NFL Veterans Who Could Find Themselves on the Roster Bubble in Training Camps
Most of the NFL offseason revolves around player acquisition. That's the fun part. But with NFL training camps around the corner the reality of cutting a roster down to 53 starts setting in.
At this point, most rosters are somewhere around 90 players. So from this point forward, there will be many more players losing jobs than gaining them.
Most of those players will be ones who are simply trying to catch on to a roster. But there are always notable names who wind up on the chopping block too. Whether it be for financial reasons or losing their job to another player, there are always notable veterans who are late additions to the free-agent pool or part of a trade.
Considering their recent production, injury history, salary cap ramifications and competition at their position, these players should be a little nervous heading into training camp season.
RB Chris Carson, Seattle Seahawks
Life comes at you fast when you're an NFL running back.
Chris Carson has become a perfect example of the position's volatility. He had back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons in 2018 and 2019, then his production dipped a bit in 2020 and he only played in 12 games due to injury.
Then 2021 came and with it a neck injury that cost him all but four games. Now it's fair to wonder whether he'll be on the Seahawks roster by the time the season starts.
First, the 27-year-old has to prove he's healthy enough to play. Head coach Pete Carroll recently gave an update on his condition, with Adam Jude of the Seattle Times reporting on Carroll's comments that the end of his career is "inevitable".
If Carson can heal in time to get cleared for the season he faces a lot of competition for touches. Rashaad Penny finished the season strong, the team drafted Kenneth Walker III and also has DeeJay Dallas, a fourth-round pick in 2020.
The NFL is a hard business. That's especially true for running backs. It feels like the Seahawks have already replaced Carson whether he can play or not. The team will save $4.6 million if they release the veteran back.
G/T Cody Ford, Buffalo Bills
Offensive line depth is always important, especially for a team with Super Bowl aspirations.
At some point, you have to start considering an offensive lineman as a liability, though. Cody Ford is in that territory with the Buffalo Bills.
He's been given opportunities to catch on as both a tackle and guard but hasn't done enough to continue to get those chances. According to Sports Info Solutions, Ford had the worst blown block percentage of anyone on the team with at least 250 snaps.
PFF agreed that his play wasn't up to par. He earned a paltry 46.4 grade from their analysts despite only giving up two sacks.
Whether it's been guard or tackle, the 25-year-old has been a turnstile and weak link.
The Bills have acknowledged this with their moves this season. They bolstered the interior of the offensive line with the additions of Rodger Saffold, David Quessenberry and Greg Mancz.
With just $4.875 million in cap space, the Bills could use the $1.5 million they would save by parting ways with Ford.
Edge Dee Ford, San Francisco 49ers
While some on this list would be stunning, it would actually be more surprising if Dee Ford wound up playing for the San Francisco 49ers again.
"I do not expect him to be on our team," head coach Kyle Shanahan told reporters when asked about the pass-rusher.
That's about as clear an indication as it gets in the football business. Ford's time in San Francisco appears to be over, it's just when that will officially happen and whether it's a trade, outright release or retirement that gets him.
Shanahan also noted that he has a "clean bill of health" right now and he would come in to take a physical with the team. If he passes that physical things could get interesting.
Ford was an integral part of the 2019 team that won the NFC Championship. His partnership with Nick Bosa was vital to this success with half of the team's sacks in the regular season coming when both were on the field. Their sack total was from 164 snaps compared to 801 snaps when both didn't play together.
However, he's only played in seven games over the last two seasons and has dealt with back and hamstring injuries as well as concussions.
Still, when he was on the field, he still had some juice. He had three sacks in the six games he played last season.
WR Josh Gordon, Kansas City Chiefs
When Josh Gordon signed with the Kansas City Chiefs it felt like a last chance for him to cash in on the potential that he's shown throughout his career.
