Biggest Takeaways from Every NFL Team's Final 2022 Roster Cuts
Cutdown day is a bittersweet event in the NFL. The setting of 53-player rosters means that teams are almost ready for the regular season and that Week 1 is close.
However, it also means that many quality players are now out of a job.
Some players will be picked up by other teams or land on a practice squad. However, by 4 p.m. ET on Tuesday, hundreds of players had their NFL dreams put on hold.
Some of the cuts we've seen in the past few days were expected. Some were rather surprising. Many of them were revealing.
Below, we'll relay our biggest takeaways from teams' most notable roster cuts and what it could all mean for the 2022 season. Teams are listed in alphabetical order, and a full cuts tracker can be found at NFL.com.
On Tuesday, the Arizona Cardinals waived quarterback Trace McSorley, a three-year veteran who the team picked up last November.
While the release of McSorley doesn't mean a ton by itself, it does suggest the Cardinals have good news on the quarterback front. Kyler Murray's backup, Colt McCoy, should be ready to roll in Week 1.
McCoy had been dealing with arm soreness early in camp and did not make an appearance during the preseason. However, Arizona was confident that the 35-year-old would be ready for backup duties.
"By game week, I expect him to be full go," head coach Kliff Kingsbury told reporters.
McCoy made three starts in place of Murray last season and performed well. Arizona went 2-1 in those contests, while McCoy finished the year with a 101.4 passer rating. As veteran backups go, Arizona could hardly ask for a better one.
McSorley, who had the edge in experience over undrafted Washington State rookie Jarrett Guarantano, would have been the logical emergency option. The release of both McSorley and Guarantano means that McCoy will be holding the clipboard against the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 1.
The Atlanta Falcons wide receiver group remains a work in progress, as they remain hopeful rookie Drake London will be ready to play by Week 1. He has been out since August 12 with a knee injury.
“I feel good about where he's at, but I'm not going to make a prediction,” head coach Arthur Smith said, per D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “But I feel good about where he's at."
The depth behind London, Olamide Zaccheaus and offseason acquisition Bryan Edwards is questionable, and receivers Tyshaun James, Auden Tate and Geronimo Allison were among Atlanta's cuts.
It's also worth noting that Atlanta tried to make a move for Jacksonville Jaguars receiver Laviska Shenault Jr. before he was traded to the Carolina Panthers.
"Packers, Falcons were among the other teams that were talking to the Jaguars about trading for Shenault before they reached a deal with the Panthers, per sources," ESPN's Dan Graziano tweeted Tuesday morning.
Our guess is Atlanta is far from finished with its receiver room and should be a team to watch on the waiver wire in the coming days.
The big news for the Baltimore Ravens has less to do with their roster cuts and more do with an addition at running back. According to CBS Sports' Josina Anderson, Kenyan Drake is expected to sign with Baltimore, pending a physical.
In an update, Anderson reported that Drake's physical was "seamless" and that he is now expected to sign Wednesday.
The Ravens' decision to add Drake may give some clarity on how they view their running back situation—and it's not ideal. Projected starter J.K. Dobbins and No. 2 back Gus Edwards are both working back from torn ACLs suffered before the start of the 2021 season.
Edwards has already been subtracted from the roster and placed on the physically unable to perform list. Dobbins' immediate future is still up in the air.
"Edwards is on PUP and will miss four weeks," NFL Network's Ian Rapoport tweeted. "As for JK Dobbins, Ravens coach John Harbaugh said about Week 1: 'If JK can go, I look at it now, it would be great. If not, we've got the guys that'll play.'"
Drake suffered a broken ankle with the Las Vegas Raiders last season, but assuming his medicals check out, he could see early playing time for Baltimore. The Ravens also released running backs Corey Clement, Tyler Badie and Nate McCrary as part of the cutdown process.
Teams often trade players for whom they can't find a role rather than outright release them. That's what the Buffalo Bills did with 2019 second-round pick Cody Ford, whom they dealt to the Arizona Cardinals for a 2023 fifth-round pick.
Ford started 15 games as a rookie but started only seven in each of the past two seasons. A torn meniscus limited him to only seven games in 2020, but he appeared in 15 contests last season. In 2021, he was responsible for three penalties and two sacks allowed in 485 snaps, according to Pro Football Focus.
The trade was a bit of a surprise, as Ford is heading into the final year of his rookie contract and was reportedly having a strong camp.
