Biggest Takeaways from Every NFL Team's Final 2020 Roster Cuts
The Jacksonville Jaguars essentially awoke the sleeping giant that is the NFL from the doldrums of an uncertain and unprecedented offseason when the team released 2017 fourth overall pick Leonard Fournette.
The move sounded a virtual klaxon to confirm, yes, there will be a professional football season, and it's less than a week away from kicking off with the Houston Texans traveling to the defending champion Kansas City Chiefs for the opening salvo on Thursday Night Football.
Before reaching that point, NFL rosters had to be trimmed to 53 by 4 p.m. ET on Saturday. While certain differences exist within this year's personnel setup across the league, the cut-downs serve as the starting point for a squad's overall roster management.
As an example, rosters actually expand to 55 players this season, but two of those will be call-ups from the practice squads, while anyone placed on injured reserve after Sept. 6 can be recalled to the active roster with unlimited capability of doing so.
Difficult decisions are made across the board during one of the most dour days on the league calendar, but with those decisions, we learned something about every franchise and the direction in which its trending.
Once upon a time, Hakeem Butler looked like a future superstar. During his final season at Iowa State, Butler dazzled onlookers with his downfield receptions and dominated smaller defensive backs.
The massive 6'5", 227-pound target looked like a possible first-round draft prospect, though he ultimately slid to the fourth. The downfall only continued as a rookie when Butler broke his hand and missed all of last season.
"It was a changing moment for me," Butler told reporters. " ... It was like a redshirt year for me."
The wide receiver never made it to Year 2 with the team, with the Cardinals releasing Butler on Friday.
While some other squad will undoubtedly give the big receiver another chance, the move speaks to how much talent Arizona currently has within its wide receiver room with Larry Fitzgerald, Christian Kirk, Andy Isabella, KeeSean Johnson and offseason addition DeAndre Hopkins.
Former first-round picks tend to receive opportunity after opportunity to show they're capable of playing in the league because NFL personnel believe in their natural talent.
Laquon Treadwell hasn't proved he can play at the NFL level after four unproductive seasons with the Minnesota Vikings and now being released by the Atlanta Falcons after signing a one-year deal in free agency, per ESPN's Adam Schefter.
Although a talented performer often can flourish in a different situation, that's rarely the case after receiving multiple opportunities elsewhere. The Falcons realized this early in the process and decided to stick with Russell Gage and Olamide Zaccheaus to complement Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley.
The interesting thing this situation is the Falcons' reliance on a third target will likely fall on tight end Hayden Hurst, another former first-round draft pick now at his second stop, after Austin Hooper signed a free-agent deal with the Cleveland Browns.
To steal from another team's head coach for a moment, the following quote best encapsulates the Baltimore Ravens' approach to the 2020 campaign:
"I think that this year with the unique position that we're in, I truly believe that this is a veteran type of year," Houston Texans head coach Bill O'Brien told reporters in April. "I think it's going to be really difficult for rookies without offseason practicing on the field and being able to do all the things that you do during that five-week stretch after the draft and then training camp."
How does this apply to the Ravens? Baltimore didn't retain a single undrafted free agent on their final 53-man roster, as The Athletic's Jeff Zrebiec noted. And though the Ravens drafted nine rookies in this year's class, the current undertaking shows two things: Baltimore features one of the NFL's deepest rosters, and this team is ready to win big now.
Most undrafted free agents aren't going to contribute anyhow, and some can be stashed on the practice squad.
The Buffalo Bills coaching staff was excited about their competition at fullback before the team placed 10-year veteran Patrick DiMarco on injured reserve with a neck injury. Why? Because undrafted rookie Reggie Gilliam looked like a natural after transitioning from tight end.
"Reggie is open to learning and wants to learn and cares," special teams coordinator Heath Farwell told reporters. "He's having a great, great camp as well."
Gilliam can contribute at fullback, tight end and as a core-four special teamer now that he's part of the roster, per Advance Media New York's Ryan Talbot.
"Reggie is a smart player that has picked up special teams as good as we have on this team as far as the rookies," Farwell said.
Buffalo had two running backs on the field only 14 percent of the time last season, according to Sharp Football Stats. Even so, Gilliam making the roster shouldn't be viewed as just a replacement for the injured DiMarco. He can play some tight end and be an integral part of special teams. The Bills can't ask for much more from an undrafted free agent.
