The first set of roster cuts usually features few recognizable names, as teams are just getting down to 75 players. However, there are a few exceptions this time around.
Not only are there high-profile veterans all of a sudden on the open market, but many of these players still have the ability to contribute at a high level. With the NFL being such a competitive league, you can be almost certain many of these guys will find a new home before long.
These are the new free agents most likely to be signed by a team in the next few weeks.
Jay Feely, Kicker
After a short-lived battle, the Arizona Cardinals decided rookie Chandler Catanzaro would be the team's starter instead of Jay Feely, and the organization released the veteran kicker.
The 38-year-old kicker knew this was possible, which is why he described his competition this summer as being an audition for every team in the league, via Paola Boivin of AZ Central Sports:
You always have competition, whether you have someone here or not. You're always looking around the whole NFL. You're not just competing against the guys in this locker room, and I'm not just competing for this job. That's just the reality of kicking in the NFL.
While Feely is certainly getting up there in age at 38 years old, last season's field-goal percentage of 83.3 was actually above his career average. If he can keep up this mark, he could end up being quite valuable for a new team.
Chris Burke of Sports Illustrated immediately thought of him as an option for the Philadelphia Eagles:
Eagles? RT @AdamSchefter: Cardinals are releasing veteran K Jay Feely, per source.— Chris Burke (@ChrisBurke_SI) August 25, 2014
Alex Henery has struggled lately, and the team has been looking for a replacement. Meanwhile, Omar Kelly of the Sun-Sentinel thinks the Miami Dolphins could be an option:
The Cardinals have cut former Dolphins kicker Jay Feely. Someone get the man on speed dial.— Omar Kelly (@OmarKelly) August 25, 2014
After 13 years in the league, a team can trust him to come through in big situations, no matter how much pressure there is in that moment. This could help make him a wanted man in the coming days.
Tommy Kelly, Defensive Tackle
After missing most of last season due to injury, the New England Patriots are apparently moving on from Tommy Kelly. On the other hand, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com notes he could still return to his former team:
With #Patriots cutting Tommy Kelly & Will Smith, don't be shocked if 1/both is back after W1. Salaries won't be gtd. Gerard Warren treatment— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) August 24, 2014
Still, he is already getting a look from the Cardinals, as noted by Kent Somers of AZ Central Sports:
#azcardinals bringing in DT Tommy Kelly tonight/tomorrow. Taking a look. cut by Pats.— Kent Somers (@kentsomers) August 25, 2014
When he is healthy, Kelly has the ability to be one of the top defensive tackles in the NFL. In nine years with the Oakland Raiders, he totaled 34.5 sacks while being extremely effective against the run.
It is no secret the Patriots defense struggled last season when Vince Wilfork was injured, but Kelly's injury was nearly as devastating.
On the other hand, head coach Bill Belichick might not have liked the veteran's attitude this preseason, as described by Mark Daniels of the Providence Journal:
Tommy Kelly just strolled up to practice in full pads - an hour and 19 minutes after everything started— Mark Daniels (@MarkDanielsPJ) August 18, 2014
The talent is there to make a big contribution to some team this season, especially one that needs help against the run.
Jacoby Ford, Wide Receiver/Returner
After struggling to build off a promising rookie season with the Oakland Raiders, Jacoby Ford attempted to get a fresh start with the New York Jets. Unfortunately, things did not work out because he was among the first players released.
Rex Ryan provided his thoughts on the move to Rich Cimini of ESPN.com:
Rex Ryan on Jacoby Ford's release: Had plenty of chances, had "better options" than Ford. #nyj— Rich Cimini (@RichCimini) August 24, 2014
Ford totaled 625 yards from scrimmage in 2010 while also excelling as a returner with three touchdowns on kickoffs. However, he has been less productive in the past three years, managing just 444 all-purpose yards last season.
Despite this, there are still those who believe Ford has the ability to turn his elite speed into production in the NFL. Brad Briggs of the Chicago Tribune speculates he could be a quality addition for the Chicago Bears to possibly replace the departed Devin Hester:
Brett Jensen of Fox Sports also considers the Carolina Panthers a legitimate option:
Jets cut Clemson product Jacoby Ford. He could be somebody Panthers might consider looking at for special teams return. World class speed.— Brett Jensen (@Brett_Jensen) August 24, 2014
Considering the Jets are in need of receiving targets, it is not a good sign Ford could not stick with this team. However, he remains a low-risk, high-reward option for plenty of teams.
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