"He's done a really good job,” Bills head coach Sean McDermott said, per The Athletic's Tim Graham. "You saw him finishing off blocks in a physical manner today. That stood out to me. He's had a phenomenal training camp to this point."
However, this move suggests Ford's future wasn't in Buffalo and that the Bills are comfortable with the depth behind starting guards Rodger Saffold and Ryan Bates.
The Carolina Panthers took a flier on former Jaguars wide receiver Laviska Shenault Jr. just before the cutdown deadline. One of the cuts made to accommodate the trade was the release of versatile receiver and special teamer Brandon Zylstra.
He went undrafted out of Concordia-Moorhead in 2016 and spent two years with the Edmonton Eskimos before entering the NFL with the Minnesota Vikings in 2018. He had been with Carolina since 2019 and filled a variety of roles.
In addition to being a core special teamer, Zylstra served as a complementary receiver and emergency kicker. Last season, he caught 18 passes for 250 yards and a touchdown while helping to provide a quarterback rating of 117.1 when targeted. He returned one kickoff and averaged 48.7 yards on three kickoffs of his own.
However, the 29-year-old had limited upside as a receiver, and the Panthers seem to want to put a better supporting cast around new starting quarterback Baker Mayfield.
"A more proven veteran receiver might be something they're interested in going into the season," Darin Gantt of the team's website wrote Monday. "Keep an eye on that."
While Shenault might not qualify as a proven veteran to some, the Panthers clearly like his potential enough to move on from a versatile depth player.
The Chicago Bears' focus in 2022 should be on developing second-year quarterback Justin Fields. Part of that process should include improving an offensive line that was disastrous during Fields' rookie campaign.
The Ohio State product was sacked 36 times and put under pressure on 27.3 percent of his dropbacks.
Fortunately for Fields, the Bears seem to be finding an offensive line in which they are confident. As Alex Shapiro of NBC Sports Chicago noted, the new-look lineup doesn't include 2021 second-round pick Teven Jenkins at tackle.
"With no good answers at right guard, the Bears decided to try Jenkins inside, and he’s stuck there ever since," Shapiro wrote.
Instead, it's been rookie fifth-round pick Braxton Jones at left tackle and 2021 fifth-round pick Larry Borom at right tackle. The release of veteran tackle Julie'n Davenport suggests that Chicago is confident in this duo and with Riley Reiff as the backup swing tackle.
Davenport has never been a high-end starter, but he has appeared in 60 games with 32 starts over the past five seasons. He can provide value as an experienced backup. However, Chicago seems to believe that its line is settled enough that it wasn't worth keeping Davenport at his $1 million price point.
The Cincinnati Bengals made a surprise run to Super Bowl LVI last season, and they'll look to get back in the title hunt this year. They won't get far, however, without budding superstar Joe Burrow under center.
Fans got a bit of a scare at the onset of training camp when Burrow underwent surgery for a ruptured appendix. It didn't leave the LSU product with a ton of recovery time.
"When they cut into you and do all that stuff your core is going to lose some muscle and some strength just getting that back," Burrow said, per ESPN's Ben Baby.
Burrow didn't appear in the preseason, but we got an indication this week that the Bengals believe he'll be ready for Week 1. Quarterback Jake Browning, who spent last season on Cincinnati's practice squad, was waived as part of the final cutdown.
Browning went 42-of-64 for 452 yards and a touchdown in the preseason and is a logical candidate to return to Cincinnati's practice squad. However, his release means that the Bengals will only carry Burrow and Brandon Allen on their active Week 1 roster.
With only two quarterbacks on the active roster, Burrow looks like he will be under center against the Pittsburgh Steelers on September 11.
The Cleveland Browns trimmed a few wide receivers from their roster, including Javon Wims and Ja'Marcus Bradley, but 2021 third-round pick Anthony Schwartz was not among them. While the speedy Auburn product has his draft status working in his favor, he has yet to significantly contribute.
As a rookie, Schwartz caught only 10 passes on 23 targets for 135 yards and a touchdown, and he had a 59.1 passer rating when targeted. Drops have been an issue for him this preseason, too.
Cleveland's depth at receiver is iffy behind trade acquisition Amari Cooper and Donovan Peoples-Jones. It would make a lot of sense to roll with pass-catchers who can provide more reliability. However, Cleveland appears willing to remain patient with Schwartz.
"No," Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski told reporters when asked if Schwartz was in danger of being cut. "Respectfully, we are going to make sure that we deal with things that are important, which are our players and how they respond to these things."
