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NFL Cuts 2019: Analyzing Top Big-Name Releases Who Will Find New Homes

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistAugust 29, 2019

ARLINGTON, TX - NOVEMBER 22:  Josh Doctson #19 of the Washington Redskins runs the ball during a game against the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium on November 22, 2018 in Arlington, Texas.  The Cowboys defeated the Redskins 31-23.  (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)
Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

Players on the NFL roster bubble will have one more audition Thursday as all 32 teams look ahead to Saturday's 4 p.m. ET deadline to finalize their 53-man rosters.

Kony Ealy, Roberto Aguayo, Breshad Perriman, Braxton Miller and Brian Robison were among the more notable players who hit free agency on the verge of the 2018 season.

For the most part, the most obvious candidates to be released—be it for performance or financial reasons—were already let go and likely found new homes as teams got their biggest moves out of the way.

The players below are likely to face a stressful couple of days as they await the roster deadline.

         

Laquon Treadwell, WR, Minnesota Vikings; Josh Doctson, WR, Washington Redskins

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - NOVEMBER 4: Laquon Treadwell #11 of the Minnesota Vikings runs with the ball in the second quarter of the game against the Detroit Lions at U.S. Bank Stadium on November 4, 2018 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Adam Bettcher/Getty Im
Adam Bettcher/Getty Images

Suffice it to say, the first round of the 2016 draft wasn't a great place to find value at wide receiver.

The Cleveland Browns traded Corey Coleman, the 15th overall pick, after two seasons, and he's already on his fourth team (the New York Giants) in the league. He will likely miss all of 2019 after suffering a torn ACL in July.

Now, both Laquon Treadwell and Josh Doctson are in serious jeopardy of getting cut.

Treadwell caught just one pass in his rookie year, while Doctson was limited to two games due to an Achilles injury. Their performance since then has done little to secure a firm hold on a roster spot with their respective teams.

Treadwell combined for 55 receptions for 502 yards and one touchdown in 2017 and 2018. Doctson has 79 receptions for 1,034 yards and eight touchdowns over the same span. The Minnesota Vikings declined Treadwell's fifth-year option for 2020, and the Washington Redskins did the same with Doctson.

Of the two, Treadwell is the far likelier candidate to be out of a job. He's at best the No. 4 option in the passing game behind Adam Thielen, Stefon Diggs and Kyle Rudolph, and Dalvin Cook had five more receptions in 2018 despite appearing in four fewer games.

The Vikings' pursuit of the playoffs gives them even less reason to count on Treadwell in the hope everything suddenly comes together for the 24-year-old.

The Redskins, on the other hand, are looking more toward the future. To that end, giving Doctson one more chance makes some sense.

However, the former TCU star will turn 27 in December, so he has aged out of still being feasibly considered a project. The Achilles problem that dogged Doctson in 2016 continues to be an issue too.

JP Finlay @JPFinlayNBCS

Gruden says Josh Doctson won’t play this week. Says that doesn’t impact if he is or isn’t making the 53.

It's too early to write off Treadwell or Doctson completely, but they'd probably benefit from fresh surroundings.

         

Carlos Hyde, RB, Kansas City Chiefs

KANSAS CITY, MO - AUGUST 10: Carlos Hyde #34 of the Kansas City Chiefs scores a touchdown in the first quarter as Jessie Bates III #30 of the Cincinnati Bengals pushes Hyde at Arrowhead Stadium on August 10, 2019 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by David
David Eulitt/Getty Images

The Kansas City Chiefs were seemingly a great fit for Carlos Hyde following his departure from the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Kansas City needs to find a true replacement for Kareem Hunt, and Damien Williams has never been a No. 1 option for a full season—his single-season high for carries is 50.

Based on his usage this preseason, Hyde's tenure with the Chiefs could be nearing an end already. He has two carries for 26 yards and a touchdown, getting just one touch in Kansas City's 27-17 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers last Saturday.

Adam Teicher @adamteicher

The Chiefs have used Damien Williams, Darrel Williams and Darwin Thompson at RB on their first two drives but not Carlos Hyde. If you were wondering about Hyde’s chances to make the roster, this is a clue.

Since the San Francisco 49ers selected Hyde in the second round of the 2014 draft, 33 players have registered at least 500 carries. Among that group, he's 25th in yards per carry (3.99), according to Pro Football Reference.

He will turn 29 in September, so it's doubtful some sort of breakthrough is on the horizon. The time has probably passed on him becoming a consistent every-down back as well.

Should the Chiefs part ways with Hyde, he'd make sense as a target for the Houston Texans, who need to do something to respond to Lamar Miller's torn ACL.

            

Obi Melifonwu, S, New England Patriots

Steven Senne/Associated Press

A second-round pick in the 2017 draft, Obi Melifonwu is potentially looking at his third team in as many seasons. The Oakland Raiders waived him last August, and he's now on shaky footing with the New England Patriots.

The former Connecticut star didn't make his 2017 debut until November after starting the year on injured reserve and then underwent hip surgery after five games.

Upon signing with the Patriots, Melifonwu played in only three games between the regular season and playoffs.

His stock hasn't apparently climbed much higher this preseason. The Boston Herald's Karen Guregian projected him as a Patriots roster cut, writing the 25-year-old has "been given the opportunity" yet "hasn’t shown enough to warrant a spot."

The uncertainty around Patrick Chung could grant Melifonwu a reprieve. A New Hampshire grand jury indicted Chung on a felony charge of cocaine possession earlier this month. He pleaded not guilty and will be back in court Nov. 8.

       

Almost Certainly Safe: Jerick McKinnon, RB, San Francisco 49ers

Tony Avelar/Associated Press

The 2019 offseason couldn't be unfolding much worse for Jerick McKinnon, who missed the entire 2018 regular season after tearing his ACL.

San Francisco general manager John Lynch confirmed Wednesday in an interview with KNBR that McKinnon had yet another setback in his recovery from that injury.

This has been a persistent problem for the 27-year-old:

Matt Barrows @mattbarrows

Jerick McKinnon has suffered three flare-ups in his surgically repaired right knee: * Before training camp. He began training camp on PUP * After his initial return to practice Aug. 6 * After his second return to practice Tuesday

McKinnon is an example of how quickly life can change for a running back in the NFL.

He amassed 991 yards from scrimmage and scored five touchdowns for the Minnesota Vikings in 2017. Upon signing a four-year, $30 million contract with the 49ers, he appeared set for a possible breakthrough in Kyle Shanahan's offense.

Now, McKinnon's future is uncertain.

San Francisco has Matt Breida coming back after he ran for a team-high 814 yards in 2018, and it signed Tevin Coleman to a two-year, $8.5 million contract. Breida and Coleman will be the team's top two running backs, with McKinnon left on the outside looking in.

Releasing him outright would be a better option for San Francisco were it not for his contract. He'd count for $5.7 million against the salary cap and save the team only $50,000.

NBC Sports Bay Area's Matt Maiocco noted the Niners could place McKinnon on season-ending injured reserve, which would allow them to avoid putting him on the 53-man active roster prior to the final roster cuts.

That would allow Lynch to kick the can down the road before seriously considering McKinnon's fate next offseason.