1 Player Each NFL Team Should Cut Before the 2022 Season

Ian Wharton@@NFLFilmStudyFeatured Columnist IVAugust 17, 2022

1 Player Each NFL Team Should Cut Before the 2022 Season

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    The NFL's training camp and preseason represent exciting times before we reach the regular season. It's been six months since we had fresh football to watch, so even exhibition games give euphoria.

    The downside is the inevitable roster cuts from almost 100 players down to the final 53. Every team has to make difficult decisions about which players to keep. We see fan favorites on the move every year right after the final preseason game.

    After studying every NFL team's roster and salary situation, we've identified the one player each team should cut before the regular season kicks off Sept. 8. Some of these players need a new beginning elsewhere. Others have started to concede playing time to a peer and will have a hard time reclaiming their role.

    Let's dive in on some of the difficult decisions looming for each franchise.

Arizona Cardinals: WR Andy Isabella

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    The possibility of the Arizona Cardinals cutting wide receiver Andy Isabella should come as no surprise.

    Last October, NFL Network's Ian Rapoport reported Isabella was a trade candidate as the November deadline neared. Mike Garafolo tweeted in April that Isabella had been offered to a few teams before the draft.

    Yet the 2019 second-round pick remains a member of the Cardinals as he enters the final year of his rookie contract.

    Last season, he played in eight games and caught only one pass. He's never found a role in head coach Kliff Kingsbury's offense, and his spot on the roster is tenuous with Marquise Brown, A.J. Green, Rondale Moore, Antoine Wesley and DeAndre Hopkins (once he returns from a six-game suspension) ahead of him on the depth chart.

    The other factor in Isabella being the biggest name Arizona can cut is its top-heavy roster. The only other position with depth to spare is edge-rusher, but there's little cap relief from releasing anyone from that group.

    Releasing Isabella would save just $1.12 million in 2022 with a $347,000 dead-cap hit.

Atlanta Falcons: RB Damien Williams

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    One of the difficult aspects of having free agency before the draft is that a veteran can see their role diminished if the team adds a talented rookie. That might be the case in Atlanta. Though the Falcons are rebuilding, they added a few veterans to avoid being a disaster in 2022.

    One of those signings was Damien Williams. The speedy receiving back is a nice complementary piece for any offense. But since Williams is already behind a pass-catching back in Cordarrelle Patterson, the Falcons' decision to draft Tyler Allgeier in the fifth round could displace him altogether.

    With Atlanta's focus on the future, giving playing time to the 30-year-old Williams makes little sense. Cutting him would save them $1.1 million and open more snaps for 2021 fifth-round pick Avery Williams or any back they wish to claim off waivers in the coming weeks.

    Giving Allgeier more opportunities to develop should be a bigger priority over saving face with a player signed a few months ago to a cheap contract.

Baltimore Ravens: RB Justice Hill

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    The Baltimore Ravens are the rare NFL offense built around the running game. Last year quickly spun out of control as the team lost three running backs to season-ending injuries by the opening weekend. The Ravens added veteran Mike Davis and sixth-rounder Tyler Badie as J.K. Dobbins (torn ACL), Gus Edwards (torn ACL) and Justice Hill (torn Achilles) recovered from major injuries.

    Of the group, Hill is the most obvious man out. He suffered the most significant injury of the trio last year. He had just 285 yards on 70 carries in two seasons after being a fourth-round pick in 2019.

    Badie also fills the same archetype as a scatback who wins with short-area explosiveness. Landing a roster spot as the fourth or fifth back is difficult when another player is a healthier, more recent investment. Releasing Hill would also save Baltimore $895,000 in 2022.

Buffalo Bills: OL Cody Ford

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    A promising start to Cody Ford's career fell apart relatively quickly after he never developed as a starter along the Buffalo Bills offensive line.

    As a rookie, he started 15 contests between right tackle and guard. A torn meniscus limited his action the following year. In 2021, he was essentially benched in favor of rookie right tackle Spencer Brown. Granted, Ford played guard at the time, but veteran right tackle Daryl Williams moved inside to accommodate Brown's inclusion.

