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NFL Cuts 2019: Predicting Notable Roster Releases Before Regular Season Begins

Jake RillAnalyst IAugust 19, 2019

Buffalo Bills running back LeSean McCoy (25) celebrates his touchdown against the Carolina Panthers during the first half an NFL preseason football game, Friday, Aug. 16, 2019, in Charlotte, N.C. (AP Photo/Brian Blanco)
Brian Blanco/Associated Press

With only 53 spots on regular-season rosters for NFL teams, it's inevitable that the end of preseason will bring cuts. And some of them could be surprising.

Remember last year when kicker Dan Bailey, wide receiver Martavis Bryant and cornerback David Amerson were among the players cut at the end of the preseason? It's not always lesser-known players who feel the effects of a roster crunch. There are sometimes bigger names in those end-of-preseason transactions, too.

This year likely won't be different. While many of the players who get cut will be undrafted rookies or ones with little-to-no NFL experience, a surprising veteran or two could be dropped into free agency.

Here's a look at four well-known players who could be released before the start of the regular season. 

        

LeSean McCoy, RB, Buffalo Bills

The Bills' running-back picture is a bit crowded, and that could lead to the potential release of McCoy, who is entering his 11th season.

The 31-year-old averaged a career-low 3.2 yards per carry last season in 14 games, while also rushing for a career-low 514 yards and scoring only three touchdowns. Plus, Buffalo now has another veteran running back in Frank Gore, who signed a one-year deal in March.

If the Bills decide to primarily utilize Gore and rookie Devin Singletary, that could make McCoy expendable. Perhaps that could lead to McCoy getting traded or even cut if there isn't much interest from other teams.

McCoy had four carries for six yards and a touchdown in Buffalo's second preseason game against Carolina, his first action this preseason. It's possible he could be playing for a roster spot in the Bills' next preseason contest.

     

Torrey Smith, WR, Carolina Panthers

Bill Feig/Associated Press

Smith's numbers continued to decline last season, while the Panthers went out and added depth to their receiving corps this offseason by signing Chris Hogan and drafting Terry Godwin. That combination could lead to Smith's release later this preseason.

After playing in all 16 games in six of his first seven seasons, Smith played a career-low 11 games in 2018, totaling only 17 receptions for 190 yards and two touchdowns. Based on that, it appears Smith's best years may be behind him.

Smith also had a knee injury at the beginning of camp, which got him off to a slow start. He made his preseason debut last week, but he didn't have a reception.

The Panthers may just not need Smith this season, which could lead to the two sides parting ways before the end of the preseason.

      

Laquon Treadwell, WR, Minnesota Vikings

Bill Feig/Associated Press

The Vikings' top two receivers are Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen, and many of Kirk Cousins' targets will go their way this season. That means Laquon Treadwell likely wouldn't be too involved in the offense.

Also, Treadwell has struggled since Minnesota selected him in the first round of the 2016 draft. Over the past three seasons, he has 56 receptions for 517 yards and one touchdown in 40 games.

Last year was Treadwell's best season, as he had 302 yards and his first career touchdown in 15 games. But that type of limited production may not be enough for the Vikings to keep him this season.

It's tough for teams to cut players that they used a first-round pick on, especially only a few years after that draft. However, this may be a situation where it could happen this preseason.

      

Josh Norman, CB, Washington Redskins

Steve Helber/Associated Press

It's more likely Norman will be one of Washington's starting cornerbacks for its season opener at Philadelphia. But it's possible the Redskins could decide to go in a different direction.

Norman is 31 and a $14.3 million cap hit this year. He hasn't quite lived up to expectations since signing a five-year, $75 million contract with Washington prior to the 2016 season. While he had three interceptions last year, he had none in 14 games in 2017.

The Redskins are already in a period of transition. It's possible that Pro Bowl offensive tackle Trent Williams has played his final game for the team as he continues to hold out. Rookie quarterback Dwayne Haskins likely won't be the starter at the beginning of the season as he could need time to develop.

Why not go all-in on a rebuild and cut Norman? It wouldn't be the first surprising release by Washington in the past year. The Redskins cut safety D.J. Swearinger late last season and released linebacker Mason Foster earlier this summer.