Everyone knew the Carolina Panthers were going to be young on the defensive side of the ball this fall, but no one knew exactly how young they would be.
As part of the team's round of cuts Saturday, the organization kept all seven of its draft picks and three undrafted free agents. On the surface, this may not be surprising until you realize all seven of those selections were on the defensive side of the ball and two of those three signees—Sam Franklin and Myles Hartsfield—are a linebacker and defensive back, respectively.
As such, the entirety of Carolina's rookie class, save for punter Joseph Charlton, resides on one side of the ball.
Obviously, changes needed to be made after Luke Kuechly''s abrupt retirement and the departures of Gerald McCoy, Dontari Poe, James Bradberry, Eric Reid and Mario Addison. The Panthers could have an exciting and energetic defense, but expect the group to make a lot of mistakes, too.
Stop me if you've heard this one before: The Chicago Bears have issues at kicker.
Yep, it's true.
According to 670 The Score's Chris Emma, Eddy Pineiro is currently dealing with a groin injury and may be placed on injured reserve. Yet, the organization still decided to cut veteran alternative Cairo Santos.
Now, Santos could return on a non-guaranteed contract, but the Bears are tempting fate by not addressing what's become the second-most important position within the organization.
Even if Santos returns, major concerns still remain since he hasn't been the full-time kicker for any franchise since 2016.
Death, taxes and the Bears' kicking woes are the only certainties in life.
The Cincinnati Bengals had plenty of talent at the tight end position and decided to keep only three in C.J. Uzomah, Drew Sample and Cethan Carter. The organization announced it released Mason Schreck and Mitchell Wilcox on Saturday.
While neither of the moves should be overly surprising considering the depth at the position, plenty of potential exists in both tight end options.
Schreck, whom the Bengals selected with a seventh-round pick in the 2017 draft, flashed at points during his career, but injuries marred his first two seasons before being placed on the practice squad last year.
Mitchell Wilcox was thought to be a possible early-round draft pick a year ago before a disappointing final season at South Florida and a disastrous predraft workout sunk his value and he went undrafted. Even so, the skills are there to make a team.
Really, the fact most of Cincinnati's cuts weren't much of a surprise says quite a bit about where the franchise currently stands after finishing with the league's worst record last year.
The Cleveland Browns spent a 2018 third-round pick on defensive end Chad Thomas in an attempt to provide Myles Garrett with a long-term bookend. Things didn't go as planned.
Thomas wasn't ready to contribute as a rookie and played in only four games. He saw more action during his sophomore campaign thanks to an Olivier Vernon injury, but the edge-defender displayed very little juice as an edge-rusher. Thomas is a true base end in a pass-rushing world.
Porter Gustin, who originally went undrafted last year, was signed by the Browns in November after being released by the New Orleans Saints. Gustin is now slated to be Cleveland's fourth defensive end behind Garrett, Vernon and Adrian Clayborn.
Although, the team's current standing shows exactly why the organization pursued defensive ends all offseason, whether it was Jadeveon Clowney, Everson Griffen or Vinny Curry. Cleveland wants to create a pass rush from its front four no matter who is on the field, and the unit may still be a man short.
Once the Dallas Cowboys decided to cut safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, immediate speculation began regarding the team possibly signing Earl Thomas due to their previous interest in one another. But the move seems less about the seven-time Pro Bowl defensive back and far more about an option already on the roster.
"Multiple sources say there has been no communication between the Cowboys and Earl Thomas and nothing has been set up," the Fort Worth Star-Telegram's Clarence Hill Jr. reported Friday.
Instead, Xavier Woods appears ready to go for the start of the season despite suffering a groin injury recently. The team also has some depth at the position after converting Daryl Worley from cornerback to safety. Finally, the Cowboys are considering signing a veteran just to provide a little more depth, with Brandon Carr, not Thomas, brought in for a visit, per NFL Network's Tom Pelissero.
Todd Davis started 59 games over the last four seasons for the Denver Broncos and led the team in tackles in both 2018 and 2019, but the organization chose to cut the 28-year-old linebacker and make way for Alexander Johnson to take over a starting role.
"With him pushing himself more to excel at the mental part of the game—he can do the physical things we want him to do, head coach Vic Fangio told reporters of Johnson last week. "He's just got to be more efficient and more knowledgeable and react in the plays quicker and better more consistently than he did last year."