    Now Ford could be the odd man out.

    Dion Dawkins, Rodger Saffold, Mitch Morse, Ryan Bates and Brown are the team's projected starters (from left to right). Ike Boettger remains on the roster after starting 17 games over the last two seasons, though he's still recovering from a torn Achilles tendon.

    Buffalo signed Greg Van Roten, David Quessenberry and Greg Mancz. Tommy Doyle and Luke Tenuta, meanwhile, are recent draft picks.

Carolina Panthers: QB PJ Walker

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    The strangest decision of the preseason's first week was the one made by the Carolina Panthers. After trading up to the 94th pick to take Matt Corral, the Panthers played veteran PJ Walker as the third quarterback in their preseason opener against Washington. He responded with an ugly 10-of-19 performance for 136 yards and two sacks taken.

    With Baker Mayfield and Sam Darnold clearly the top two on the depth chart, barring a Darnold trade, the Panthers should stop investing time into the 27-year-old Walker. They know what he is, whereas Corral needs snaps to improve.

    Head coach Matt Rhule has handled the position as poorly as possible since being hired in 2020, and this is a continuation of his head-scratching decisions.

    Corral struggled, too, completing just one of nine attempts for 11 yards. But with Walker unable to establish himself as even a reliable backup, it's more worthwhile to let Corral struggle before the season. We may not see him play more until next preseason, and by then Walker will likely have a new home.

Chicago Bears: WR N'Keal Harry

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    Even though the Chicago Bears traded for N'Keal Harry just over one month ago, he could already be on the chopping block after he suffered a severe ankle injury. Expected to be out up to eight weeks, Harry had little time to set himself apart in the NFL's weakest receiving corps. He was acquired for a mere 2024 seventh-round pick from New England.

    It's impossible to blame Chicago for taking a flier on the first-round bust. Even before a slew of recent injuries reduced the Bears' available receivers to a list of unknowns, it wouldn't have been unreasonable to think Harry could've earned a role. Only third-year receiver Darnell Mooney has produced at a high enough level to guarantee his roster spot.

    The door opens for another receiver to emerge with Harry out of the rotation for the coming weeks. Whether it's rookie Velus Jones Jr., Byron Pringle or Tajae Sharpe, just one playmaker needs to complement Mooney enough for the Bears to feel more comfortable with their personnel.

    If Harry didn't impress enough before his injury, it would make sense for the team to cut bait.

Cincinnati Bengals: CB Tre Flowers

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    For as good as the Cincinnati Bengals appear to be entering this season after a strong showing in free agency, they're lacking depth in their secondary. Starting cornerback Eli Apple is a concern, considering his well-earned reputation for allowing big plays. It's especially worrisome behind him on the depth chart, as Tre Flowers has played sparingly since 2019 and Cam Taylor-Britt is a rookie.

    One injury could devastate a unit that carried this team to the brink of a championship last year. Flowers isn't to blame for that weakness, but opening his roster spot for a more proven veteran presence would be wise. The prospect of playing a developmental rookie or fringe roster player at corner in key moments against Patrick Mahomes or Josh Allen should terrify the Bengals.

    Flowers last played a significant role with Seattle in his first three-plus seasons. He was an effective run-stopper but rarely made plays on the ball. He totaled just three interceptions and 16 pass breakups prior to being released five games into 2021.

Cleveland Browns: WR Anthony Schwartz

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    Some people are better athletes in shorts than playmakers on the field. That's been the case with Anthony Schwartz since his days at Auburn, where he showed off blazing speed but lacked the nuance to consistently be a force at receiver.

    After he dropped two perfect passes from Deshaun Watson in the first preseason game, the Cleveland Browns should close the curtain on this experiment.

    The 2021 third-round pick had a quiet rookie year. He caught only 10 of 23 targets for 135 yards and one touchdown. His struggles running crisp routes and finishing at the catch point make it difficult to see where the upside is in developing Schwartz despite his age (21).