Schwartz will get at least one more season to prove himself, which isn't shocking. He ran a 4.26-second 40-yard dash at Auburn's pro day, and that sort of speed isn't easy to find. Expect Cleveland to find ways to utilize it, even if it means dealing with Schwartz's inconsistency as a pass-catcher.
There are two big takeaways from the Dallas Cowboys' Tuesday cuts, and both involve the status of left tackle Tyron Smith.
The eight-time Pro Bowler recently suffered an avulsion fracture during practice. According to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport, Smith isn't expected back until at least December.
However, Dallas didn't execute a trade to help replace Smith at the deadline, which means one of two things. Either the Cowboys truly believe that rookie first-round pick Tyler Smith can be their starting left tackle, or they're waiting to see what's available on this week's waiver wire.
The other thing to note is that Dallas did release kicker Brett Maher, long snapper Jake McQuaide and special teamer C.J. Goodwin. However, all three are expected to be brought back by Week 1, according to ESPN's Todd Archer.
Dallas' unconventional cuts were likely made to carry players like Smith and receiver James Washington on the initial roster.
Putting Tyron Smith on injured reserve now would mean that he would be ineligible to return in 2022. By giving him a roster spot and waiting to put him on IR later, the Cowboys have made it clear that they're holding out hope for his return during the playoff stretch.
Expect Dallas' specialists to return for Week 1, and expect the Cowboys to sort through the list of linemen released by other teams.
With Russell Wilson now under center, the Denver Broncos offense is likely to lean on the pass more than it has in recent years. However, the receiving corps took a hit this offseason when wideout Tim Patrick suffered a season-ending torn ACL.
Despite Patrick's injury, Denver parted with multiple receivers—including Trey Quinn, Travis Fulgham and Kaden Davis—as part of the cutdown process. That suggests Denver likes the receiver depth it has behind starters Courtland Sutton and Jerry Jeudy.
The return of K.J. Hamler could be a big reason why.
The 2020 second-round pick was hampered by hamstring issues as a rookie and then suffered a torn ACL in 2021. He has appeared in only 16 games and caught 35 passes for 455 yards and three touchdowns.
However, Hamler is on the mend and made a point to appear in the preseason finale.
"We had to take him out, he wanted to keep going," Broncos head coach Nathaniel Hackett said, per Jon Heath of Broncos Wire. "... For a guy that hasn't played for as long as he had, it's very encouraging, and he's feeling a lot better."
If Hamler is back to 100 percent, he, Jeudy and Sutton should form a dynamic trio with tight end Albert Okwuegbunam rounding out the starting receiving corps. If the Broncos didn't believe that Hamler was back, they likely would have kept experienced receivers like Quinn and Fulgham on board as insurance.
Perhaps the biggest surprise of the Detroit Lions' late cuts was the release of Jarrad Davis.
He was selected 21st in the 2017 draft and spent his first four seasons in Detroit before going to the New York Jets last year. This offseason, he re-signed with the Lions on a one-year, $1.2 million deal.
First-round picks usually get multiple chances in the NFL, and at just 27 years old, Davis may still have untapped potential. His contract wasn't exactly a financial burden either. However, the Florida product has had his issues with pass coverage and missed tackles.
In his last season with Detroit, for example, Davis missed eight tackles and allowed an opposing passer rating of 144.6 in coverage.
This offseason marked Davis' first under head coach Dan Campbell and defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn. While the former Detroit regime was willing to deal with Davis' ups and downs—he did have 305 tackles and 10.5 sacks in his first four years—the new one was obviously not.
Given his age and draft pedigree, though, Davis should find another home this season.
Green Bay Packers
The Green Bay Packers, it seems, aren't entirely sold on their new-look receiving corps. Green Bay dealt star Davante Adams this offseason and added Sammy Watkins and rookies Christian Watkins and Romeo Doubs.
Receiver Malik Taylor was placed on injured reserve, while fellow wideout Danny Davis was released. The more interesting development, though, is that the Packers inquired about Laviska Shenault Jr. before he was traded to the Panthers, according to ESPN's Dan Graziano.
The Packers' interest in Shenault may stem from what has been an underwhelming offseason for Watson.
The Packers' second-round pick has missed time following knee surgery and dealt with drop issues early in the offseason.
"His hands have definitely been questionable," Andy Herman of Packer Report tweeted in late May. "I don't think there's been a practice yet where he hasn't dropped at least one pass."