On Friday, the Broncos completed a trade by sending defensive lineman Christian Covington to the Cincinnati Bengals for linebacker Austin Calitro. The 26-year-old defender brought much-needed depth and allowed the Broncos to release Davis. In doing so, the organization saved $4.5 million toward this year's salary cap.
Now, Johnson and Mark Barron, who signed with the Broncos last weekend, are the projected starters at inside linebacker with Calitro and Josey Jewell serving as backups.
The Detroit Lions had to sort out their backfield and decided not to stick with a recent draft pick. According to ESPN's Michael Rothstein, the Lions chose to release fifth-round pick Jason Huntley.
Detroit chose D'Andre Swift three rounds earlier, but Huntley was supposed to provide a change-of-pace element to the scheme.
"In this game right now at the running back position you have to be able to catch the ball, be able to split you out," Huntley told reporters Monday. "In that situation, when you got a linebacker trying to go one on one with me, knowing that I played a lot of wide receiver and caught a lot of balls, it helps us out. It shows that I'm versatile in situations and I can play this and that."
The Lions didn't agree, at least not to the point where he earned a spot on the active roster. Swift, Kerryon Johnson and Bo Scarbrough each provide unique skill sets to differentiate the Lions rushing attack after finishing in the bottom half of the league last season.
Green Bay Packers
The Green Bay Packers' handling of the wide receiver position this offseason is utterly fascinating.
First, the team didn't sign anyone of consequence in free agency. Second, the Packers didn't even touch an outstanding draft class for the position. Finally, the organization rid itself of one of the few options quarterback Aaron Rodgers actually trusts when it cut Jake Kumerow, per ESPN's Rob Demovsky.
"The key is being reliable, and earning my trust," Rodgers said of Kumerow last year, per Zach Kruse of USA Today's Packers Wire. "... He is an extremely intelligent guy who is in the right place at the right time. He makes contested catches, he makes the plays that are there and he does the little things."
Allen Lazard, Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Equanimeous St. Brown, Malik Taylor and Tyler Ervin must build some kind of rapport with Rodgers. Otherwise, this Packers passing offense will never fully materialize beyond the quarterback constantly targeting Davante Adams.
An unexpected swap occurred along the Houston Texans defensive front. The Texans released Angelo Blackson, who started 15 games last season, while retaining P.J. Hall, who's been on the squad for three weeks.
Earlier this offseason, the Las Vegas Raiders traded Hall to the Minnesota Vikings, but the defensive lineman failed a physical, thus negating the deal. Subsequently, the Raiders released Hall and the Texans signed him as a free agent.
According to the Houston Chronicle's Aaron Wilson, Hall "got into shape and impressed [the] team" during his limited time in Houston. If properly motivated, the 25-year-old can be a disruptive presence to work alongside J.J. Watt, Brandon Dunn, Charles Omenihu, Carlos Watkins and second-round rookie Ross Blacklock.
Kicker competitions aren't sexy, but they are important.
The Indianapolis Colts endured a true kicking competition this training camp for the first time since Adam Vinatieri signed with the organization 14 years ago, with Chase McLaughlin and Rodrigo Blankenship vying for the vacant spot.
"These are two NFL kickers right here," head coach Frank Reich told reporters. "These guys both need to be playing in the league."
Ultimately, the bespectacled Blankenship won the job with McLaughlin being released. Now, plenty of pressure will be placed on the rookie's right leg since the Colts are a team that can compete for an AFC South division title.
As if the Jacksonville Jaguars' approach couldn't get any more obvious, the team plans to move forward with absolutely zero experience behind second-year starting quarterback Gardner Minshew II.
The front office chose to release both Mike Glennon and Josh Dobbs, according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport. Sixth-round rookie Jake Luton is now the team's lone backup signal-caller.
To be fair, the Jaguars might have struck gold in last year's sixth round when general manager Dave Caldwell drafted Minshew. Maybe he is the franchise's quarterback of the future. If he's not, Jacksonville has only one direction it'll go: straight toward a top-five, if not the No. 1 overall, draft pick—which looks to be the plan anyhow.
This offseason, the Jaguars dumped quarterback Nick Foles, cornerback A.J. Bouye, defensive end Calais Campbell, defensive tackle Marcell Dareus, edge-rusher Yannick Ngakoue, safety Ronnie Harrison and running back Leonard Fournette. The lack of talent throughout the roster is not a foundation for a young quarterback to succeed, whether it's Minshew or Luton asked to do so.