    The Browns might be able to stomach some of his growing pains if Watson is suspended for the 2022 season, since their postseason hopes may end with that decision.

    But if Watson can play or if Jimmy Garoppolo is acquired, the Browns can't afford to use a roster spot on an unplayable receiver. It makes more sense to stash Schwartz on the practice squad than to force him onto the field in the regular season.

Dallas Cowboys: Trysten Hill, DT

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    Cutting bait on a former top-100 draft pick is always painful. The missed opportunity to land a premier talent stings. However, there eventually comes a time when the bell tolls.

    The Dallas Cowboys are at that point with 2019 second-round pick Trysten Hill. The defensive tackle has been a non-factor in three seasons. He's played in only 18 games and notched 27 tackles and half a sack.

    The 24-year-old may be an interesting reclamation project for another team, but Dallas is too deep at tackle to continue developing him. The Cowboys need their depth at other positions over keeping a third nose tackle.

    Releasing Hill would save $1.16 million and incur just a $391,945 dead-cap hit.

Denver Broncos: Edge Malik Reed

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    A team can almost never have too many pass-rushers, but the numbers game sometimes comes into play.

    The Denver Broncos are deep at outside linebacker.

    Bradley Chubb should be back and operating at full tilt after he suffered an ankle injury last season that cost him 10 games. Denver signed Randy Gregory to a five-year, $70 million free-agent contract this offseason. The team then selected Nik Bonitto with its top pick (64th overall) in this year's draft.

    Jonathon Cooper started five games as a rookie last season. Baron Browning, meanwhile, will convert from off-ball linebacker to full-time edge defender.

    "It's crazy when it comes to Baron," Chubb told reporters. "The natural skills he has for the position, it's amazing. You'll see him go out there, and he just throws his shoulder down. To him, it feels like he's doing just that, but on film, it looks like the craziest thing ever."

    The Broncos are five-deep at the position before even mentioning Malik Reed, who led the team's outside linebacker group last season with five sacks. The team can save $2.43 million by cutting him, and there's not another obvious luxury on the roster.

Detroit Lions: OL Halapoulivaati Vaitai

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    The Detroit Lions spent significantly to build arguably the NFL's best offensive line. However, one of their big investments simply has not met expectations.

    Halapoulivaati Vaitai is the weakest link among the starting five, per Pro Football Focus, and his level of play isn't commensurate with his pay. Vaitai signed a five-year, $45 million contract prior to the 2020 season when the Lions were trying to build up their trenches.

    Today, Taylor Decker is rock-solid at left tackle. Left guard Jonah Jackson went to his first Pro Bowl last season. Frank Ragnow is one of the league's better centers. And Penei Sewell is one of the game's most promising young tackles heading into his second campaign.

    A release of Vaitai would save Detroit $7 million, and his spot can be capably filled by Evan Brown, who started 12 games last season in place of an injured Ragnow, Logan Stenberg or Tommy Kraemer.

Green Bay Packers: Amari Rodgers, WR

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    It's never a good sign when a top-100 pick at a position of need can't get onto the field as a rookie.

    5'9", 212-pound receiver Amari Rodgers was supposed to provide depth and the occasional impact play on manufactured touches for the Green Bay Packers. After all, his career at Clemson was filled with highlights of post-catch creativity. Instead of making a point of involving Rodgers, head coach Matt LaFleur kept him on the bench.

    Rodgers caught just four passes for 45 yards on eight targets and ran the ball once for 11 yards. His biggest impact came on punt and kick returns. but rostering a pure return man is difficult to justify for Super Bowl contenders.

    Green Bay lost both Davante Adams and Marquez Valdes-Scantling, but it added Christian Watson, Sammy Watkins and Romeo Doubs. The competition for Rodgers to see the field is formidable.

    His best chance to make the roster in 2022 is to become a fierce punt gunner and stand out as a return man.

Houston Texans: RB Rex Burkhead

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    Few teams make as many questionable decisions during a rebuild as the Houston Texans have since general manager Nick Caserio took over in 2021.