The North Dakota State product only returned to team drills last week, and it's fair to wonder if he'll be in game shape by Week 1. Don't be surprised if the Packers continue tinkering with their receiver group between now and September 11.
The Houston Texans raised a few eyebrows when they picked up kicker Matt Ammendola partway through the preseason. Ka'imi Fairbairn has been their kicker for the last five seasons, but he missed the start of the 2021 season while dealing with a groin injury that he suffered at the end of the preseason.
The injury may have affected Fairbairn last season, as he made a career-low 78.9 percent of his field goals, down from 87.1 percent the previous year. The Texans added Ammendola because Fairbairn was once again dealing with an (undisclosed) injury.
However, the Texans waived Ammendola shortly after their preseason finale, which suggests that Fairbairn's injury isn't serious and he should be ready for Week 1. Dominik Eberle and Joey Slye filled in for Fairbairn last season.
The other takeaway here is that Ammendola is back on the market and could get a look from a kicker-needy franchise as a fill-in.
Undrafted in 2020, Ammendola spent part of the 2021 offseason with the Panthers and appeared in 11 games for the New York Jets last season. He made 13 of 19 field goals and 14 of 15 extra points before being released and signed to the practice squad. He missed a 31-yard field goal in Houston's preseason finale but made a 45-yarder and both point-after tries.
Expect Houston to keep tabs on Ammendola as injury insurance for Fairbairn.
It appears that the Indianapolis Colts will keep three quarterbacks on their 2022 roster. Trade acquisition Matt Ryan will be the starter, with Super Bowl LII MVP Nick Foles as his backup. Do the Colts really need additional depth? Perhaps not, but they're keeping 2021 sixth-round pick Sam Ehlinger anyway.
Indianapolis must see something special in the Texas product, either as a long-term developmental project or as a sub-package player. Otherwise, keeping him over a valuable veteran such as running back Phillip Lindsay, who was released, wouldn't make a ton of sense.
The Colts could have tried sneaking Ehlinger onto the practice squad, though it might have been a challenge. The 23-year-old shined during the preseason, going 24-of-29 for 289 yards and four touchdowns.
"Sam has had a phenomenal preseason," Colts coach Frank Reich said, per Nate Atkins of the Indianapolis Star. "It's hard to imagine having a better preseason than he’s had. He's done everything he’s needed to do."
Indy values Ehlinger as more than just a third option at quarterback and believed that another franchise would be quick to claim him if he reached the waiver wire.
The Jacksonville Jaguars told us plenty about their plans at receiver when they traded Laviska Shenault Jr. to the Panthers on Monday. Jacksonville received a 2023 seventh-round pick and a 2024 sixth-rounder in return, according to ESPN's David Newton.
The moving of Shenault, a 2020 second-round pick, suggests Jacksonville is happy with what it has seen from offseason acquisitions Zay Jones and Christian Kirk. Those two, along with seasoned vet Marvin Jones Jr. and tight end Evan Engram figure to be Trevor Lawrence's top targets in 2022.
The other factor to consider is that Shenault and Lawrence never really seemed to click during the quarterback's rookie campaign in 2021.
Shenault flashed promise the previous season, finishing with 600 receiving yards and five touchdowns while helping to provide a quarterback rating of 116.0 when targeted. Last year, though, he had 619 yards, no touchdowns and helped provide a passer rating of just 72.0.
It's clear that new head coach Doug Pederson is looking to give Lawrence a fresh start. Shenault gets his own fresh start in Carolina with former Jaguars quarterbacks coach and current Panthers offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo.
Kansas City Chiefs
The Chiefs don't know what the future holds for starting left tackle Orlando Brown Jr. However, they do know that he'll play on the franchise tag in 2022.
The Chiefs also appear comfortable with their depth behind Brown. Offensive tackle Roderick Johnson was among Kansas City's late roster cuts.
Johnson has been with Kansas City since joining the practice squad in January. He was signed to a reserve/future contract in February and was running with the first-team offense before Brown reported to training camp.
However, players like free-agent addition Geron Christian and 2020 sixth-round pick Prince Tega Wanogho have emerged in the weeks since.
"Since then, Jeron Christian has emerged as a candidate for the team's swing tackle position, while Prince Tega Wanogho also showed progress after getting off the physically unable to perform list with a leg injury," Jesse Newell of the Kansas City Star wrote.
