2019 NFL Roster Bubble: Biggest Names Who Could Be Cut
At this point, nothing would surprise NFL fans—even when it comes to the roster bubble.
This NFL offseason has given the NBA a run for its money in the drama department. The Odell Beckham Jr. trade, Antonio Brown's latest drama (his feet or helmet—dealer's choice) and plenty more have desensitized onlookers to shock. The roster bubble has been active too; the Detroit Lions cut Theo Riddick, and the Cleveland Browns traded Duke Johnson, to name a few examples.
When cuts start to roll in and bubble players start receiving walking papers, it shouldn't be surprising to see massive names released. This applies to veterans and busts, with numerous valid reasons for the moves, financial or otherwise.
These are the biggest names who could be cut in the coming weeks.
LeSean McCoy, RB, Buffalo Bills
LeSean McCoy is bound to be a staple on lists like this.
McCoy, after all, is 31 with a cap hit north of $9 million in 2019. The Buffalo Bills added Frank Gore in free agency, so there seems to only be room for one 30-plus back to work within the base offense. They also drafted Devin Singletary in the third round.
But it goes deeper than that. McCoy averaged a career-low 3.2 yards per carry last season, getting just 514 yards and three scores. Plenty of blame can fall on outside factors, like the offensive line in front of him, but McCoy appeared to be showing his age.
Maybe the Bills don't see a reason to cut a veteran like McCoy, but based on performance and financials, he's a candidate.
Laquon Treadwell, WR, Minnesota Vikings
Laquon Treadwell classifies as a big name, though perhaps for the wrong reasons.
The Minnesota Vikings made Treadwell the 23rd pick in the 2016 draft, and he's caught 56 passes for 517 yards and one score in three seasons, averaging a paltry 9.2 yards per catch. He had problems staying on the field as a rookie (nine games) and has issues creating separation. Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen easily rank higher in the pecking order when Kirk Cousins drops back.
Now, Treadwell might be lucky if he's even the third guy Cousins looks at. According to The MMQB's Albert Breer, the Vikings are open to moving him.
Of course, that's a big sign to any team that might have interest in Treadwell that it won't have to cough up assets to acquire him, as he's a likely candidate to be released.
Sean Lee, LB, Dallas Cowboys
A 33-year-old linebacker who has problems staying on the field is bound to pop up as a cut candidate.
That's true even for as big a name as the Dallas Cowboys' Sean Lee, who only made it through seven games last year and as of late July was already battling an injury. It doesn't sound serious, but Lee has played in 11 games or fewer in four of his last six seasons, and Father Time isn't on his side.
The Cowboys tried to get out in front of this by restructuring Lee's contract in March. But at some point, the "leader" tag only goes so far, and it is costly both in a financial sense and in keeping up-and-coming talent from making the final roster.
Maybe Lee's latest issue indeed has a quick turnaround, but the fact that it's even happening makes him a name to watch as cut days approach.
A.J. Bouye, CB, Jacksonville Jaguars
The Jacksonville Jaguars are paying A.J. Bouye to be a top-flight corner.
Bouye got a $67.5 million contract from the Jaguars in 2017 and picked off six passes that season.
But in 2018, Bouye missed three games, picked off just one pass and allowed 41 catches on 61 targets with an overall grade of 75.7 at Pro Football Focus. For a cap hit of more than $15 million in 2018, one could argue that wasn't good enough.
Keep in mind the greater context too. The Jaguars only have about $16 million in cap space and need to work out an extension with Jalen Ramsey, who is better than Bouye and three years younger.
Josh Norman, CB, Washington Redskins
Josh Norman's situation contains a volatile mix of age (31), money ($14.3 million cap hit in 2019) and a team perhaps ready to blow it all up (Washington Redskins).
Norman isn't necessarily over the hill, to use a cliche, but he had a sub-70.0 grade at PFF last year while getting targeted 73 times. That speaks to how comfortable teams were throwing his way as opposed to in his elite days in Carolina.
Remember, Washington doesn't hesitate to cut players, like it did last year with D.J. Swearinger after he spoke out. It is also starting over at quarterback and has the Trent Williams holdout to deal with, so there is always a chance the team punches the reset button.
Delanie Walker, TE, Tennessee Titans
Delanie Walker inked a $17 million contract extension with the Tennessee Titans in 2018 and proceeded to miss 15 games with a broken ankle.
That wouldn't have such a big impact on his outlook if he wasn't 35 years old. He had to watch as younger guys like Jonnu Smith (2017 third-round pick) and MyCole Pruitt (2015 fifth-rounder) showed signs of emerging, even with the passing game grounded while Marcus Mariota struggled again.
The Titans could opt to go with a youth movement. Those younger tight ends, a stable of running backs, wide receiver Corey Davis, free-agent arrival Adam Humphries and rookie A.J. Brown could make up the core around Mariota. Walker looks like he may be expendable on cut day.
Richie Incognito, OL, Oakland Raiders
The Oakland Raiders turned some heads when they added Richie Incognito to a mix already featuring personalities like Antonio Brown and Vontaze Burfict, seemingly completing the thirst for Hard Knocks entertainment.
Incognito could help the offensive line, but he's starting the season suspended for the first two games as it is. Money isn't a factor with a cap hit under $600,000, but he's also 36 years old and hasn't played a regular-season snap since 2017.
Those familiar with the Raiders don't expect his stint with the first team to last long. As reporter Michael Gehlken wrote: "Raiders C/G Jordan Devey working at first-team right guard. Richie Incognito still seeing reps at first-team LG, but that should change soon enough. Jonathan Cooper will be elevated to prepare for Incognito's two-game suspension."
Given the issues that surround Incognito, if he isn't winning a starting job outright, the Raiders could easily shore up guard depth once other teams start cutting players. Jonathan Cooper or another name getting reps to finish out the preseason could end up outperforming him, making it easier to cut ties.
Karl Joseph, S, Oakland Raiders
Safety Karl Joseph has seemingly been on the hot seat since Jon Gruden returned to the Oakland Raiders in 2018.
Joseph, a top-15 pick in 2016, watched as the Raiders added Lamarcus Joyner and then spent one of their first-round picks on Johnathan Abram.
That could leave Joseph out in the cold as far as starting, and Oakland has declined his fifth-year option for 2020.
While Joseph hasn't been bad for the Raiders, he's also dealt with nagging injuries (eight missed games over three seasons) and hasn't met expectations that came with his draft slot. If he loses the box-safety battle with Abram, the staff might decide to end his Oakland tenure early.
Contract details courtesy of Spotrac.