    Knowing this team would be bad, the Texans played three running backs 30 years old or older and fielded 36-year-old Danny Amendola and 34-year-old Andre Roberts at receiver. The Texans wasted the snaps on proverbial dinosaurs in NFL terms.

    Only running back Rex Burkhead is back from their dreadful 2021 group. Now 32, Burkhead is still a fairly effective third-down back who can catch passes and move the sticks. But he brings no value to a rebuilding offense that is looking to strike gold with Marlon Mack and Dameon Pierce.

    With Pierce breaking out in his preseason debut (five carries, 49 yards) while showing sharp cuts and good vision, it's becoming more likely he earns the starting job. It's fine if the Texans want to build a rotation of backs, but finding a younger contributor who can develop alongside Pierce makes more sense for their timeline.

    Burkhead is a better fit for a playoff contender that needs a depth piece.

Indianapolis Colts: Edge Ben Banogu

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    A second-round pick in 2019 thanks to his fantastic athleticism out of TCU, Ben Banogu has been a non-factor for the Indianapolis Colts. The 6'3", 252-pounder checked every athletic box to be worthy of development. His Relative Athletic Score was elite across the board, outside of his weight and bench press, per Pro Football Network's Kent Lee Platte.

    Unfortunately, the athleticism hasn't translated to any on-field success. In fact, Banogu has spent more time inactive than he has on the field despite the Colts needing help at the edge position for years. He's played only 439 defensive snaps and logged 2.5 sacks in three seasons.

    The trade for Yannick Ngakoue may have sealed Banogu's fate, barring a massive training camp breakout. Thanks to his explosiveness, Banogu may be worth a flier elsewhere if he's cut loose.

    The Colts, however, would likely rather save the $1.3 million of his $1.9 million salary than continue to keep him inactive in 2022.

Jacksonville Jaguars: WR Laviska Shenault Jr.

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    Another aggressive offseason by the Jacksonville Jaguars was brought on after a disastrous 2021 season filled with drama and disappointing play. The new Jaguars coaching staff has a bunch of new talent to utilize, but incumbent talent is buried under the shiny toys. One such player is Laviska Shenault Jr.

    He was supposed to be the closest thing to multipurpose receiver Deebo Samuel, but his usage has not mirrored that skill set. With several of San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan's former assistants spread across the league employing similar principles, there's not a better fit for Shenault than that scheme.

    Despite catching 121 passes for 1,219 yards and five scores in his first two seasons, Shenault appears to be the fourth or fifth option in the Jaguars offense. He's not considered a special teams ace, so his roster spot is in danger. But in the right situation, he could be more valuable.

    His powerful 6'1", 227-pound frame and gifts while carrying the ball simply have not been featured in Jacksonville. This release would benefit both parties.

Kansas City Chiefs: RB Ronald Jones

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    If you want to see a good example of how quickly things can change in the NFL, look at Ronald Jones' fall from the second string to possibly being cut from the Kansas City Chiefs.

    The team signed Jones to be Clyde Edwards-Helaire's insurance policy after the former lost his starting job in Tampa Bay after 2020. Jones fits Kansas City's heavy inside-zone approach, but the Chiefs have better complements to Edwards-Helaire.

    The team unearthed a draft steal in former Rutgers rusher Isiah Pacheco. He fell to the seventh round after poor production zapped his draft stock. However, his excellent athleticism and receiving ability at 5'10", 216 pounds make him a good fit as a role player in Andy Reid's offense.

    It's hard to justify keeping Jones with a better receiving back in Pacheco and a more physical runner in Jerick McKinnon in tow. McKinnon was especially impressive when he filled in for Edwards-Helaire last year, showing toughness as he fought through contact. He energized the offense while on the field.

    Jones is simply the odd man out. He should catch on elsewhere, but having a redundant skill set is a wasted roster spot for a Super Bowl contender.

Las Vegas Raiders: WR Demarcus Robinson

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    There seemed to be an open competition for a starting role within the Las Vegas Raiders' receiving core entering the preseason. Outside of Davante Adams and Hunter Renfrow, it was difficult to distinguish between Keelan Cole, Mack Hollins, Tyron Johnson and Demarcus Robinson. Two games in, we can clearly see Robinson is on the outside looking in.

