight ends go. To release both Ballard and Fells has to mean 'The Gronk' is near his return and New England thinks they can survive the remaining days until he is back in uniform.
13. Zach Minter
The Chicago Bears liked Zach Minter in camp and he worked hard in the preseason. It was a bit shocking that they would even think about cutting a defensive lineman with how depleted that group has been throughout the season. In a few games, they only had a rotation of up to five or six healthy guys on the line due to his release.
12. Tony Scheffler
For a guy that had been a security blanket for years to be cut after struggling with a few drops, it was surprising to say the least. Although Christian Fauria had emerged, it still would have been wise to keep Tony Scheffler, from the way I see it.
11. Brady Quinn
The Seattle Seahawks cut ties with quarterback Brady Quinn, thus giving the backup job to Tarvaris Jackson. Quinn played very well throughout the preseason, throwing for 271 yards and two touchdowns with zero interceptions. The surprise here is that the Seahawks are rolling with Jackson once again as he now backs up Russell Wilson. Jackson has been cut a few times around the league and still hasn't solidified himself as a dependable quarterback even as a backup. Quinn should see some interest around the league as there are teams with a need for a backup job.
10. Austin Collie
After dealing with a multitude of concussion issues, wide receiver Austin Collie attempted his comeback with the San Francisco 49ers. Things seemed promising for Collie especially because of the lack of depth at wideout in San Francisco, but ultimately the 49ers must have been incredibly weary in regards to his health, still. Staying with guys like Marlon Moore and Jon Baldwin was a risk they were willing to take because it came down to wanting the healthiest players on the team. Even though Collie could have proved to be a solid addition, he was cut loose in favor of the sure thing at the time in Moore and Baldwin.
9. J'Marcus Webb
The Chicago Bears completely revamped their offensive line this offseason, and with the addition of Pro Bowl left tackle Jermon Bushrod, J'Marcus Webb was moved to the right side. Midway through camp, rookie Jordan Mills found himself replacing Webb, thus bumping him down to the second team. Although Webb has been inconsistent throughout his tenure with Chicago, he knew the offense and would have provided depth at the backup tackle spots. The Bears were more content staying with Jonathan Scott as the primary backup and decided to get rid of the headache that was Webb. Although fans were excited to see Webb go, he would have been a serviceable backup. He should see some interest around the league as he has incredible size; just lacking the maturity and mental toughness to become a legitimate starting tackle.
8. Antoine Winfield
The Seattle Seahawks turned some heads earlier in the offseason when they signed former Pro Bowl cornerback Antoine Winfield. He was sure to add even more threat to the Seattle secondary as possibly a nickel or a fill-in during dime and quarter packages. Instead, the Seahawks were going to cut him loose and rather than testing the free agent waters again, Winfield decided to call it a career. He did not want to go through the free agency process again, and apparently was content in leaving the game altogether.
7. Tony Moeaki
The surprise here is that Tony Moeaki simply could not get himself healthy once again. It is more of a sore disappointment for Moeaki's camp, but nonetheless somewhat a surreal cut as the former third-round pick has been let go. As a rookie in 2010, Moeaki caught 47 passes for the Kansas City Chiefs, making his future look bright. From there, the injuries started piling on. A knee scope, torn ACL and most recently a fractured shoulder have highlighted his last three seasons. Moeaki had recently tweeted that he was starting to feel back to form and was excited for the season, but the Chiefs cut him loose as he was never really a part of new head coach Andy Reid's plan.
6. Tim Tebow
Before you get upset that Tim Tebow made the list, allow me to explain. The New England Patriots signed Tebow because they thought he would help them win games in some way, shape or form. Tebow is a winner. You've heard that phrase before. The surprise is not necessarily that he was cut, but that he would not budge an inch when it came to the possibility of switching positions in order to help a coach like Bill Belichick win games. His 'dream' of being a starting quarterback in this league will likely never come true, and unless he shows a desire to swap positions, his short-lived career may be over.
5. Fernando Velasco
The Tennessee Titans improved their offensive line tremendously throughout the offseason. The Titans signed Rob Turner, Chris Spencer and Andy Levitre while drafting Chance Warmack and Brian Schwenke. Five new guys in camp will definitely make it tougher for anybody on the line to make the team. Competition is a great thing, of course. But, Fernando Velasco was a guy who started all 16 games in 2012 and played well at both guard and center. In one of the most surprising moves of the day, Velasco was let go. He will absolutely get immediate attention and should have a job elsewhere in the near future.
4. Alex Green
As much as I follow the NFC North, specifically, it was definitely a surprise when I saw Alex Green cut by the Green Bay Packers. There was plenty of speculation that James Starks would have been the odd man out, but that did not end up being the case. Green played well most of the time last year both running the ball and catching out of the back field. I am sure there are tons of Packer fans questioning the move. Green should find a job somewhere else very quickly.
3. Robert Meachem
The biggest surprise revolving around the release of wideout Robert Meachem is the fact that the San Diego Chargers guaranteed him a $5 million salary this season. Why not keep him and at least try to get some of that money's worth? Especially with starter Denario Alexander out, Meachem was a guy who could have stepped up in place of him. Apparently the Chargers still haven't seen any reason to keep him around, but I am sure he will see some attention from other squads soon.
2. Drayton Florence
The Carolina Panthers chose to release cornerback Drayton Florence Saturday instead of doing what many thought they would do after originally signing the veteran: start him. Florence, 32, has 18 career interceptions and was thought to be the perfect guy to start opposite of Captain Munnerlyn. With the release of Florence, the Panthers now turn to either second year pro Josh Norman or youngster Josh Thomas. Florence has of course lost a step in a way, but still offers plenty of value to a defense in this league. I would be shocked if he goes un-signed in the coming days.
1. Thaddeus Lewis and Matt Leinart
In one of the more curious stories around the league Saturday, the Buffalo Bills chose to release quarterbacks Thad Lewis and Matt Leinart in successive days, after just recently acquiring both of them. This leaves the Bills with two quarterbacks on the roster due to Kevin Kolb being placed on IR -- and they are both rookies. E.J. Manuel is still recovering from a minor knee procedure and Jeff Tuel has been named the starter for week one. 2013 will be a very different year for Buffalo as their offense will be led by two first-year starters. Though this has gotten more interesting by the day, the Bills' quarterback situation seems to be just fine to head coach Doug Marrone. We'll see if they regret only keeping two passers come the regular season.