Johnson, a 2017 fifth-round pick of the Browns, has 29 regular-season games and six starts on his resume. While he didn't see the regular-season field last year, he appeared in 12 games and started three games for the Texans in 2020.
The Chiefs felt good enough about their depth to let Johnson go. However, his experience should allow him to land with another team or on a practice squad this season.
Las Vegas Raiders
The new Las Vegas Raiders regime of head coach Josh McDaniels and GM Dave Ziegler is full speed ahead with its vision for the organization. That was made perfectly clear Tuesday when Las Vegas waived 2021 first-round pick Alex Leatherwood.
The Alabama product was a massive disappointment as a rookie. He was responsible for 14 penalties and eight sacks, according to Pro Football Focus.
Naturally, McDaniels and Ziegler had no ties to Leatherwood, who was selected by the previous regime. However, it was still a shock to see the 23-year-old released outright. According to ESPN's Jeremy Fowler, other teams were interested in Leatherwood ahead of cutdown day.
"Several teams I've spoken to are keeping an eye on OL Alex Leatherwood, believing he might be traded or released," Fowler tweeted Friday.
Our guess is that Las Vegas is confident that a team will claim Leatherwood and pick up the remainder of his four-year, $14 million contract. Either that, or the potential value of keeping Leatherwood as a trade chip simply didn't outweigh the value of clearing a roster spot. Either way, the Raiders were obviously ready to move on sooner than later.
Los Angeles Chargers
Early in the offseason, it seemed that 2019 first-round pick Jerry Tillery could be on the Los Angeles Chargers' roster bubble. The Chargers had declined his fifth-year option and had guaranteed the defensive lineman nothing going into the offseason.
"He's going to fit into that competition of guys that are going to have to earn a role," head coach Brandon Staley said, per Michael David Smith of ProFootballTalk. "During this springtime and during training camp, all of those guys are going to really have to duke it out to establish themselves."
However, Tillery appears safe, at least for now.
The Chargers released defensive tackles Christian Covington and Joe Gaziano on Tuesday, one day after Andrew Brown was released. Covington's release was a bit surprising, as he was a valuable rotational player last season.
In 16 games with three starts, Covington logged 52 tackles and a sack.
It seems that L.A. will give Tillery one more season in which to prove himself. The Notre Dame product had a career-best 51 tackles and 4.5 sacks last year. If he can build upon that, he may still have a long-term future with the Chargers.
Los Angeles Rams
The Los Angeles Rams didn't have any truly shocking cuts at the deadline. This is a veteran team looking for players who can help it get back to the Super Bowl. However, the release of 2021 fourth-round pick Jacob Harris was somewhat surprising.
The former UCF star and hybrid tight end has loads of physical upside and got a shot at wide receiver this offseason.
"That doesn’t mean that I can't go back to tight end, because I do have a unique skill set. But as of right now, I'm a receiver," Harris said in July, per The Athletic's Jourdan Rodrigue.
However, the Rams never really gave Harris a chance to shine. He primarily played on special teams as a rookie and suffered a torn ACL and MCL in Week 9. This preseason, he was outpaced by undrafted rookie receiver Lance McCutcheon. The Montana State product had at least 76 receiving yards in each of his preseason outings.
Head coach Sean McVay made it a point to praise McCutcheon and third-year quarterback Bryce Perkins ahead of cutdown day.
"Both of those guys have done a great job," McVay said, per Cameron DaSilva of Rams Wire. "You'd be hard-pressed to think that they haven't done what they could to earn [a roster spot]."
McCutcheon appears to be a player who can contribute right away, while Harris is still a project. However, Harris should be a candidate for the practice squad if he isn't claimed by another team first.
Last season, the Miami Dolphins ranked just 30th in rushing yards and 31st in yards per carry. Miami will have a new-look rushing attack in 2022, however, and it figures to feature Chase Edmonds and Raheem Mostert heavily.
As part of roster cuts, Miami released running backs Gerrid Doaks, ZaQuandre White and Sony Michel. Doaks, a 2021 seventh-round pick, and undrafted rookie White were unsurprising releases. Michel's was more eyebrow-raising.
When we last saw Michel in a meaningful football game, it was with the Rams in Super Bowl LVI. He signed a one-year, $1.75 million deal with the Dolphins that included $850,000 guaranteed.
While Miami didn't pay a ton to dump Michel, it saved just $900,000. The move suggests the Dolphins are firmly behind fellow offseason acquisitions Edmonds and Mostert—along with returning backs Myles Gaskin and Salvon Ahmed.