Once upon a time, Gordon had 1,646 yards and nine touchdowns in his second season with the Cleveland Browns. But that was nearly 10 years ago. Gordon has been suspended by the league six times in his career for various violations of the league's substance abuse policy.
The 30-year-old receiver ended up playing in 12 games and making seven starts for the Chiefs. However, he only saw 14 targets, bringing in five catches for 32 yards and one touchdown.
The Chiefs lost Tyreek Hill, Byron Pringle and Demarcus Robinson so there are 260 vacated targets within the offense. However, the Chiefs were fairly aggressive in adding to the receiver room.
They signed JuJu Smith-Schuster, Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Justin Watson while adding Skyy Moore in the 2nd round of the draft.
Smith-Schuster, Valdes-Scantling and Mecole Hardman were all more productive than Gordon. Expectations will be high for Moore as a second-round pick.
That potentially leaves Gordon as the fifth-best receiver on the roster. Typically, a team will look to have receivers that low on the depth chart contribute on special teams. Gordon only has five special teams snaps in his entire career.
That might make him more expendable and the Chiefs would get out of his $895,000 cap hit entirely.
OG Isaac Seumalo, Philadelphia Eagles
Training camp isn't typically important for veterans but for someone like Isaac Seumalo it is going to be pivotal.
That's because the guard is getting paid starter money but is going to have to earn that role in camp. Seumalo has plenty of experience starting as a left guard but he's been moved to the right side to compete for the job.
Seumalo has been good when healthy but those moments have been rare lately. He missed all but three games of 2021 with a lisfranc injury and only played in nine games in 2020.
Pro Football Focus rated the Eagles offensive line as the league's best going into 2022. Their projected starting lineup has Seumalo but third-year player Jack Driscoll and rookie Cam Jurgens could still factor into the race.
If the 28-year-old were to lose the job to either of his younger counterparts, the Eagles would be paying a backup guard $7.6 million.
That's not good business and the Eagles could save $5.65 million as a post-June 1 cut.
WR Darius Slayton, New York Giants
A new regime often means less job security and Darius Slayton should be feeling the pressure with Joe Schoen taking over general manager duties with the New York Giants.
The former fifth-round pick was once a promising prospect after putting up 740 yards and eight touchdowns. Now he could be competing for a roster spot in training camp.
Slayton was the beneficiary of a dearth of receiving targets for New York last season. Sterling Shepard was only healthy for seven games, Kadarius Toney could never seem to take a full-time role as a rookie and Kenny Golladay was underwhelming in his first season with the Giants.
That paved the way for Slayton to see third-most targets on the team with 58. However, he was one of the most inefficient receivers in the league with catch rate of just 44.8 percent, drop rate of 10.3 percent and a miserable quarterback rating of 53.7 when targeted.
In short, he was more harmful to Daniel Jones than helpful.
This season Toney will have a fresh start with a new coaching staff, Sterling Shepard comes back healthy and they drafted Wan'Dale Robinson in the second round.
S Daniel Sorensen, New Orleans Saints
Daniel Sorensen has made 18 starts and 32 appearances at safety for the Kansas City Chiefs over the last two seasons.
So it wasn't altogether surprising when the Saints, another team with playoff aspirations, picked up the veteran in free agency. He has experience being a Super Bowl contender and can contribute on special teams in addition to his duties as a safety.
The Saints brass probably didn't account for Tyrann Mathieu still being available nearly two months after they signed Sorensen, though.
Mathieu signed a three-year pact with the Saints in early May. They also signed Marcus Maye from the New York Jets, giving them two high-profile safety signings and two starters on the back end.
It also leaves Sorensen in limbo. He could still wind up making the team as a special teams ace, but he's a liability in coverage. Last season, he gave up a passer rating of 132.9 which was even worse than the 100.7 he surrendered in 2020.
Maye is returning from a torn Achilles so it's possible Sorensen keeps his roster spot for the early part of the season if Maye is not on the active roster, but the 32-year-old will have to earn his keep in training camp.