    The former Chiefs receiver hasn't been bad. He's trailing Johnson's output by one yard, despite Johnson's impressive showing in the Hall of Fame Game. However, Robinson has played after his peers in both contests.

    That's telling of his standing.

    The 27-year-old has never held down a consistent role in the NFL. At 6'1", 202 pounds, he doesn't have the speed of Hollins and Johnson, nor the quickness nor route-running of Cole. He had only 145 catches for 1,679 yards and 14 touchdowns in six seasons with the Chiefs.

    Las Vegas should go with more explosive options as it looks to make a playoff push. Johnson in particular brings a new element to the unit. He could be a massive role player who benefits from single coverage all season.

Los Angeles Chargers: RB Joshua Kelley

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    The Los Angeles Chargers struck gold when they traded a 2022 second-round pick and a 2023 sixth-rounder for pass-rusher Khalil Mack. He was later joined by free-agent cornerback signee J.C. Jackson to round out the defense.

    Los Angeles continued to bolster its depth throughout free agency and the draft, even if there weren't other stars added. One of those players was fourth-round rookie Isaiah Spiller. The impressive Texas A&M back should immediately challenge for snaps behind Austin Ekeler.

    Adding depth was crucial. Not only has the 27-year-old Ekeler started 16 games just once, but the backup tandem of Joshua Kelley and Larry Rountree III also failed to produce at an efficient level last year. Kelley averaged just 3.1 yards per carry on 33 touches, and Rountree was even worse with 2.4 yards on 36 carries.

    Spiller will push one of them off the roster. Considering Kelley is a plodding back with little receiving value, he's the most obvious man out.

Los Angeles Rams: CB David Long Jr.

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    The high-wire act where the Los Angeles Rams balance high-priced veterans and young players on rookie deals puts a premium on quick development.

    Their model is hard on any player who isn't a star because the Rams are highly unlikely to pay them well on a second contract.

    Cornerback David Long Jr. appears to be facing a roster crunch this offseason. He was a third-round selection in 2019 and finally took on a larger role in 2021 after playing on special teams. He started five games, showing competence as a versatile, speedy slot option.

    Despite his experience, the Rams traded for Troy Hill and drafted two cornerbacks. The cornerback room features three new faces as well as Jalen Ramsey and 2021 fourth-round pick Robert Rochell.

    Long's push to make the team will be an uphill climb. Another squad should be interested in the 24-year-old former Michigan Wolverine.

Miami Dolphins: CB Noah Igbinoghene

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    It's one thing to be a draft bust who simply does not play well when given the opportunity. It's another issue when a first-round pick can't even get on the field. Miami Dolphins cornerback Noah Igbinoghene has just 19 tackles and two pass deflections in 365 defensive snaps over the last two seasons.

    Igbinoghene had been battling Trill Williams for the fourth cornerback role, with veteran Byron Jones on the PUP list because of an ankle injury. Reports have not been promising for Igbinoghene, as he's still lacking the discipline and anticipation needed to cover quality receivers. Williams appeared to be winning their competition before tearing his ACL.

    With veteran Mackensie Alexander taking Williams' place, Igbinoghene has to prove he belongs in the NFL as soon as possible. His 5'11", 197-pound frame makes him a better fit at corner than safety, but a position change might be necessary. Miami can't afford to play Igbinoghene if he can't keep receivers in front of him consistently.

Minnesota Vikings: RB Alexander Mattison

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    Long known as the handcuff option for Dalvin Cook to fantasy managers, Alexander Mattison may be losing grip on the No. 2 running back job with the Minnesota Vikings. He is a solid back, but his skill set might not be what the Vikings' new coaching staff is looking for.

    Among all the running backs on the roster, Mattison sticks out like a sore thumb. The majority of the Vikings' rushers offer a variety of speed and athleticism, while Mattison utilizes his power and strength more than anything.

