When March rolls around, NFL enthusiasts enjoy the initial wave of the free-agency frenzy. Now with only one round of roster cuts before the regular season, front offices will monitor a second wave in September.
Every team must downsize its roster to a headcount of 53 by Saturday, cutting players who may find a home elsewhere. Because of subpar productivity, poor roster fit, bloated contracts or competitive position battles, serviceable veterans will hit the market in the coming weeks.
One general manager's castoff could become another executive's shrewd acquisition. We'll highlight eight of the biggest names who may need to look for a new team and project their landing spots.
Who's on the way out and why? What's the most ideal spot for each veteran potentially on the move?
Projected Notable Cuts with New Teams
RB Carlos Hyde, Kansas City Chiefs / Houston Texans
WR Demaryius Thomas, New England Patriots / Seattle Seahawks
WR Laquon Treadwell, Minnesota Vikings / New York Giants
LT Julien Davenport, Houston Texans / Washington Redskins
DE DeMarcus Walker, Denver Broncos/ Tampa Bay Buccaneers
LB Shane Ray, Baltimore Ravens / Houston Texans
CB Ken Crawley, New Orleans Saints / New York Jets
CB Teez Tabor, Detroit Lions / Kansas City Chiefs
WR Demaryius Thomas Signs with the Seattle Seahawks
The New England Patriots activated wideout Demaryius Thomas off the physically unable to perform list August 20, but he didn't suit up for Week 3 of the preseason as he finds his way back from a torn Achilles.
The 31-year-old suffered the injury in December, which explains why he's just coming off PUP. At this stage, he may fall into the too little, too late category in New England.
The Patriots have witnessed rookie undrafted free agent wideout Jakobi Meyers' emergence. He's registered 19 catches for 225 receiving yards and two touchdowns through three preseason games.
Julian Edelman is a roster lock, the league has reinstated Josh Gordon and don't forget the Patriots front office selected N'Keal Harry in the first round of this year's draft. If the team retains Phillip Dorsett, who put together a solid performance against the Carolina Panthers in his last outing with seven catches for 47 yards, Thomas will likely miss the cut.
Thomas could resurface with a team in desperate need of help at wide receiver if he's healthy enough to take the field. The nine-year veteran would serve as a solid possession target at his next destination.
The Seattle Seahawks don't have much starting experience at wide receiver. David Moore won't land on injured reserve with a hairline fracture in his humerus, per NFL Network's Ian Rapoport, but he'll miss regular-season action:
Ian Rapoport @RapSheet
#Seahawks promising WR David Moore, who has a hairline fracture in his humerus, received his second opinion and is not slated to be placed on Injured Reserve, sources say. Surprisingly positive news. He’ll miss the start of the season, but should be back sooner rather than later.
With Moore possibly out for a stretch and DK Metcalf recovering from a minor knee surgery, the Seahawks could use able bodies ready to contribute right away.
LB Shane Ray Signs with the Houston Texans
Linebacker Shane Ray went into Week 3 of the preseason on the roster bubble, but he didn't make an impact on the field. In exhibition play, the four-year veteran hasn't shown much, logging one tackle and a half-sack in three outings.
The Baltimore Ravens have a crowded group at the edge position.
Matt Judon will start. Following Terrell Suggs' departure to Arizona, the Ravens expect Tim Williams and Tyus Bowser, a pair of 2017 Day 2 draft picks, to fill a pass-rushing void. The front office selected Jaylon Ferguson in the third round of April's draft. Pernell McPhee's contributions as situational edge-rusher should help him make the cut, leaving Ray as the odd man out.
According to longtime Houston Chronicle beat reporter John McClain, Jadeveon Clowney's return would be a "surprise" with a strong need at left tackle, indicating a possible trade in the works:
Charles Robinson of Yahoo Sports estimates Clowney could demand an approximate five-year, $110 million extension, which may exceed the Texans' financial threshold for a player with solid but not extraordinary production—29 sacks in 62 games.
If the Texans trade Clowney or he continues to hold out into the regular season, the defense would need a pass-rusher to complement J.J. Watt in the front seven. At linebacker, Whitney Mercilus has recorded five sacks over the last two years.
Ray doesn't compare to Clowney, but the Texans should take a flier on him and hope the 26-year-old looks similar to his 2016 form when he logged eight sacks.
CB Ken Crawley Signs with the New York Jets
After the New Orleans Saints acquired cornerback Eli Apple in a trade with the New York Giants, Ken Crawley lost his starting spot on the perimeter and saw his snap count drop dramatically in the second half of the 2018 campaign. He played 61 defensive snaps after Week 7.
The Saints declined to exercise Apple's fifth-year option, but he had a solid finish to the 2018 season in New Orleans, registering 42 solo tackles, nine pass breakups and two interceptions in 10 contests.
Marshon Lattimore will start on the perimeter. Patrick Robinson, P.J. Williams and C.J. Gardner-Johnson may all take snaps in the slot. Crawley has experience primarily on the outside, but based on his rapid decline in playing time last year, he'll probably hit the free-agent market this week.
The New York Jets didn't re-sign cornerback Morris Claiborne, who started 30 games on their boundary since 2017. The league suspended him for violating the performance-enhancing drug policy, and he signed a one-year deal with the Kansas City Chiefs.
Right now, the secondary has a gaping hole opposite Trumaine Johnson on the perimeter, and he's out indefinitely with a hamstring ailment. When considering his notable injury and the need for starting talent at the position, general manager Joe Douglas should have his eyes on cornerbacks set to hit the free-agent market after final cuts.
Crawley had a strong 2017 campaign with the Saints, recording 17 pass breakups and an interception in 13 starts. He's a possible Band-Aid at cornerback for the Jets if he's released on or before August 31.