2020 NFL Roster Bubble: Biggest Names Who Could Be Cut
The NFL roster bubble remains a major facet of training camps this summer no matter how unorthodox things might feel.
A number of new factors make the bubble process more complicated than most years, though. The NFL reduced the roster limit to 80 players, and the possibility of a reduced salary cap in 2021 and beyond could mean more cost-oriented cuts by teams.
But at the same time, an expanded practice squad with more lenient call-up rules and claim protections means teams could get creative with how they stash talent.
Either way, some major names around the league could end up cut from the bubble due to cap circumstances, production and age. These are some of the biggest candidates to watch.
Jerick McKinnon, RB, San Francisco 49ers
In 2018, running back Jerick McKinnon was one of the more notable signings of free agency when the San Francisco 49ers gave him a four-year deal worth $30 million.
But McKinnon hasn't played in a regular-season game since 2017.
Injuries have dashed McKinnon's upside with the 49ers. Even in 2017 with the Minnesota Vikings, his versatility was a boon to the tune of 570 yards and three scores on the ground and 51 catches for another 421 yards and two scores.
But the 49ers have seemingly moved on, with Raheem Mostert breaking out last year and receiving a restructure. The front office also brought on Tevin Coleman in 2019 and scooped up a handful of intriguing undrafted players.
McKinnon is still only 28 years old, but the injury history and $2.91 million cap hit could mean the 49ers make an obvious call at the position.
Josh Rosen, QB, Miami Dolphins
It wasn't too long ago Josh Rosen was one of the biggest names in the quarterback draft class, eventually becoming the 10th overall pick in 2018.
But Rosen is a good example of how quickly things can change in the NFL.
The Arizona Cardinals threw Rosen to the wolves as a rookie, and he completed 55.2 percent of his passes with more interceptions than touchdowns for a team staff that was eventually fired. The organization then couldn't pass up on Kyler Murray at No. 1, and Rosen went to the Miami Dolphins, where he got in just six games.
Now those Dolphins have made Tua Tagovailoa a first-round pick and hung on to the veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick. There's still some upside with Rosen (especially if a team ever permits him some consistency), but he clearly won't be unseating the new potential franchise passer anytime soon.
And while the Dolphins could get creative with Rosen on the practice squad to technically roster three quarterbacks, both parties might be open to letting him seek opportunities elsewhere since Fitzpatrick is clearly the starter until Tagovailoa is ready.
Rasul Douglas, DB, Philadelphia Eagles
Rasul Douglas could be the odd man out in the secondary for the Philadelphia Eagles.
Douglas was an intriguing, big (6'2") defensive back prospect when the Eagles made him a third-round pick in 2017. But the organization has made a notable effort to get faster and more versatile at corner and safety since.
To that end, the Eagles made a big splash by acquiring Darius Slay, adding him to a depth chart featuring names like Nickell Robey-Coleman and Avonte Maddox. That leaves Douglas roughly fourth at best a year removed from allowing six touchdowns in coverage while earning a Pro Football Focus grade of 52.4.
With Douglas carrying a roughly $1 million cap hit, the Eagles could look to use his roster spot on a younger, upside-oriented player behind the big names sure to get most of the snaps in 2020.
Adam Shaheen, TE, Miami Dolphins
The Chicago Bears made it clear Adam Shaheen was on his way out the door this offseason by bringing on Jimmy Graham and second-round rookie Cole Kmet. They then proceeded to trade Shaheen to the Miami Dolphins.
But those Dolphins aren't a lock to keep Shaheen around for very long, either.
A second-round pick by the Bears in 2017 who was viewed then as a risk coming out of Ashland, Shaheen has only appeared in 27 career games over three seasons, catching just 26 passes.
But now Shaheen joins a depth chart featuring 2018 second-round pick Mike Gesicki, as well as 2018 fourth-round pick Durham Smythe and the 6'5" Chris Myarick. Considering the Dolphins only spent a conditional seventh-round pick to get him in the door and he has a cap hit of $1.27 million in 2020, Shaheen could be out as quickly as he arrived if coaches don't see a big early impact.
Haason Reddick, LB, Arizona Cardinals
The proverbial writing has been on the wall for the Arizona Cardinals and Haason Reddick.
Arizona elected not to pick up the fifth-year option on the 2017 No. 13 pick for obvious reasons, chief among those being the fact he's now changed positions four times. Now add in the fact the Cardinals took another Swiss Army knife defender with this year's eighth pick, Isaiah Simmons.
Simmons figures to eat into Reddick's snap counts as the coaching staff experiments. This is especially likely considering Reddick checked in with a miserable 40.2 PFF grade in 2019 while missing 12.6 percent of his tackles and allowing seven touchdowns in coverage.
While the Cardinals could choose to keep experimenting in the hopes something sticks, Reddick carries a $4.29 million cap hit in 2020, and the defensive makeover could see the team use his spot to keep somebody else over the long run.
Cameron Brate, TE, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The six-year, $40.8 million deal the Tampa Bay Buccaneers gave tight end Cameron Brate in 2018 always looked odd.
Right on cue, Brate had just 289 yards and six touchdowns in 2018, then followed it up in 2019 with 311 yards and four scores. Not only were the numbers shrug-worthy, but Brate also played just 38 percent of the offense's total snaps, earning a 66.3 PFF grade.
By comparison, O.J. Howard played 69 percent of the offense's snaps, and joining him this year is Rob Gronkowski, former favorite target of new quarterback Tom Brady. On a normal team, Buccaneers coaches could get creative and use all three, but the Buccaneers are hardly normal given the presence of weapons like Mike Evans and Chris Godwin, too.
Considering Brate has a $4.25 million cap hit this year, north of $6 million in the following two years and $7.5 million the year after that, the Buccaneers might be content to cut ties after this offseason's unexpected new arrivals.
Shaquem Griffin, LB, Seattle Seahawks
Shaquem Griffin has yet to carve out a major role with the Seattle Seahawks since being drafted in the fifth round in 2018.
In the two years since, the Seahawks have used three picks on the position, the most notable one being first-rounder Jordyn Brooks this year. It's not hard to see why someone such as the Seattle Times' Bob Condotta considers Griffin a bubble candidate.
While the Seahawks could always look to use Griffin more on the edge as a pass-rusher, coaches said the same thing before the 2019 season. When it comes time to play the numbers game, Griffin could be one of the most notable players let go.
LeSean McCoy, RB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
LeSean McCoy is a late arrival for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but he could end up merely being a camp body despite his name recognition.
McCoy, now 32 years old, spent last season with the Kansas City Chiefs and recorded just 101 carries (none of which came in the postseason).
Now Shady joins another backfield whose outlook is just fine without him playing a major role.
Ronald Jones is already the favorite of head coach Bruce Arians going into the season after 724 yards and six scores on a 4.2 average as well as 31 catches in 2019. The Buccaneers also spent a third-round pick on Ke'Shawn Vaughn, who rushed for 30 touchdowns on a 5.8 average over four collegiate seasons. And Dare Ogunbowale is a sheer pass-catching option, the kind Tom Brady loved in New England.
Past trends and the current depth chart factored in, McCoy might not be long for his new roster.