Expect to see a committee of ball-carriers Miami. New head coach Mike McDaniel frequently used multiple backs as the running game coordinator and later offensive coordinator of the San Francisco 49ers. Also expect to see a fair bit of Mostert, who spent the last five seasons under McDaniel with San Francisco.
In one of the more notable moves of late roster cuts, the Minnesota Vikings parted with quarterback and 2021 third-round pick Kellen Mond.
Minnesota took the Texas A&M product as a developmental project behind starter Kirk Cousins. However, even when Cousins was sidelined last season, Mond saw little playing time. Sean Mannion started one game, while Mond attempted just three passes all season.
Mond continued to disappoint this preseason.
"When Kellen came in, we just could not do much," head coach Kevin O'Connell said, per Andrew Krammer of the Star Tribune. "We had a few plays where we had a chance to make something happen and couldn't."
With little confidence in Mond, the Vikings made a late-offseason trade for Raiders backup Nick Mullens. He has 17 starts on his resume and should immediately be the top backup behind Cousins.
Even without a defined role in 2022, Mond was still a surprising cut. By giving up on the third-rounder after just one season, Minnesota has made it clear that it doesn't view Mond as a player worth developing.
Another franchise may feel differently, and it won't be a surprise to see Mond claimed off waivers.
New England Patriots
The New England Patriots' release of cornerback Malcolm Butler wasn't a major surprise. The former Patriots standout didn't play in 2021 and landed on injured reserve with a hip injury during the preseason.
New England released Butler from injured reserve with an injury settlement. The big takeaway here is that Butler may not be out for the entire year.
"The injury settlement negotiated between the Patriots and CB Malcolm Butler is for about 6 regular season weeks," ESPN's Field Yates tweeted. "While Butler can sign with another team at any point now, that settlement suggests he would be available to play around mid-to-late October."
There's a chance that Butler will be back in 2022, and there's at least some chance that he'll be back with New England. The Patriots could certainly use experienced depth in the secondary after losing star corner J.C. Jackson in free agency.
While Butler spent last year in retirement, he was a quality starter in 2020. He started all 16 games with the Tennessee Titans that season and allowed an opposing passer rating of only 83.2 in coverage.
Butler is off the Patriots for now, but they could look to bring him back in the middle of the season if other cornerback-needy teams don't kick the tires on the 32-year-old.
New Orleans Saints
Tight end Chris Herndon was among the New Orleans Saints' roster cuts. The 26-year-old had only four catches for 40 yards and a touchdown with the Minnesota Vikings last season, but he had flashed as a pass-catcher previously.
Herndon caught 39 passes for 502 yards and four touchdowns with the New York Jets as a rookie in 2018. In his four NFL seasons, he has 75 catches for 836 yards and eight scores.
The Saints' release of Herndon suggests they're happy with the progress of third-year tight end Adam Trautman. The 2020 third-round selection has only 42 catches and 434 yards through two seasons, but he was hampered by a preseason ankle injury and an MCL sprain last year.
Now that he's healthy, Trautman could be poised for a breakout season.
"He looks like a different guy," tight ends coach Dan Roushar said of Trautman, per Luke Johnson of NOLA.com.
Secondly, it suggests that New Orleans is happy with Taysom Hill, who is focusing solely on being a tight end this season.
"I don't think what I have been doing is going to change, it's just expanding that role," Hill said, per Michael Hull of the team's official website. "They're trying to give me the best opportunity to be successful."
The Saints seemingly believe that Trautman and Hill can be a quality tight end tandem in 2022. If they didn't, they wouldn't have released a tight end with 49 games and 30 starts on his four-year resume.
New York Giants
The New York Giants trimmed their roster to 53, and they did it without trading or releasing wideout Darius Slayton. This was somewhat surprising, as Slayton has long looked like a potential cap casualty.
The 25-year-old is in a crowded receiver room and is set to carry a cap hit of $2.6 million in 2022—with only $58,497 of that guaranteed. Instead of releasing Slayton, the Giants parted with receivers C.J. Board and Alex Bachman.
This doesn't guarantee that Slayton will be on New York's Week 1 roster, though.
"Just because Slayton hasn’t been traded yet doesn’t mean he won’t be, eventually," Darryl Slater of NJ.com wrote. "It could take some time for a trade to materialize."
According to ESPN's Adam Schefter, the Giants have gotten trade inquiries about Slayton. It's possible that New York believes a trade market will still be there well into the regular season.