    New Minnesota head coach Kevin O’Connell has mentioned the “illusion of complexity” multiple times over the last few months when speaking about the team’s offensive philosophy. O’Connell wants to confuse opposing defenses by forcing them to prepare for multiple offensive strategies at once.

    Cook, Kene Nwangwu and even rookie Ty Chandler will allow the Vikings to fully utilize that philosophy, while opposing defenses might have a better idea about what Minnesota’s offense will do if Mattison is on the field.

    It’s still possible that the Vikings’ new coaching staff could figure out a good role for Mattison. But Minnesota moving on from its No. 2 running back before the start of the upcoming regular season might not be as shocking as some think it would be.

New England Patriots: WR Nelson Agholor

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    The New England Patriots spent recklessly during the 2021 offseason as they rushed to plug roster holes after Tom Brady's departure. Some of the signings have worked out decently, while others haven't despite making sense on paper. One such signing was wide receiver Nelson Agholor.

    He was excellent in 2020 with the Raiders, producing a career-high 896 yards and an absurd 18.7 yards per catch. He also tied his career high in touchdowns with eight. His speed and ability to create big plays after the catch were supposed to help a Patriots offense that sorely lacked separation ability at the position.

    However, Patriots rookie quarterback Mac Jones was one of the worst deep passers in the league, per PFF, and failed to create rapport with Agholor. The 29-year-old is in the second year of a two-year, $21.8 million deal, and his $14.9 million cap hit is an albatross. New England can save $4.9 million if it cuts him now.

    Releasing Agholor would also open playing time for speedy 2022 second-round receiver Tyquan Thornton.

New Orleans Saints: CB Bradley Roby

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    The New Orleans Saints have an extra cornerback in Bradley Roby. The 30-year-old veteran was traded to the Saints last year and reworked his contract this offseason to stay with the team. His cap hit in 2022 is just $1.8 million.

    Roby is sticky in man coverage and can play outside or in the slot. There's no question he brings value to a team ready to make a playoff push. However, he's behind Marshon Lattimore and Paulson Adebo as a boundary corner, and the Saints have a bevy of slot defenders.

    Other than Roby, the only dispensable veteran on the roster whose release would save them more than $1 million is receiver Deonte Harty at almost $4 million. Harty provides important depth at his position though, as Michael Thomas still needs to prove he can stay healthy after long-term ankle troubles.

    Roby may also desire an opportunity to play more elsewhere after Alontae Taylor was drafted in the second round.

New York Giants: WR Darius Slayton

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    On the surface, the New York Giants have excellent receiver depth.

    They boast two tall, vertically gifted wideouts in the 6'4" Kenny Golladay and 6'6" Collin Johnson. Kadarius Toney and Wan'Dale Robinson are extremely dangerous players with the ball in their hands. Both Sterling Shepard and Darius Slayton provide valuable skill sets as a slot option and a deep threat, respectively.

    A seemingly unending run of injuries has kept this unit from playing together for an extended period.

    Time is running out for fourth-year receiver Darius Slayton after he missed four games last year and saw a massive dip in production when he did play. He caught only 26 passes for 339 yards and two scores in 2021. He had averaged 49 catches for 745.5 yards and 5.5 touchdowns in his first two seasons.

    After running with the second and third teams in the Giants' first preseason game, Slayton may be auditioning for his next opportunity.

New York Jets: RB Tevin Coleman

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    Having a veteran who knows the system well enough to help mentor younger teammates is a great thing. However, sacrificing a roster spot for someone who is effectively a coach is not. The New York Jets brought Tevin Coleman back despite his combined 112 carries for 409 yards and zero scores over his last 19 games.

    The 29-year-old sticks out on an otherwise youthful roster. Offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur has a variety of backs at his disposal. Adding second-round rookie Breece Hall as the star should allow the rest of the room to settle into their roles.

    With Michael Carter a well-rounded backup, Ty Johnson a capable receiver and La'Mical Perine as a short-yardage option, Coleman is no longer needed. New York must trust its developmental ability. Moving away from a veteran with no upside would be a sign of progress for this staff.

