NFL Veterans Who Could Still Be Cut This Offseason
The intermission between June's mandatory minicamps and training camp at the end of July allows front offices time to evaluate the roster while new additions make initial impressions on the coaching staff. Sometimes, the reassessment prompts changes before the players reconvene for the summer.
Teams may also consider early cuts to create room for prominent free agents such as wide receiver Dez Bryant, cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie or guard Richie Incognito. For the most part, an inactive or slow start to the offseason program leads to veteran cuts at this juncture.
At times, the odd man out becomes evident before padded practices. It's too early for final decisions on players who are sitting on the roster bubble, but a handful of veterans could find themselves without a team soon.
RB Mike Gillislee, New England Patriots
Last offseason, the New England Patriots offered then-restricted free agent running back Mike Gillislee a two-year, $6.4 million deal that the Buffalo Bills didn't match, which paved his way to the division rival.
After two solid outings in which he accumulated 33 carries for 114 yards and four touchdowns, Gillislee faded. After Week 2, he didn't log more than 12 rushing attempts in a game, only eclipsed 50 yards on the ground once and didn't score another touchdown until he suited up against the Bills in Week 16 after a string of healthy scratches. The team also listed him inactive for Super Bowl LII.
During the offseason, New England signed running back Jeremy Hill and drafted tailback Sony Michel in the first round. According to Andy Hart of the team's official website, Gillislee struggled early in OTAs.
"His first day of the new year in front of the media didn't look great," he wrote. "He struggled in bag drills and drew the ire of veteran coach Ivan Fears. Based on his production last season and the competition at the position, Gillislee could be in a battle for his roster life."
Obviously, training camp carries more weight on roster decisions than workouts in shorts. Nonetheless, Gillislee finds himself at a crowded position, which narrows his chances at redeeming a subpar season and a slow second-year start in New England.
RB C.J. Prosise, Seattle Seahawks
A fractured scapula and an ankle injury have severely limited running back C.J. Prosise's availability over the past two seasons. He suited up for 11 games in that span.
According to the Seattle Times' Bob Condotta, Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll praised Prosise's effort during workouts but also acknowledged his precarious spot on the roster. "C.J. has really jumped out, too. He's looked good now. He knows he's battling [for a roster spot]."
Nonetheless, when discussing standouts, Carroll started with running back Chris Carson, who flashed before suffering an ankle injury during the previous season. "He hasn't missed one snap of anything. He's just looked so fit and just so cut and quick and explosive and all of that. He's the guy that just stood out in that regard."
The Seahawks also drafted running back Rashaad Penny in the first round, which puts Prosise in a similar situation to Gillislee's. There's competition, which includes a first-rounder who's virtually locked in for a roster spot and a portion of the workload.
If running back Mike Davis outperforms Prosise early in training camp or the third-year ball-carrier suffers an injury, the Seahawks may cut ties with him.
WR Rashad Greene, Jacksonville Jaguars
The Jacksonville Jaguars boast a wide receiver corps full of developing assets but no clear-cut No. 1.
The front office re-signed wideout Marqise Lee (four years, $34 million), who's expected to progress as a starter. The Jaguars also signed Donte Moncrief to a one-year, $5.6 million deal and drafted LSU product D.J. Chark in the second round.
Don't forget the expected holdovers. Jacksonville's leading receiver in yards from the previous campaign, Keelan Cole, prepares for his second year after emerging as a surprise undrafted free-agent contributor. As a fourth-round pick, Dede Westbrook put together solid performances after coming off injured reserve in November following a core injury.
Where does Rashad Greene fit in the wide receiver mix? Between the 2015 and 2016 seasons, he's only caught 24 passes for 125 yards and two touchdowns. He then spent 2017 on injured reserve with an Achilles injury. Jaydon Mickens took over as the primary punt returner. In Weeks 9 and 14, he received Special Teams Player of the Week honors.
In a league that often focuses on what a player has done lately, Mickens' upside as a returner could encourage the Jaguars to cut the cord on Greene's time in Jacksonville.
WR Devin Smith, New York Jets
Devin Smith, a 2015 second-rounder, suffered his second ACL tear last offseason. Nonetheless, the New York Jets wide receiver corps has improved thanks to unheralded talents rising through the ranks. Quincy Enunwa, a 2014 sixth-round pick, and Robby Anderson, who earned a roster spot as an undrafted free agent two years ago, have exceeded expectations.
In 2017, Gang Green acquired Jermaine Kearse in a trade with the Seattle Seahawks, and he logged career-highs in catches (65) and yards (810).
New York has a solid trio at wide receiver. In addition, according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport, the team expects Terrelle Pryor to take the practice field during training camp after he underwent a minor foot procedure.
Furthermore, Smith's slow start to this year's offseason program deals a bigger blow to his chance at holding a roster spot through the summer.
ESPN.com's Rich Cimini doesn't see him on the 53-man depth chart in September: "Devin Smith is attempting to rebound from his second ACL surgery, and there are at least six wide receivers ahead of him on the depth chart (and that's a conservative guess). The other day, [head coach Todd] Bowles confirmed the obvious, saying Smith will sit out the remainder of the spring, which has only two weeks of practice left."
If any of the younger receivers, ArDarius Stewart, Chad Hansen or Charone Peake, turn heads during training camp, the Jets will likely consider letting go of the 26-year-old.
DL Ziggy Hood, Washington Redskins
As the league shifts toward combating prolific passing offenses with athletic defenders, there's a lesser need for space-eating 300-pound interior linemen who can't rush the passer.
The Washington Redskins selected two interior defenders, Da'Ron Payne and Tim Settle, in Rounds 1 and 5, respectively, in the most recent draft. Last year, Anthony Lanier and Matt Ioannidis flashed the ability to pressure the pocket and finished the season with a combined 9.5 sacks.
Ziggy Hood has started 27 games over the past two years, but his days as a starter are likely over. Payne will probably take a prominent role, Jonathan Allen returns to action after surgery to correct a Lisfranc injury, Stacy McGee is three years younger than the 31-year-old and other developing talents have shown progress on the interior.
Hood could stick as a rotational defender across the front, but it shouldn't come as a surprise if Washington releases the nine-year veteran.
S Kam Chancellor, Seattle Seahawks
Seattle Seahawks safety Kam Chancellor hits the veteran cut radar under a different circumstance. Unlike the other five players here, his performance isn't in question.
The four-time Pro Bowler would make the roster at even 60 percent of his best. However, a neck injury suffered in November last year could end his career. According to general manager John Schneider, Chancellor will have a neck scan in late June.
Good news from the medical checks would provide a boost to a secondary that lost cornerback Richard Sherman to the San Francisco 49ers and features a holdout in safety Earl Thomas. The other side of the coin would add uncertainty to a defense in transition.