That's our takeaway, anyway. Slayton isn't likely to see a lot of playing time with Kenny Golladay, Kadarius Toney, Wan'Dale Robinson and Sterling Shepard topping the depth chart. New York probably wouldn't pass on $2.5 million in cap savings if it didn't believe it could get something in return for Slayton down the line.
New York Jets
Like the Giants, the New York Jets had a receiver at the epicenter of trade buzz heading into cutdown day.
Jets wideout Denzel Mims requested a trade, though the Jets remained adamant that they didn't want to deal the 2020 second-round pick.
"I'm not going to say it's over with him," head coach Robert Saleh said, per Ryan Dunleavy of the New York Post. "I'm standing by it: He's had a really good OTAs; he's done a really good job in training camp. It's just a matter of him finding his niche."
Like Slayton, Mims is on a New York roster, though that could change. According to ESPN's Rich Cimini, the only certainty is that the Jets won't cut Mims.
"The Jets should be down to 6 WRs by the time they practice at 2:30—and that includes Denzel Mims, who will be on the field," Cimini tweeted Tuesday. "They have no intention of cutting him. It would have to be a trade."
This feels like New York trying to hold on to a potential trade chip more than the Jets having an actual plan for the Baylor product. Through two seasons, Mims made only 11 starts and caught 31 passes for 490 yards and no touchdowns. He's unlikely to see more playing time now behind Elijah Moore, Braxton Berrios, Corey Davis and rookie first-round pick Garrett Wilson.
The Philadelphia Eagles made a surprising addition just before the cutdown deadline, acquiring defensive back Chauncey Gardner-Johnson from the Saints.
He made 31 starts for New Orleans over the past three years and has played well. Last season, he allowed an opposing passer rating of only 67.7 in coverage. Philadelphia's plan, according to Jeff McLane of the Philadelphia Inquirer, is to play Gardner-Johnson at safety in coordinator Jonathan Gannon's defense.
"RE: Chauncey Gardner-Johnson’s role. He will be the safety opposite Marcus Epps," McLane tweeted. "As for experience in slot vs. safety, positions can mirror each other, especially in Gannon’s scheme. Not much to project in quarters, Cover 2."
While Gardner-Johnson is in the final year of his rookie contract, the Eagles may view him as a long-term contributor. According to ESPN's Adam Schefter, Philadelphia surrendered a 2023 fifth-round pick and a 2024 sixth-rounder for CGJ and a 2025 seventh-rounder.
In a related move, the Eagles released safety Anthony Harris as part of their cuts. Harris, who allowed an opposing passer rating of just 68.7 in coverage last season, should catch on somewhere rather quickly.
The Pittsburgh Steelers continue to revamp a linebacker group that underwhelmed in 2021—aside from star T.J. Watt, of course. The Steelers ranked 24th in total defense and last in both rushing yards and yards per carry allowed last season.
Pittsburgh acquired linebacker Myles Jack early in the offseason and drafted Mark Robinson in the seventh round. On cutdown day, the team acquired Malik Reed from the Broncos.
"Trade: Broncos sending LB Malik Reed to the Pittsburgh Steelers for late draft-pick compensation, per sources," ESPN's Adams Schefter tweeted.
Reed entered the league as an undrafted free agent out of Nevada in 2019, and he quickly found a prominent role in Denver's defense. Over the past three seasons, he appeared in 45 games with 34 starts. Last year, he started 13 contests and finished with 43 tackles, five sacks, two forced fumbles and 22 quarterback pressures.
This is a tremendous pickup by the Steelers, who also released linebackers Genard Avery, T.D. Moultry, Ulysees Gilbert III, Buddy Johnson and Tuzar Skipper during the cutdown process. It wouldn't be a shock to see Pittsburgh continue tinkering with its linebacker lineup ahead of its Week 1 opener against Cincinnati.
San Francisco 49ers
The most notable thing about the 49ers' cuts is that quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo wasn't among them. The 30-year-old was the topic of trade buzz all offseason, and with a $24.2 million base salary, it appeared likely he would be a cap casualty with Trey Lance set to take over as the starter in Week 1.
However, the 49ers have insisted they are OK with carrying Garoppolo into the regular season.
"We're happy to have him on the roster. And if that's the case, then that's the case," 49ers CEO Jed York told Tim Kawakami of The Athletic on Aug. 18.
While this felt like a bargaining tactic meant to drum up trade interest, San Francisco indeed kept Garoppolo. Only it did so at a reduced price.