Philadelphia Eagles: G Isaac Seumalo

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    Isaac Seumalo started every game in which he played over the last three seasons, although he missed seven games in 2020 and 14 games last year. He won't be handed anything this season, even though he's considered the early favorite to start at right guard after Brandon Brooks' retirement.

    Seumalo is switching from the left to the right side after losing his job to Landon Dickerson last season because of his Lisfranc injury. He'll face plenty of competition, too.

    "Switching from one guard to the next, there's different technicalities and weight position, all this specific O-line stuff," the 28-year-old lineman told reporters. "... Every year, you're competing. They're always going to bring in somebody to compete for your job. I think when I’m healthy, I can play at a really high level. ... I don't plan on taking any breaks. My goal is to be ready."

    Jack Driscoll, Sua Opeta and second-round rookie Cam Jurgens will all be given an opportunity to win the job. The fact that any of the three could usurp Seumalo shows how much depth the Eagles have along their offensive line.

    Seumalo is the most expensive option with a $7.7 million salary-cap charge this season. The Eagles could save $5.7 million by releasing him. Unless he's the runaway winner of his positional battle, it makes little sense to keep him on the roster at that cost.

Pittsburgh Steelers: S Karl Joseph

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    After spending the majority of the 2021 season on the Pittsburgh Steelers' practice squad, Karl Joseph would have loved to have seen incumbent starter Terrell Edmunds sign elsewhere. Instead, Joseph signed a one-year deal to return to Pittsburgh prior to Edmonds' own one-year deal.

    Pittsburgh also brought Miles Killebrew back into the strong safety mix. Joseph played less than Killebrew as well last year.

    Joseph's decision to return to Pittsburgh was likely a gamble based on potential playing time. Had Edmunds departed, he could have challenged for a starting role. Instead, he's going back into a situation where he played in only two games and logged two tackles behind others who were also retained.

    Joseph was a productive player in Cleveland as recently as 2020, where he tallied 67 tackles and an interception in 14 games (eight starts). He'd be better off competing in a fresh situation in 2022 than running it back in a positional battle that he'll likely lose again.

San Francisco 49ers: QB Jimmy Garoppolo

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    It's hard to believe that the San Francisco 49ers could cut a quarterback who helped them reach two NFC Championship Games and one Super Bowl over the past three years, but they might not have another choice. They've clearly moved on from Jimmy Garoppolo in favor of 2021 No. 3 overall pick Trey Lance.

    Garoppolo's $24.2 million base salary will become guaranteed if he's still on the Niners' roster for their regular-season opener on Sept. 11, per CBS Sports' Joel Corry. If they waive him before then, they'll free up $25.5 million of cap space—which they could roll over to next year—and be left with only a $1.4 million dead cap hit.

    The Niners appear to have overestimated their leverage for a Garoppolo trade. One of his logical landing spots, the Carolina Panthers, opted to trade for Baker Mayfield instead. The Niners are now just waiting to see if they can shed Garoppolo's salary and pick up an asset in return rather than waiving him.

    That isn't a bad plan. The New York Jets already had a scare with Zach Wilson's knee in his preseason debut. Cleveland could potentially be an option if Deshaun Watson gets suspended for the season.

    If the Niners can't find a taker for Garoppolo by Sept. 11, they'll have little choice but to cut him. Not getting an asset for him would hurt, but keeping him as a backup for Lance would be an incredible misuse of salary-cap space.

Seattle Seahawks: RB Rashaad Penny

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    For the first three years of Rashaad Penny's NFL career, the Seattle Seahawks didn't get much return on investment. The 2018 first-round pick missed 21 of his first 48 games, and he tallied only 161 carries for 823 yards and five touchdowns over that span.

    Penny erupted down the stretch last season, though, racking up 92 carries for 671 yards and six touchdowns over his final five games. He led the league in both yards per touch and breakaway run rate, according to Player Profiler.

    The Seahawks re-signed Penny to a one-year, $5.7 million deal this offseason, but his injury issues have already re-emerged. He missed the first preseason game with a groin strain, although head coach Pete Carroll said the injury isn't a long-term issue.

