NFL Free Agents 2014: Predictions for Top Players After Roster Cuts

Adam WellsFeatured ColumnistAugust 30, 2014

Seattle Seahawks quarterback Terrelle Pryor (2) runs against Oakland Raiders linebacker Miles Burris during the second quarter of an NFL preseason football game in Oakland, Calif., Thursday, Aug. 28, 2014. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press

Even though excitement for the 2014 NFL season is reaching a fever pitch with the regular season starting on September 4, it is also an excruciating time for many players who have been trying to make a 53-man roster this preseason. 

Saturday at 4 p.m. ET is the deadline for all 32 teams to have their final rosters set, meaning that a lot of players are in position to be cut and left looking for work with just days to go before games start. 

While a lot of the cuts have been expected for some time, it's still surprising to see some of the names on the market because they aren't that far removed from being valuable contributors. With so much information coming out, we've got predictions for the top players who are trying to find somewhere they can stick. 

Notable NFL Cuts
PlayerPositionCut By
Nate BurlesonWRCleveland Browns
Mikel LeshoureRBDetroit Lions
Stephen HillWRNew York Jets
Alex HeneryKPhiladelphia Eagles
Jerel WorthyDTNew England Patriots
Kenjon BarnerRBPhiladelphia Eagles
Terrelle PryorQBSeattle Seahawks
Connor BarthKTampa Bay Buccaneers
Mike BrewsterCJacksonville Jaguars
Landon CohenDTBuffalo Bills


Predictions For Cut Players

Terrelle Pryor, QB

Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press

Terrelle Pryor, who started nine games last season for the Oakland Raiders before being traded to the Seattle Seahawks in April, seemed like a safe bet to be the Seahawks' backup quarterback with Tarvaris Jackson and B.J. Daniels as his main competition. 

Instead, according to Ian Rapoport of, the Seahawks decided to cut Pryor before Saturday's deadline:

While Pryor is never going to be a traditional dropback passer in the NFL, his skill set is good enough to keep him around for a long time with more teams looking for a dynamic, change-of-pace guy at quarterback. 

One situation that's just screaming for Pryor is St. Louis, which lost its starter Sam Bradford to a torn ACL and is going with journeyman veteran Shaun Hill to start the year. Nick Wagoner of reports the Rams are indeed going to "look" at Pryor for their roster:

That's not exactly a sign that Jeff Fisher is going to beg Pryor, but it does make a lot of sense. The Rams can incorporate packages that suit the 25-year-old's skills, which are basically as a Wildcat option, taking a page from NFC West rivals Seattle and San Francisco. 

Another reason for the Rams to look at Pryor is to get inside information on Seattle's playbook. Pryor had four months to study Pete Carroll's offense and was in practice with the team all summer, so he can give the coaching staff notes on different formations and what plays are coming. 

Sure, it's not exactly the best use of a roster spot to have someone just providing notes, but the Rams have so little margin for error in that division that if they want to make the postseason, every advantage helps. 

Prediction: Pryor signs with Rams


Nate Burleson, WR

Tony Dejak/Associated Press

Everything you need to know about Nate Burleson's brief tenure with the Cleveland Browns is the team didn't have enough confidence in his ability to contribute in a meaningful way despite losing Josh Gordon for the season to a suspension

The 33-year-old Burleson hasn't been healthy this preseason, playing in just one game and dealing with a hamstring issue that had him on the chopping block as recently as August 26, according to Mary Kay Cabot of The Plain Dealer.

Cabot would then break the news about Burleson's release on Friday:

Jason La Canfora of speculated that the Miami Dolphins could have interest in Burleson:

The Dolphins could use another slot receiver with Mike Wallace and Brian Hartline on the outside, but Burleson has only been able to play in 15 games the last two years, so how much does he really bring to the table?

At his age and lacking durability, Burleson will struggle to find work. Another possible scenario, thrown out by Gregg Rosenthal of, is a media career. 

Those are two extreme scenarios for Burleson, but if we are putting money on it, the latter seems more likely because of where he's at physically. 

Prediction: Burleson retires


Stephen Hill, WR

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - OCTOBER 13: Wide Receiver Stephen Hill #84 of the New York Jets strecthes for the ball against the Pittsburgh Steelers on October 13, 2013 at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

Unlike Burleson, Stephen Hill has age on his side. He's just 23 years old and was a second-round pick in 2012, but his inability to translate raw skills into anything substantial on the field made him a hot-button issue. 

The New York Jets, who signed Eric Decker this offseason, released Hill, according to Bob Glauber of Newsday:

While Hill still has a lot left to prove before anyone thinks he's a starting wide receiver in the NFL, Judy Battista of speculated that another team in need of help on the outside could come calling:

The Browns make sense for a player like Hill. He's not going to cost a lot of money, doesn't have to be guaranteed a roster spot and fills a gaping hole for the team. Even if it's just a look in practice one day, head coach Mike Pettine should take advantage of it. 

Hill's got big-play capability with his combination of size (6'4") and speed. If he can figure out how to run a route and avoid the dropsies, the Browns will get a great bargain for the 2014 season. 

Prediction: Hill signs with Browns


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