2022 NFL Roster Bubble: Biggest Names Who Could Be Cut

Alex BallentineAugust 8, 2022

2022 NFL Roster Bubble: Biggest Names Who Could Be Cut

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    AP Photo/Lynne Sladky

    The dawn of preseason might be fun for football fans, but it also means the grim reality of NFL roster cuts are upon us.

    RIght now, each team is allowed to carry 90 players on its roster. This is the time for young players to fight for a dream and some veterans to audition for a roster spot for one more season.

    The harsh reality is that over the next few weeks, each team will have to cut down its roster to 53 players. That means some tough decisions lie ahead for personnel decision-makers.

    Oftentimes, the final few spots come down to who can contribute on special teams and who will cost less against the salary cap. It also means some well-known names will soon find themselves on the job market.

    Based on recent production, injury history, salary-cap ramifications and the general state of their team's roster, these players could find themselves looking for a new home by final roster cuts on August 30.

QB Jimmy Garoppolo, San Francisco 49ers

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    AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill, File

    The San Francisco 49ers would ideally prefer to find a trade partner for Jimmy Garoppolo. After all, he's a competent 30-year-old quarterback fresh off an appearance in the NFC Championship Game.

    But as we get closer to the August 30 cut deadline, they might wind up outright releasing him instead.

    Niners head coach Kyle Shanahan has already publicly backed Trey Lance as his starting quarterback this year. While the Niners are still on good terms with Jimmy G, he is currently working to get healthy for his next team.

    “There’s no secret here of what the situation is," Shanahan told reporters. "I think he fully understands the situation. We fully understand the situation. So, we make the best of it. Jimmy’s out there. He’s feeling better and better each day."

    The Niners still have time to find a trade partner. Albert Breer of Sports Illustrated suggested the Cleveland Browns could be a suitor as they await the results of the NFL's appeal of disciplinary officer Sue L. Robinson's decision to suspend Deshaun Watson for six games following an investigation and hearing on allegations of sexual assault and misconduct.

    The Niners have about 25.5 million reasons to release Garoppolo before the season, even if they get nothing in return. That's how much money they would save against the cap by releasing him, while they'd be left with only $1.4 million in dead cap charges.

RB Myles Gaskin, Miami Dolphins

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    AP Photo/Marta Lavandier

    Myles Gaskin was the Miami Dolphins' leading rusher last season. Now, he could be fighting for a roster spot.

    Gaskin led the Dolphins' anemic rushing attack with only 612 yards last season, and he earned most of those the hard way. The Dolphins offensive line came in last on Pro Football Focus' end-of-season rankings, and Gaskin averaged a meager 2.1 yards before contact.

    The Dolphins revamped their running back group this offseason, bringing in Chase Edmonds, Raheem Mostert and Sony Michel. After hiring former San Francisco 49ers run game/offensive coordinator Mike McDaniel as their new head coach, they now figure to lean more heavily on the run.

    That means Gaskin has to improve a new coaching staff while facing increased competition.

    Edmonds averaged 5.1 yards per carry as a featured back for the Arizona Cardinals last season. Mostert has experience with McDaniel from his days with the 49ers, and Michel rushed for 845 yards with the Los Angeles Rams last season.

    The Dolphins would save $2.5 million if they were to release Gaskin before the season. Only $21,695 of his cap hit this season is guaranteed, per Spotrac.

WR Josh Gordon, Kansas City Chiefs

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    AP Photo/Charlie Riedel

    One of the Kansas City Chiefs' top priorities in training camp is figuring out the pecking order of their new receiving corps. Tyreek Hill's departure paired with the loss of Demarcus Robinson and Byron Pringle vacates 260 targets from last season.

    Travis Kelce returns as Patrick Mahomes' top target, but the hierarchy of receivers is murky after that. There isn't a lack of competition, though.

    The Chiefs signed JuJu Smith-Schuster and Marquez Valdes-Scantling in free agency, drafted Skyy Moore and retained Mecole Hardman, who's heading into the final year of his contract. Those four are likely locks to make the roster.

    Last year, the Chiefs had only five receivers on their initial 53-man roster. That could leave veteran wideout Josh Gordon fighting with one of the younger options for the final spot.

    Head coach Andy Reid recently talked to reporters about Gordon's progress in camp. While he was complimentary of his work he also didn't gush about the receiver.

    “Josh has got a great attitude, and he’s working hard,” Reid said. “Yeah, there’s competition; I mean, they are all competing. One day he’s working with the one’s; the next day, with the twos, threes. Trying to get him as many reps a week (and) can still look at the other guys too. It’s a little bit of a juggling act, but he’s doing a nice job. Working very hard.”