    The Seahawks have plenty of backfield depth to survive without Penny. Second-round pick Kenneth Walker III has tremendous talent, while 2020 fourth-round pick Deejay Dallas broke out in the first preseason game with 73 yards on 10 carries. Travis Homer is another fine backup with a career average of 5.9 yards per carry.

    Moving on from Penny is more symbolic than a financial move. The franchise has dealt with continued health issues from Penny and watched Chris Carson retire after five seasons due to injuries. Even Walker just suffered a hernia injury that has his immediate availability in doubt.

    The Seahawks would save only $560,000 by releasing him, but they could open more playing time for Walker, Dallas and Homer. Penny's frequent injury issues make it impossible for Seattle to rely on him long-term.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: WR Scotty Miller

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    The Tampa Bay Buccaneers were the one team seemingly equipped to handle losing two star receivers in 2021 and still push for a Super Bowl run.

    Two weeks after Chris Godwin tore his ACL, Antonio Brown walked off the field mid-game and never played another snap for Tampa Bay again. The Bucs plugged in the combination of Tyler Johnson, Cyril Grayson, and Breshad Perriman and almost got past the eventual Super Bowl champion Los Angeles Rams in the divisional round.

    Godwin is still recovering from his injury, so the Buccaneers added Russell Gage and Julio Jones this offseason. Now, the forgotten man amongst the group is fourth-year receiver Scotty Miller.

    Miller spent eight weeks on injured reserve last season because of a turf toe injury and played only sparingly in nine games. His lack of impact was shocking considering the success he found with Tom Brady in their first year together.

    The speedy 5'9" wideout averaged 15.2 yards per catch and totaled 501 yards and three scores in 2020. He's stuck behind the deepest receiving corps in the league, but he should catch on elsewhere with his ability to get open quickly.

Tennessee Titans: QB Logan Woodside

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    When the Tennessee Titans spent a third-round pick to select quarterback Malik Willis this spring, that should have put Logan Woodside on notice.

    Willis is everything Woodside isn't as a quarterback. He boasts an extremely strong arm and elite mobility. He's raw as a pocket passer but can also be a defense's nightmare if he has to relieve Ryan Tannehill for any amount of time.

    Woodside is an unimpactful presence. He went 14-of-24 for 102 yards and two interceptions in the Titans' first preseason game against the Baltimore Ravens. Willis also had his fair share of struggles, but he was a far more electric presence with five carries for 38 yards and a touchdown.

    The Titans would be wasting time if they continue to give developmental snaps to Woodside. Willis needs as much experience as possible as he adjusts to NFL defenses.

    If the Titans hit on Willis, they might be able to move on from Tannehill in 2023 and unleash a feared backfield with Willis and Derrick Henry.

Washington Commanders: QB Taylor Heinicke

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    Quarterback Taylor Heinicke started 15 of 17 regular-season games for the Washington Commanders last season. Clearly, the team had seen enough.

    Heinicke has a wonderful story as an underdog who rose to the occasion and got the most of his ability. The undrafted free agent also had a stint with the XFL's St. Louis BattleHawks.

    The 29-year-old showed he can play, even if he's not Kurt Warner. However, the Commanders traded for Carson Wentz in March.

    Heinicke's skill set didn't do enough to open up Washington's offense. Head coach Ron Rivera believes Wentz's can.

    "It allows us to throw the ball vertical more so than we had in the past," Rivera told reporters. "It opens up some stuff underneath in the passing game; it opens up some of the running game knowing that you're not going to be able to put eight guys in the box and forcing [the defense] to choose five, six, seven guys in the box."

    Washington also drafted North Carolina's Sam Howell with a fifth-round pick this year. Howell showed a quick release and NFL traits in his preseason debut after a tremendous collegiate career. A young passer with promise behind Wentz should be all Washington needs at quarterback.

    The Commanders could save $3.125 million by releasing Heinicke.

    All salary-cap information is courtesy of Over The Cap. Statistics via Pro Football Reference unless otherwise noted.


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