Kansas City Chiefs
A pair of disappointing draft picks vied for the same spot on the Kansas City Chiefs roster, with Taco Charlton emerging as the victor.
Charlton hasn't been productive through the early portions of his career, but he'll now serve as the Chiefs' fourth defensive end behind Frank Clark, Alex Okafor and Tanoh Kpassagnon.
Breeland Speaks, whom Kansas City selected with their top pick in the 2018 draft (46th overall) didn't make the regular-season roster. Speaks spent the entirety of last season on injured reserve and even received a four-game suspension for a violation of the league's substance-abuse policy.
While Speaks' draft status will cause some heads to turn with regards to his dismissal, he started only four games in two seasons and provided 1.5 sacks.
Las Vegas Raiders
Money doesn't mean everything. The Las Vegas Raiders signed safety Damarious Randall to a one-year, $3.25 million free-agent deal this offseason, but they cut him on Friday, thus still taking on $1.5 million of this year's salary, which can be lowered if he signs elsewhere.
Unfortunately, the 28-year-old defensive back struggled with injuries during training camp and practiced only once, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal's Vincent Bonsignore.
Now, the Raiders starting safety tandem is set with Erik Harris and last year's 27th overall pick, Johnathan Abram, who is back from last year's season-ending torn rotator cuff and labrum. Veteran Jeff Heath will be the primary backup to both after starting 44 games over the last three seasons.
Los Angeles Chargers
Expect a different offense this fall for the Los Angeles Chargers. With Philip Rivers no longer leading the team, offensive coordinator Shane Steichen must take a different approach with quarterbacks Tyrod Taylor and rookie Justin Herbert.
"You want to build some things around what your quarterbacks do," Steichen told reporters. "What your quarterbacks do, let's work to their strengths and build off that. And that's the same with all positions. You want to put your guys in position to be successful."
The latter point is important, because the Chargers decided to keep four tight ends on their active roster.
Obviously, Hunter Henry is the team's franchise player and will be featured. At the same time, Los Angeles can lean on the talent at the position and possibly become 12-personnel-heavy since Virgil Green, Stephen Anderson and Donald Parham are athletic and can create mismatches in the passing game.
Los Angeles Rams
Jamil Demby played in six games and started only one last season. However, his release shows how far the Los Angeles Rams offensive line has come in such a short time.
A year ago, injuries ravaged the Rams front. Right tackle Rob Havenstein started only nine games. Austin Blythe was forced to move from right guard to center. Joseph Noteboom, David Edwards and Austin Corbett all started at left guard at some point.
The constant movement and different mashups between the front five took one of the team's greatest strengths and made it into a weakness.
Now healthy, Los Angeles expects to be far more sturdy up front with Andrew Whitworth, Noteboom, Blythe, Corbett and Havenstein given time to work and grow together when that was never the case during the 2019 campaign.
The fact the Miami Dolphins decided to move on from third-year quarterback Josh Rosen isn't a surprise. Everyone knew the organization planned to move forward with veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick and this year's fifth overall draft pick, Tua Tagovailoa.
The surprise came when the team couldn't muster any interest in a possible trade for the 2018 10th overall selection. According to ESPN's Adam Schefter, no suitors emerged for the quarterback despite him still being on a rookie contract.
Dolphins head coach Brian Flores called Rosen "immensely talented" and said he "competed" throughout camp, but the taint of two horrible seasons after being placed in untenable situations appears to have taken its toll.
For Miami, the lack of interest has to be disappointing simply because the Dolphins could have added another draft asset in a minor deal. For Rosen, he's still only 23 years old and could find a home with another organization that currently has no long-term plan behind an aging starter.
The Minnesota Vikings offensive line is settled.
Dakota Dozier won the competition at left guard after the team released Aviante Collins on Saturday, per the Minneapolis Star-Tribune's Andrew Krammer.
Last season, Pat Elflein started on the left side, but the Vikings coaching staff chose to move him to right guard this offseason.
"Pat's a good player. He had a good year," offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak told reporters last month. "Obviously, we're going to have to fill the other guard spot. Rick [Spielman] and I sat down with Pat. Just felt like this was the best move for us to make right now and go get competitive."
Another position switch contributed to Collins' departure. Second-round rookie Ezra Cleveland, who was a left tackle in college, worked as the second-team left guard throughout training camp, per ESPN's Courtney Cronin.
