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NFL Cuts 2019: Predictions for Veterans in Danger of Being Released

Kristopher Knox@@kris_knoxFeatured ColumnistAugust 26, 2019

Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Laquon Treadwell (11) gets set for a play during the second half of an NFL preseason football game against the Arizona Cardinals, Saturday, Aug. 24, 2019, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)
Jim Mone/Associated Press

A lot of NFL players will be looking for work by the end of this week. Teams have to be down to 53 players by 4 p.m. on August 31, which means many quality players—and many veterans—will land on the cut pile.

It's not really surprising to see veterans released on cutdown day. While they are proven at the pro level, teams have to make room for rookies and up-and-coming players somehow. This often means that an established player, sometimes a notable one, has to meet the chopping block.

With cutdown day looming, here's a look at some of the top veterans on the roster bubble and what may transpire in the coming weeks.

    

Laquon Treadwell, WR, Minnesota Vikings

Former Mississippi wide receiver Laquon Treadwell was taken by the Minnesota Vikings 23rd overall in the 2016 draft. To say he hasn't lived up to his draft status would be an understatement.

Through three seasons, Treadwell has produced just 517 yards and a touchdown on 56 receptions. He was a serviceable third receiver in 2018, but that's not what you're hoping to get out of a first-round draft pick.

Now, Treadwell isn't even slated to be Minnesota's third receiver. He's listed behind Adam Thielen and Chad Beebe at one receiver slot on Minnesota's depth chart. Stefon Diggs and Jordan Taylor are on top at the other receiver spot.

This means Treadwell will likely be the fourth or fifth receiver if he does make the team. However, the Vikings haven't been shy about their willingness to trade him. They're using the preseason to try to build a little value.

"We're trying to get Treadwell the ball a little bit more in the second half," head coach Mike Zimmer said after the second preseason game, per AP writer Brian Hall. "Try to showcase him a little bit, I guess. He made some nice plays."

Treadwell had five catches for 59 yards over the first two weeks of the preseason. He didn't have a catch in Week 3. While there probably is a team out there willing to take a chance on the former first-rounder, no one is likely to do so via trade.

There just isn't any sense in trading for a player who can eventually be had off the waiver wire.

Prediction: Treadwell is released during final roster cuts.

          

Duke Dawson, CB, New England Patriots

Charles Krupa/Associated Press

While Treadwell has been a disappointment on game days, New England Patriots cornerback Duke Dawson hasn't even been that. The Patriots used a second-round pick on the Florida product in last year's draft, but he never made an appearance in the regular-season game. 

According to Zack Cox of NESN.com, Dawson could now be in danger of being cut.

"Bill Belichick never has cut a player one year after drafting him in the first or second round, but Dawson (No. 56 overall in 2018) is in danger of becoming the first," Cox wrote last week. "He's allowed three completions of 20-plus yards and committed three penalties over two preseason games and hasn't looked much better in practice."

It doesn't help that the Patriots are loaded with cornerback talent. With guys like Stephon Gilmore, Jason McCourty, Jonathan Jones and J.C. Jackson on the roster, Dawson isn't likely to see much playing time in 2019. However, as Cox pointed out, Belichick has not made a habit of dumping players a year after drafting them highly.

It's more likely that Dawson gets one more season to prove he has some value in New England—though a trip to the practice squad after the start of the season is entirely possible.

Prediction: Dawson makes the 53-man roster.

     

C.J. Beathard, QB, San Francisco 49ers

Two years ago, the San Francisco 49ers used a third-round pick on former Iowa quarterback C.J. Beathard. At the time, it appeared that Beathard could be a developmental player and eventual starter for the 49ers. 

Later in 2017, though, San Francisco traded for Jimmy Garoppolo. This meant that Beathard would still get a chance to develop, but becoming an eventual franchise signal-caller for the franchise was unlikely.

Beathard started five games in 2017 and five more last season after Garoppolo went down with a torn ACL. However, it was former undrafted free agent Nick Mullens who emerged as the superior starting option, and it's Mullens who looks poised to be Garoppolo's backup this year.

For now, head coach Kyle Shanahan is being patient with his decision at the No. 2 quarterback spot:

Matt Maiocco @MaioccoNBCS

Kyle Shanahan says of Nick Mullens and C.J. Beathard: "I believe in both of those guys.” He said he will not decide on the backup until it gets to the point where a decision is necessary — at the cut to the 53-man roster.

However, Beathard will likely be out if the 49ers only keep two quarterbacks. Trading him could be an option, though his value isn't high after a decidedly average preseason thus far—Beathard has gone 18-of-28 for 222 yards with a touchdown and an interception.

Beathard does have starting experience, and that's worth something. However, teams won't want to deal for a player likely to end up a free agent in a week.

Prediction: Beathard is released during final roster cuts.

      

Greg Joseph, K, Cleveland Browns

Gary Landers/Associated Press

The Cleveland Browns don't have many unsettled positions on their roster, but they have a big one at kicker. While this is a position that goes woefully overlooked, it is and should be an important one to Browns fans.

Cleveland almost certainly would have won in Weeks 1 and 2 last season if not for missed kicks. Of course, winning those games may have led to Hue Jackson sticking around as head coach for all of 2018.

Greg Joseph was brought in as Cleveland's new kicker in Week 3, and he did an admirable, if unimpressive, job for the remainder of the season. He hit some big kicks—like the overtime game-winner against the Baltimore Ravens—but he also missed three field-goal attempts and four extra points.

Joseph is now locked in a battle with rookie fifth-round pick Austin Seibert. While neither player has emerged as a clear front-runner, Seibert's 4-for-4 performance against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the third preseason game may have put him ahead.

"That's pretty good, huh?" head coach Freddie Kitchens said of Seibert's performance, per Dan Labbe of Cleveland.com. "I like that. I like it a lot, that's what he's supposed to do."

The competition isn't over yet, but Joseph has already missed a field-goal attempt and a point-after try this preseason. If Cleveland can move on from him, it will.

Prediction: Joseph is released during final roster cuts.