With NFL teams being forced to cut rosters down to 53 players, there will obviously be those on the outside looking in who feel they deserved better.
Many of the veterans who were part of the recent string of cuts likely could have seen this move coming. Running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis was likely on his way out as soon as the Cincinnati Bengals drafted Jeremy Hill, while Daniel Thomas of the Miami Dolphins could have expected an exit when Knowshon Moreno was signed.
However, other moves caught most people by surprise. These players are now out of a job, although you can expect a lot of them to be picked up in a hurry.
Stephen Hill, WR, New York Jets
Coming into the 2012 NFL draft, Stephen Hill was considered a raw but talented receiver who could someday become one of the top players in the league at his position. Unfortunately, the second-round pick could never live up to his potential, totaling just 45 receptions in two seasons.
His agent, Alan Herman, was upset at the coaching staff after hearing Hill was released, telling Rich Cimini of ESPN.com:
I'm disappointed in Rex because I don't think he publicly supported Stephen like he should have. You never hear him call out his defensive guys. I don't see him criticizing Kyle Wilson or Quinton Coples. So, yeah, I'm disappointed. I think the Jets have to accept part of the blame. I think he deserved one more year. I just think the Jets should've stuck with him for another year.
If the Jets were really holding him back, getting released might end up being the best thing to happen to the young player.
Considering he is still just 23 years old, it seems likely another team will at least take a chance on someone who has plenty of upside.
Duke Ihenacho, S, Denver Broncos
The Broncos signed T.J. Ward this offseason to provide an upgrade in the secondary over Duke Ihenacho, but most believed he was at least worthy of making the roster. He was the starting strong safety for Denver last season and made 89 tackles with nine pass deflections.
However, Mike Klis of The Denver Post provides more info on the situation:
#Broncos waive SS Duke Ihenacho; rookie LB Shaq Barrett. Ihenacho a 17-game starter last yr. Beat out by T.J. Ward/Quinton Carter this year.— Mike Klis (@MikeKlis) August 30, 2014
Not only did he fail to keep his starting job, but he could not even stay at No. 2 on the depth chart. This makes him worthy of the cut, although it would not be surprising to see another team act quickly to add the hard-hitting player.
Nate Burleson, WR, Cleveland Browns
One would think a team with few options at wide receiver would find a way to keep one of the more experienced players on the roster. However, this was not the case, as the Cleveland Browns let go of Nate Burleson in the final round of cuts.
Bleacher Report's Michael Schottey disagreed with the move:
I can understand that Burleson may have struggled with health/explosiveness, but think he would’ve been invaluable for Browns in game.— Michael Schottey (@Schottey) August 30, 2014
Burleson has made a career of showing up when he’s been asked & overachieving his physical talent, there’s still something in the tank.— Michael Schottey (@Schottey) August 30, 2014
Burleson has struggled to stay healthy over the past few years, missing 17 games since the start of 2012. However, he is usually productive when he is on the field.
Despite what he has done in the past, the Browns will instead stick with Miles Austin and Andrew Hawkins at the position. This does not seem too hopeful for quarterback Brian Hoyer.
Adam Snyder, OG, San Francisco 49ers
With uncertainty surrounding starting guard Alex Boone, who remains in the midst of a holdout, it would seem likely the 49ers would want to keep the other veterans on the line. This was not the case as Adam Snyder received his pink slip.
The 32-year-old player had spent time at virtually every position on the offensive line, starting 73 games for the 49ers in eight seasons. He also started 14 games during a brief one-year stint with the Arizona Cardinals before returning to San Francisco.
Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle believed his versatility was enough to help him earn the spot:
Surprised by Adam Snyder's release. I thought he was a lock because of his ability to play all five positions. #49ers— Eric Branch (@Eric_Branch) August 30, 2014
Instead, the 49ers went in a different direction and will try to get younger along the offensive line. They will also hope for a limited amount of injuries to cause problems during the regular season.
Champ Bailey, CB, New Orleans Saints
After ending his career with the Denver Broncos, Champ Bailey was looking to remain on the field with the New Orleans Saints. This apparently was not meant to be as he failed to earn the starting cornerback job and was subsequently released.
There is no denying Bailey has been one of the best cornerbacks in football over the past 15 years, and Pete Prisco of CBS Sports believes he is headed to the Hall of Fame:
Champ Bailey: Next stop, Canton— Pete Prisco (@PriscoCBS) August 30, 2014
On the other hand, there is no guarantee the 36-year-old player is ready to call it quits. Although he might not be the elite performer he once was, he could still be an above-average cornerback in this league.
Depending on what he wants to do, there should be a few teams willing to make a phone call to the veteran player in the next few days.
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