    That doesn't sound like someone who's guaranteed a roster spot. The 31-year-old soon may be looking for another team to take a flier on him after he appeared in 12 games last season.

RB Ronald Jones II, Kansas City Chiefs

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    AP Photo/Charlie Riedel

    Training camp can be a zero-sum game. Anytime there's an unexpected training camp star, there's someone else who should be sweating their job security.

    That's a good thing to keep in mind whenever positive reviews of Kansas City Chiefs running back Isiah Pacheco come out.

    Albert Breer of Sports Illustrated noted the seventh-round pick is a name to watch, comparing him to Kareem Hunt. That could be bad news for free-agent addition Ronald Jones II.

    The Chiefs brought Jones in to compete with Clyde Edwards-Helaire. But Pete Sweeney of Arrowhead Pride observed that CEH is taking most of the first-team reps, followed by Jerick McKinnon, then Pacheco, Derrick Gore and Jones "mixing in from time to time."

    Jones is a talented runner, but he isn't very versatile. He caught only 10 passes in 16 games with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last season, and he doesn't play special teams.

    That doesn't bode well in a crowded running back room. Pacheco's ability to return kicks could help him lock up a roster spot, leaving Jones to battle it out with Gore for the fourth spot.

    Gore's 64 special teams snaps last season could give him a leg up in that competition.

WR Denzel Mims, New York Jets

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    AP Photo/Seth Wenig

    Denzel Mims made a name for himself during the 2020 predraft process. He was a classic size and speed prospect at wide receiver, boasting a 4.38-second 40-yard dash time and a 6'3", 207-pound frame.

    The New York Jets bought in on the hype and drafted him with the No. 59 overall pick. However, he has only 31 catches for 490 yards and zero touchdowns across 20 games over his first two seasons.

    Mims still views himself as a starter, though.

    “I see myself on top,” he said, per Zack Rosenblatt of The Athletic. “I feel like I’ve put in enough work to be there. That’s a coach’s decision. But I’m going to continue to work my tail off and do everything I can.”

    Mims' odds of climbing the depth chart are slim. The Jets made a big investment in Corey Davis last season, drafted Elijah Moore and Garrett Wilson over the last two years and re-signed Braxton Berrios to a two-year contract this offseason.

    With Mims clearly angling for a bigger role and the Jets receiver room already crowded, they might be better off parting ways.

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S Taylor Rapp, Los Angeles Rams

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    Scott Taetsch/Getty Images

    Taylor Rapp started all 17 regular-season games for the Los Angeles Rams last season, so it would be a surprise to see him get cut before the season starts. Then again, he missed the whole playoff run before the Super Bowl because of a concussion and the defense got along fine without him.

    Nick Scott stepped in as Rapp's replacement and had an interception, three passes defended and 14 tackles en route to the Rams' Super Bowl victory. Now, both Rapp and Scott are in contract years and are competing to be the starting safety across from Jordan Fuller.

    Rapp has been shaky in coverage. Last season, he allowed 9.7 yards per target and four touchdowns along with a 74.1 completion percentage.

    Rapp provides valu in the run game, but it's fair to wonder if that's enough to keep him around. The Rams have only $8.2 million in cap space right now, but they figure to be a popular destination for any free agents, including wideout Odell Beckham Jr.

    General manager Les Snead will need to ask himself if Rapp's run defense is worth the money they can save to potentially add another piece to the puzzle. They could create more than $2.5 million in additional cap room by cutting him.

WR Darius Slayton, New York Giants

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    Rich Schultz/Getty Images

    Darius Slayton once looked like he was going to be a steal for the New York Giants. The 2019 fifth-round pick had over 700 receiving yards in each of his first two seasons.

    While his overall numbers were good, Slayton never been an efficient receiver. He's never caught more than 57.1 percent of his targets, and he only averaged 8.8 yards per target in his rookie season.

    Everything has gone downhill since. Last season, he caught only 44.8 percent of his targets and averaged a career-low 5.8 yards per target.

    The Giants now have a new head coach (Brian Daboll) and a new general manager (Joe Schoen). Neither of them have ties to Slayton.

    The Giants haven't prioritized finding reps for Slayton in camp. Dan Duggan of The Athletic noted that he mostly ran with the third-team offense on Friday and said "it continues to look like it will be an uphill climb for the fourth-year pro to make the roster."

    That's a sharp decline for a receiver who was the team's leading receiver in 2020.

    All statistics via Pro Football Reference unless otherwise noted.

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