NFL Waiver Wire 2019: Projecting Preseason Cuts Who Will Land with New Teams

Adam Wells@adamwells1985Featured ColumnistAugust 23, 2019

Houston Texans wide receiver Demaryius Thomas (87) is introduced before an NFL football game against the Indianapolis Colts Sunday, Dec. 9, 2018, in Houston. (AP Photo/Eric Christian Smith)
Eric Christian Smith/Associated Press

While most of the NFL world loves the preseason because it builds anticipation for the start of the real games, it's also a nerve-wracking period for players fighting to make a team's roster. 

Right now, clubs are permitted to carry 90 players for the preseason. They have to get that number down to 53 by 4 p.m. ET on Aug. 31. 

Getting cut doesn't necessarily spell doom for a player because teams are always making tweaks to their roster and injuries happen all the time. There are also spots on the practice squad that keep them around a club in the event they are needed on the main roster. 

Looking ahead to potential roster decisions that will be made next week, here are the most likely names to find a new home if they become available. 


Adrian Colbert, Safety (San Francisco 49ers)

As a seventh-round draft pick in 2017, Adrian Colbert was facing an uphill climb to make the San Francisco 49ers. The University of Miami alum wound up being a key member of the secondary during his rookie season in 14 games played. 


Our top graded rookie safeties this year https://t.co/6UsneKvD9n

Things took a steep downturn for Colbert last season thanks to a combination of injuries and poor performance.

The 25-year-old was limited to seven games and continued to struggle in pass protection:

PFF SF 49ers @PFF_49ers

Training Camp Preview: Safety Battle Career Passer Rating Against: Jaquiski Tartt: 102.6 Adrian Colbert: 158.3 D.J. Reed Jr. 137.6 Tarvarius Moore (at CB): 123.7 Antone Exum Jr.: 125.0 Marcell Harris: 127.8

The 49ers are desperate for a boost on defense, especially in the secondary. Their two interceptions last season were the fewest by an NFL team dating back to 1940. 

Even with additions like Dee Ford and Nick Bosa to the defensive line, San Francisco's pass defense has to prove it can cover opposing receivers.

Colbert is in a difficult spot competing with Jimmie Ward, Jaquiski Tartt, Tarvarius Moore, Marcell Harris and Antone Exum Jr. for a spot on the 53-man roster. He left Monday's preseason win over the Denver Broncos with a hamstring injury, which will also limit his reps in these late-preseason practices. 

Chris Biderman of the Sacramento Bee projected Colbert as one of the 49ers' cuts in his most recent roster update. 

Certainly, recent history isn't on Colbert's side, and his draft position two years ago won't have teams lining up to give him a shot. 

It was just one year ago Michael Renner of Pro Football Focus said the 49ers had "their own makings of the original Legion of Boom" thanks to young talent like Colbert and Tartt. 

Age is something that absolutely works in Colbert's favor because it's easier to bet on a 25-year-old who has just 21 games under his belt than any over-30 player who has fallen off from their peak performance. 


Tanner Hudson, TE (Tampa Bay Buccaneers)

One of the surprise performers so far this preseason is Tampa Bay Buccaneers tight end Tanner Hudson. The Tennessee native led all NFL players with 13 receptions, 177 yards and two touchdowns through two preseason games. 

Hudson started his college career as a quarterback at Memphis in 2013 before transitioning to tight end when he transferred to Southern Arkansas. 

Coming out of a small school in 2018 didn't help Hudson's profile. The 24-year-old signed with the Bucs as an undrafted free agent and didn't appear in a game last season. 

Despite Hudson's impressive preseason performance, Bucs head coach Bruce Arians has been quick to point out ways he needs to get better:

Greg Auman @gregauman

Arians still hesitant to give much praise to Tanner Hudson: "He's coming up with catches. He hurts himself when he gets beat on third-and-1 and we don't get the first down. If he can learn to block, he could be an asset, because he can really run and catch."

Another problem for Hudson, as Eduardo A. Encina of the Tampa Bay Times noted, is the Buccaneers have depth at tight end with O.J. Howard, Cameron Brate and pass-blocking specialist Antony Auclair. 

It also may not help Hudson's case that he was signed when Dirk Koetter was Tampa Bay's head coach. Arians is taking over a team trying to establish a clean slate and wants to rebuild the roster so it fits his vision. 

Based on Hudson's receiving skills and 6'5" frame, it shouldn't be difficult for him to attract the attention of clubs in need of help at tight end.

A team like the Buffalo Bills, who need to put more talent around second-year quarterback Josh Allen, could make for a logical fit if he's cut. Tyler Kroft is still out of action with a broken foot suffered in May. Jason Croom has been limited in preseason due to a hamstring injury.


Demaryius Thomas, WR (New England Patriots)

It's not a surprise to see Demaryius Thomas fighting to make the New England Patriots' roster. Head coach Bill Belichick has a history of signing veteran players over the age of 30 to see if they can bring anything to the table only to cut ties with them. 

Pro Football Talk's Mike Florio wrote this in June about Thomas' tenuous spot with the Patriots:

"From the moment the former Broncos receiver signed with the Patriots, where former Broncos coach Josh McDaniels serves as the offensive coordinator, speculation has lingered that Thomas could go the way of other older players who for whatever reason didn't mesh with the Patriot Way."

Of course, Thomas' biggest issue is still working his way back from a torn Achilles he suffered last December.

There was good news in that regard earlier this week:

Mike Reiss @MikeReiss

WR Demaryius Thomas, who took the practice field today in a jersey and helmet, has been activated from the PUP list. It's another step in his recovery from an Achilles tear in December.

This is notable because it allows Thomas the opportunity to appear in New England's last two preseason games if he's physically ready to handle it. 

Wide receiver isn't an area of strength for the Patriots, but Josh Gordon's reinstatement leaves one less roster spot available. Julian Edelman is guaranteed to start. That leaves Thomas in competition with Phillip Dorsett, Braxton Berrios, Jakobi Meyers and N'Keal Harry. 

Thomas' familiarity with McDaniels' system could work in his favor. He also put up solid numbers with the Denver Broncos and Houston Texans in 2018 with 677 yards and five touchdowns on 59 receptions. 

If Thomas finishes the preseason healthy and the Patriots still decide to move on, it shouldn't be hard for him to find a new home. Even at 31, the four-time Pro Bowler can be effective in a limited role and in red-zone situations thanks to his 6'3" frame. 


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