Now that NFL teams have cut their rosters down to 53 players, a ton of guys are suddenly searching for new homes. Among the cuts were several big names that surprised many across the league.
Several guys predicted to be starters were sent packing by their teams this past weekend. Here is a list of the top five cuts we didn't see coming.
The New England Patriots took safety Brandon Meriweather with the 24th pick in the 2007 NFL Draft, and got a solid return from the Miami product.
While Meriweather's production wasn't overwhelming, he was certainly good enough. In four seasons he totaled 261 tackles, 12 interceptions and two sacks.
Despite those numbers, Meriweather was benched by the Patriots several times for not sticking to schemes and constantly disappointing the coaching staff. He certainly didn't do anything to help himself stay in New England.
Some have claimed he didn't deserve it, but Meriweather was selected to play back to back Pro Bowls in 2009 and 2010.
While Meriweather has been disappointing to the Patriots' coaching staff, we certainly didn't see him getting cut. The Chicago Bears snapped him up quickly and expect the four-year vet to contribute immediately.
A former second-round pick by the San Diego Chargers, Olshansky came to Dallas on a four-year, $18 million contract in 2009. Since then he had performed well in the Cowboys' 3-4 scheme, but he had struggled to fit in to new defensive coordinator Rob Ryan's 4-3 front.
According to Football Outsiders, Olshansky was fourth in the league among defensive ends in yards per rushing play allowed in 2010. That means a 3-4 team should definitely look to snag him as soon as possible.
While Olshansky was a man without a position in Ryan's scheme, I didn't see him getting cut. I figured after the success he has had with the Cowboys, they would give him a chance to settle in and find a spot.
No such luck for the big Ukrainian.
The Cincinnati Bengals were looking to keep their quarterbacks upright in 2011, and added Max Jean-Gilles to add some bulk to the interior of their offensive line. The former Georgia Bulldog lasted just one month and one day with the team—a stint so short there isn't even a file photo of him in a Bengals uniform.
Jean-Gilles started 26 games for the Philadelphia Eagles since being drafted in the fourth round of the 2006 NFL Draft. That's decent experience for an interior lineman, and when the Eagles didn't re-sign him this offseason, the Bengals grabbed him quickly.
Apparently Jean-Gilles just didn't fit in Cincinnati's plans and the Carolina Panthers snagged him as soon as he hit the open market.
Avery has been injured throughout his career and missed the entire 2010 season with a knee injury. Despite that, Avery looked excellent during the preseason, as he had six catches for 91 yards and a touchdown.
In what amounts to just two years of actual NFL play, Avery has 100 catches for 1,263 yards and eight touchdowns. That level of production out of a second or third option is excellent.
That wasn't enough for the St. Louis Rams, who dumped Avery in the last round of cuts. The former second-round pick out of Houston is currently a free agent, but should get a look from a team looking for a fast slot receiver.