With these moves and left tackle Riley Reiff reworking his current contract, the Vikings' starting front five is set.
New England Patriots
The New England Patriots took a chance on a talented player coming off a major injury, but the move didn't work out. On Aug. 13, the organization signed two-time 1,000-yard running back Lamar Miller, who suffered a torn ACL before last season. At the time, head coach Bill Belichick said it was to improve backfield depth.
"Our roster was at one point down around 75 maybe, somewhere in there, 74 or 75," Belichick told reporters. "I can't remember, but it was significantly below the 80-man roster limit. So, if we can add quality and depth to our team, then we'll do that."
The Patriots cut Miller before Saturday's deadline, which is a good sign for the organization's running back room.
Sony Michel is back in the lineup after undergoing foot surgery earlier this offseason. Damien Harris had surgery on his pinkie finger, but he's not expected to miss much time, per ESPN's Mike Reiss. Plus, New England still has veteran stalwarts James White and Rex Burkhead, which made Miller redundant.
New Orleans Saints
The New Orleans Saints made a pair of interesting, maybe unrelated, moves when they cut veterans Anthony Chickillo and Mario Edwards Jr., both of whom are edge-rushers.
Why were these decisions interesting?
The Saints were aggressively pursuing free agent Jadeveon Clowney before he chose to sign with the Tennessee Titans, per ESPN's Dianna Russini. Obviously, the Saints can and will move forward without the three-time Pro Bowler, though it's clear this team is all-in as a Super Bowl contender.
New Orleans is solid among its edge-defenders with Cameron Jordan, Marcus Davenport, Trey Hendrickson and rookie Zack Baun. The group could be even better, however. Don't be surprised if New Orleans continues to look at its options.
New York Giants
Change is inevitable when a new coaching staff takes over a team. Different philosophies, schemes and players are brought in to fit the new direction. Inevitably, some players don't fit into the plans.
Case in point, the New York Giants drafted linebacker Ryan Connelly in the fifth round in 2019. Connelly started three of his first four games, but he suffered a torn ACL in Week 4.
This offseason, Giants brass hired Joe Judge. Apparently, Connelly didn't fit into his vision since the team released him Saturday.
Instead, the Giants will have Blake Martinez, who signed a three-year, $30.8 million free-agent deal this offseason, manning the middle of the defense with Carter Coughlin, Cam Brown and T.J. Brunson vying for playing time.
New York Jets
The New York Jets made a pair of moves that showed the improved depth of the roster, specifically within two positions, per Ralph Vacchiano of SNY. Center Jonotthan Harrison and linebacker James Burgess started 10 games apiece last season. Both are no longer with the organization.
The Jets invested multiple assets in their respective positions to improve the roster.
Along the offensive line, free agent Connor McGovern signed a three-year, $27 million deal to take over snapping duties alongside the additions of guard Greg Van Roten, tackle George Fant and this year's No. 11 draft pick, tackle Mekhi Becton.
At linebacker, Patrick Onwuasor joined Avery Williamson, who reworked his contract this offseason, Neville Hewitt and Blake Cashman to man the middle of the defense.
Harrison and Burgess should find work elsewhere, but their releases show how far the team has come with its talent pool since last season.
The Philadelphia Eagles finally gave up on 2017 second-round pick Sidney Jones after an injury-marred three seasons with the organization.
Jones looked like a first-round talent but suffered a torn Achilles during his pro day, which caused him to fall into the draft's second day.
As a rookie, he played in one game as he recovered from the injury. The following two seasons were basically lost to hamstring injuries. In total, the cornerback played 22 regular-season contests.
The Eagles prepared for this moment by acquiring Darius Slay and Nickell Robey-Coleman this offseason to play alongside Avonte Maddox and Cre'Von LeBlanc. Also, Jalen Mills can play cornerback and safety. As such, Philadelphia tried to trade Jones "for some time," according to SiriusXM NFL Radio's Adam Caplan.
The Pittsburgh Steelers' defensive interior will look very different this fall.
Starter Javon Hargrave left via free agency, and the Steelers released Hargrave's backup, Daniel McCullers, on Saturday.
Tyson Alualu, who is entering his 11th season, converted from defensive end to nose tackle this offseason, and the Steelers were preparing in June for him to start.
Chris Wormley is another interior option in certain sub-packages. The Steelers acquired the 26-year-old and a seventh-round draft pick from the Baltimore Ravens in March for a fifth-round selection, and he is currently listed as a nose tackle on the Steelers' official site.