The Niners now have a ton of flexibility with Garoppolo. They can keep him as insurance at a fair price. If another contender's starter goes down before the trade deadline, they'll have a much easier time moving his contract.
With Russell Wilson no longer at quarterback, the Seattle Seahawks are firmly in rebuilding mode. Much of this season will be about planning for the future and auditioning younger players who can be part of the rebuilding process.
Therefore, the release of 24-year-old wide receiver Freddie Swain was a bit of a shock. The Florida product appeared in all 17 games last season and ranked third among the team's wideouts with 343 receiving yards and four touchdowns. He helped provide a passer rating of 123.2 when targeted.
It had seemed logical that Seattle would keep its top receiving trio of DK Metcalf, Tyler Lockett and Swain intact. However, the Seahawks will go in a different direction.
Swain's release likely means that Seattle plans to give more opportunities to 2021 second-round pick D'Wayne Eskridge and offseason acquisition Marquise Goodwin. Evaluating Eskridge will be particularly important, as the Western Michigan product saw just 187 snaps and 20 targets as a rookie.
If Swaim clears waivers, he'll be a logical candidate for Seattle's practice squad.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Undrafted rookie wideout Jerreth Sterns always faced long odds to make the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' regular-season roster. The Buccaneers are relatively loaded at receiver, with Mike Evans and Chris Godwin headlining a group that includes Russell Gage, Julio Jones and Jaelon Darden.
Yet, it felt like Sterns had a legitimate shot at sticking early in the offseason. The Western Kentucky product led the nation in receiving last year, catching 150 passes for 1,902 yards and 17 touchdowns. He also made a strong early impression on the Bucs.
"He's quick. He caught a lot of balls in college," head coach Todd Bowles said in May, per Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times. "He's got very good hands, so he flashes in practice."
Sterns was released along with Kameron Brown, Tyler Johnson and Vyncint Smith, which may mean that Tampa feels good about the health of its top pass-catchers. Godwin is working his way back from a torn ACL, while Evans and Gage both dealt with hamstring issues in camp.
The Buccaneers may try to sneak Sterns through waivers and onto the practice squad. However, the rookie may have flashed enough—he had four catches for 51 yards and a touchdown in Tampa's preseason opener—to be claimed by another team.
The release of Johnson, who had 529 yards and two touchdowns over the last two seasons, was also surprising. However, it also speaks to the talent the team has at the forefront of its receiver room.
The release of a punter might not make headlines in most cases. However, the Tennessee Titans' release of Brett Kern was noteworthy.
Kern, whom the Titans claimed off waivers in 2009, was the longest-tenured player on their roster. The three-time Pro Bowler had appeared in at least 13 games for 12 straight seasons.
With Kern out, undrafted rookie Ryan Stonehouse should be Tennessee's punter in 2022. Making that decision wasn't easy.
"That’s a tough decision that we’ve got moving forward, deciding what direction we want to go,” general manager Jon Robinson said, per Nick Gray of the Tennessean. "Both of those guys have certainly earned the right to be on a 53-man roster and be a punter in this league."
The Titans, who were the AFC's No. 1 seed last year, are looking to remain in Super Bowl contention this season. Switching to Stonehouse may give their special teams a boost.
Last season, Kern ranked only 23rd in yards-per-punt average (44.8). The Titans wouldn't have parted with him if they viewed him as the best option, though.
Kern should have a reasonable shot at finding a new home this season. Although his last Pro Bowl (and first-team All-Pro) campaign came in 2019, the 36-year-old has 219 regular-season games on his resume. His experience should land him a job at some point in 2022.
As part of their effort to trim the roster, the Washington Commanders placed star pass-rusher Chase Young on the reserve/physically unable to perform list. While Young will be available this season, he'll have to sit out for at least the first four games.
That means Washington won't have one of its top defenders on the field for an opening slate that includes games against the division-rival Eagles and Cowboys. It also raises questions about Young's recovery.
The 2020 Defensive Rookie of the Year suffered a torn ACL in his right knee in Week 10 last season and opened training camp on the active PUP list. Earlier in the offseason, though, Young appeared on track for an early return.
"I'm running,” Young said in June, per Sam Fortier and Nicki Jhabvala of the Washington Post. "I've squatted some substantial amount of weight. I ain't gonna put no numbers out there, but everything is going as planned."
The earliest Washington will see Young now will be Week 5 against Tennessee.