2011 NFL Preseason: 10 Most Surprising Roster Cuts

Caleb GarlingCorrespondent IAugust 18, 2011

2011 NFL Preseason: 10 Most Surprising Roster Cuts

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    The NFL is a fickle value assessment game. One season a guy may be off the charts and being lavished with a huge contract; and another he may have trouble finding employment anywhere. (See: Moss, Randy).

    A combination of money, injury, off-field antics and closed-door knowledge go into who stays and who goes each year.

    And every preseason a few big names get the axe. Some of them you say, "Yeah, about time" and others you say, "Really? Huh. We should sign that guy then." So far, here are 10 in that latter category.

    Training camp is only half over, so there will be even better ones to come.

Lee Evans

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    So technically, this wasn’t a cut—the Bills traded him to the Ravens for a fourth-round pick. In my book, that’s close enough. I don’t find the actual move surprising as the Bills want to turn over the reigns to a younger receiving corps and Evans is 30.

    What I find surprising is that they could only get a fourth-round pick for him. Even with shaky quarterbacking Evans still averaged 15.6 yards per catch—good for 17th in the NFL and ahead of guys like Miles Austin and Andre Johnson. The guy can still fly.

    And the Ravens needed a guy opposite Anquan Boldin. By needed, we’re talking about Baltimore requiring (yes, strong words here) a real downfield threat to spread that passing offense for Ray Rice. This team needs to win their division this year and get out of the Steel Shadow.

    They had Baltimore by the shorts, and the best the Bills could do was a fourth round pick?

Nate Clements

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    This was a cap move, pure and simple. Clements’ release opened up $15.7 million in cap space.

    Despite his high price tag and the fact he did under-deliver for the 49ers, cutting Clements does get rid of San Francisco’s third-leading tackler (82) and leading pass picker (three).

    They did sign Carlos Rodgers to replace Clements after losing out on the Asomugha Sweepstakes, and he will be a decent replacement.

Lofa Tatupa

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    Tatupa has steadily trended downward since his first few seasons, but he would have still been a valuable asset on a crappy defense as the Seahawks finished near the bottom of the barrel in just about every statistical category.

    Some Seattle fans may be screaming, “Yeah, because Tatupa is slower than Rex Ryan!”—a fair point, but who is replacing him?

Kelvin Hayden

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    Hayden was slated to make $9 million this season, so the cut isn’t necessarily surprising from that perspective. Many feel that his under-production and injury issues were not worth the hassle.

    The surprising part is that the Colts don’t seem to have any plan to replace him. This is a team that is always thinking Super Bowl.

    If you’re going to cut a starting corner, you should have a plan.

Renaldo Hill

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    This seemed like a release to make next year. Hill was only scheduled to make $2.4 million in 2010.

    Why not hang on to your team's leading pick-off artist and fourth leading tackler, and have him mentor second-round pick Rahim Moore for a season?

    Even if Moore shows he’s the better player and deserves game time, it doesn’t hurt to have a cheap veteran safety as a backup in case Moore’s rookie body gets hurt. 

Bryant McKinnie

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    McKinnie thought the lockout offseason would be best spent bathing in marshmallows, rather than staying in decent shape. He’s like that idiot kid in grade school that thinks homework won’t be due on Tuesday because Monday was a snow day.

    Anyway, I get why the Vikings cut him, I just thought it was a little fast to cut a guy that’s been a pillar of the offensive line for almost a decade. Giant humans like McKinnie can take weight off pretty fast; why not give him a couple weeks?

    All that said, signing Charlie Johnson was a great replacement, so in the end this will probably look like quick (and smart) thinking.

Channing Crowder

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    Crowder took the starting middle linebacker job his rookie season and never looked back.

    Ostensibly, his mouth and injury-riddled 2010 were to blame, but the cut seemed a little fast. He was a leader on a very underrated defense last year.

    Also, Crowder is not wrong about Chad Henne—he’s not a good quarterback; but of course he should keep that to himself.

    The Dolphins signed Kevin Burnett to take Crowder’s place.

Michael Jenkins

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    The Falcons needed to clear room for Julio Jones, but why not keep the position both competitive and insured?

    Jones has looked like an unreal talent, but the draft is never a sure thing. If he struggles or needs help out of the gate, the Falcons would be better served to have an experienced receiver coming off the bench—one that knows the offense and how to play on the Falcons’ turf.

    This team is Super Bowl-or-bust; never hurts to keep a backup plan around.

Derek Anderson

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    Yes, I know how bad he sucked last year. And I know who Kevin Kolb is. But two things:

    1) Anderson was only going to make $4.25 million this year and 2) that’s not that bad considering you’re putting all your eggs in the Kevin Kolb Experiment.

    Perhaps the Cardinals really wanted to show Kolb that he was their man by getting rid of any competition, but why are they so sure that Kolb is the real deal? In seven starts over a four-year career he has 11 touchdowns and 14 interceptions.

    The surprise isn’t as much an endorsement of Anderson as much as it’s a “Really, you’re that sure Kolb’s the future?” for the Cardinals.

    Spending $4.25 million on a guy that knows the offense already isn’t that bad if Kolb plays more like his start against the Cowboys last year (50 percent passing, 162 yards, three picks).

Nick Barnett

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    I know the guy was hurt last year, but Barnett has been one of the top linebackers in the NFL for the last five years—and a core piece of a stout Packers defense.

    Why simply cut him? Sure, it saved $4 million in cap space but I’m not so sure you don’t keep him for another season to shore up that Super Bowl defense. This is a team that wanted to get younger, but you set a bad precedent when you treat and cut veteran talent so abruptly like that.

    The Bills should be pretty psyched.