NFL Cuts 2019: Release Predictions for Some of League's Toughest Decisions

Maurice Moton@@MoeMotonFeatured ColumnistAugust 23, 2019

Kansas City Chiefs running back Carlos Hyde runs during NFL football training camp Monday, July 29, 2019, in St. Joseph, Mo. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
Charlie Riedel/Associated Press

While some debate the importance of preseason, players battling for roster spots have a different outlook. They have a chance to showcase their talent to secure a job. For every surprise performer who inches toward a slot on the depth chart, a veteran moves closer to the cut line.

Although head coaches won't publicly say this, they're not expecting a sixth-round pick to outplay a veteran, but most players have to earn their spots on the regular-season roster, which creates open competition and opportunity.

At times, veteran experience holds more value than raw talent for teams with playoff or Super Bowl aspirations. 

However, a long-tenured player on a costly deal with a comparable season outlook to an upstart talent may lose out because of his financial standing. Teams will cut pricey contracts and elevate low-cost assets on the depth chart. In certain situations, younger talents simply outplay veteran competition for roster spots.

We'll project three names who may go down as the toughest cuts because of their draft pedigree or the stiff competition at a specific position on the depth chart.


RB Carlos Hyde, Kansas City Chiefs 

Charlie Riedel/Associated Press

The Kansas City Chiefs signed running back Carlos Hyde to a one-year deal in March. Initially, he seemed primed to handle a decent workload behind unproven starter Damien Williams, but rookie sixth-rounder Darwin Thompson has impressed the coaching staff. He took first-team reps recently, per The Athletic's Nate Taylor.

"Rookie running back Darwin Thompson appears to have leaped over veteran Carlos Hyde on the depth chart," Taylor wrote. "Thompson split most of the first-team offense repetitions with Damien Williams, the projected starter." 

Through two preseason games, Thompson has logged nine carries for 52 yards and scored on a 29-yard touchdown reception. Hyde has recorded seven rush attempts for 25 yards and a trip to paydirt. Regardless of the statistics, the veteran isn't in a good spot behind a late-round rookie.

The Chiefs can cut Hyde and split the rushing workload between Williams and Thompson. The five-year veteran has been an underwhelming performer since coming out of Ohio State into the league as a 2014 second-rounder for the San Francisco 49ers. If Kansas City releases him, he'll look for employment with a fourth team.


DT Eddie Vanderdoes, Oakland Raiders

Rick Scuteri/Associated Press

Surprisingly, the Oakland Raiders haven't released defensive tackle Eddie Vanderdoes. He's a 2017 third-rounder who hasn't played a single game under head coach Jon Gruden's regime.

Last year, Gruden didn't waste any time waiving safety Obi Melifonwu, a 2017 second-rounder, who couldn't stay healthy enough to practice during training camp. Vanderdoes has the same issue this offseason. He suffered a concussion early in July, and the Raiders haven't seen him on the field since the injury.

Before the concussion, Vanderdoes had to recover from a torn ACL, which cost him the entire 2018 campaign. That marked the second time he suffered a significant knee injury in three years. He also sat out his junior term at UCLA with the same ailment. 

Without Vanderdoes on the field, defensive tackles Maurice Hurst and Johnathan Hankins took advantage of their opportunities. As a rookie, the former led the Raiders in sacks (four), and the latter earned a new two-year deal. 

Oakland will count on defensive tackle P.J. Hall, a 2018 second-rounder, to elevate his play on the interior. If he makes the 53-man roster, Justin Ellis will have a solid role after missing 10 games with sprained ligaments in his foot last year. Ethan Westbrooks and undrafted rookie Anthony Rush have also looked impressive during exhibition play. 

At a position of depth, Vanderdoes doesn't have a pathway to a roster spot. The Raiders will likely cut another early draft pick from just two years ago.


CB Teez Tabor, Detroit Lions

Paul Sancya/Associated Press

Teez Tabor's time with the Detroit Lions will likely come to an end because of inconsistencies early in the team's offseason training program and a right leg injury that's kept him on the sidelines since August 1, per Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press.

"Tabor disappeared from an Aug. 1 practice when he tweaked something in his right leg and hasn't practiced since, once again leaving in doubt his future with the team that made him a second-round pick in 2017, No. 53 overall," Birkett wrote. 

Keep in mind; Tabor hasn't recorded a pass breakup or an interception in 22 contests. He doesn't have a solid footprint in the league, and the 23-year-old has been sidelined for a major portion of a crucial offseason in terms of his long-term outlook with the club.

In addition to selecting Amani Oruwariye in the fifth round of this year's draft, the Lions signed Justin Coleman and Rashaan Melvin to bolster the cornerback group.

Coleman will take on slot duties. Melvin and Oruwariye could see significant snaps opposite Darius Slay on the boundary.

Under head coach Matt Patricia and his staff, Tabor played 27.86 percent of defensive snaps last year, per Pro Football Reference; he started four out of 12 contests but didn't show enough to solidify a starting role. Now hurt, the Florida product may have to catch on elsewhere.