San Francisco 49ers
The San Francisco 49ers wide receiver corps has been inundated with injuries.
Deebo Samuel was activated off the non-football injury list Saturday, per NBC Sports' Matt Maiocco. Even so, the organization's decision to release Jauan Jennings, whom general manager John Lynch drafted in this year's seventh round, came as a surprise.
The Niners aren't quite out of the woods when it comes to their injury problems. Jalen Hurd, J.J. Nelson and Tavon Austin are already on injured reserve. First-round rookie Brandon Aiyuk has been nursing a hamstring injury, too. They recently signed 2015 No. 7 pick Kevin White to pick up the slack but could use even more at the position if Samuel and Aiyuk's injuries linger.
Obviously, San Francisco isn't happy with its standing and will likely look elsewhere to address the position.
The Seattle Seahawks selected Shaquem Griffin with a fifth-round pick during the 2018 draft, joining him with his twin brother, Shaquill, who was already part of the squad.
On Saturday, the Seahawks released Shaquem, per The Athletic's Michael-Shawn Dugar.
The problem was they could nots find a role for Griffin. As a rookie, he contributed mainly on special teams and spent some time as an off-ball linebacker, though the position didn't exactly fit his skill set. Last season, the Seahawks moved him to his more natural position as an edge-defender. He played more in that phase of the game but still didn't contribute much.
Seattle signed Benson Mayowa and Bruce Irvin in free agency before drafting Darrell Taylor and Alton Robinson. With that beefed-up edge presence, Griffin didn't quite fit anymore.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers put together one of the greatest offseasons any franchise has ever experienced. The addition of six-time Super Bowl champion Tom Brady carries plenty of weight unto itself, but the team retained most of its talent, added premium performers such as tight end Rob Gronkowski and drafted an impressive class.
However, special teams could prove to be an issue based on the team's recent roster moves.
First, the organization acknowledged yet another major mistake at kicker when it released Matt Gay, per Mike Garafolo and Tom Pelissero of NFL Network, after spending a fifth-round pick on him last year. Granted, the rookie struggled, missing eight field-goal attempts and five extra points. Ryan Succop took the job as an established veteran for a squad ready to win now. Even so, the Buccaneers' issues at kicker remain readily apparent after multiple swings and misses.
Also, the organization surprisingly cut special teams captain Dare Ogunbowale, per Ian Rapoport of NFL Network, to make room for Leonard Fournette. Yes, the backfield is crowded with Fournette, Ronald Jones II, LeSean McCoy and rookie Ke'Shawn Vaughn. But it's hard to part with a core special teams performer.
The Tennessee Titans made a couple of interesting moves at quarterback this offseason.
The decision to re-sign Ryan Tannehill to a multiyear contract certainly falls into the positive category after last season's breakthrough performance. But the organization doesn't seem to have a plan beyond that, and it became obvious after it released veteran backup Trevor Siemian two weeks after signing him.
"We are just trying to make decisions that we feel like will make us better and are in the best interests of the team," head coach Mike Vrabel told reporters after Siemian was signed.
Siemian's signing came on the heels of the organization's release of Cole McDonald, whom it drafted in this year's seventh round. Maybe the answer lies in something Siemian said regarding fellow backup Logan Woodside.
"I can't say enough about Logan, how he handles himself," Siemian told reporters.
Clearly, Woodside knows the offense and how the Titans want to operate.
Washington Football Team
Future Hall of Fame running back Adrian Peterson looked like he would be the Washington Football Team's lead back for a third consecutive season until the rebuilding franchise chose to go in another direction.
"It caught me by surprise. I was having a strong camp," Peterson told Josina Anderson. "It was showing up on film, taking No. 1 reps all the way to this week. I just got notified by the running backs coach yesterday that they want to give these young guys some reps, but I didn't know I was going to get cut. There was no indication."
Rookie Antonio Gibson is expected to be the primary beneficiary. This year's 66th pick is a talented runner and receiving threat.
"This is probably the first time I'm not being limited to just doing a certain thing," Gibson told reporters. "... Here, [offensive coordinator Scott Turner] has me doing a lot."
To the rookie's point, in 2018 and 2019, Turner coached Christian McCaffrey, who has led all running backs in receiving targets in each of his three seasons.
Bryce Love, Peyton Barber and J.D. McKissic will fill out the backfield.