NFL Cuts 2021: Release Predictions for Some of League's Toughest Decisions

Jake RillFeatured Columnist IIAugust 27, 2021

NFL Cuts 2021: Release Predictions for Some of League's Toughest Decisions

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    Derick Hingle/Associated Press

    The start of the 2021 NFL season is now less than two weeks away, as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Dallas Cowboys will kick things off on Sept. 9. However, before Week 1 is here, the league's 32 teams all have important decisions to make, some of which will be quite difficult.

    That's because the roster deadline is quickly approaching. By Tuesday at 4 p.m. ET, every NFL team must decide which 53 players will be on its roster to begin the season. As it stands, they all have more than 53 players who are still in training camp.

    Not every cut will be a tough decision, with some players who are clearly on their way to being let go. But there are always some battles between players who are on the bubble, and these situations could potentially go either way.

    Here's a look at several players who could end up being on the wrong end of these challenging conundrums. 

Latavius Murray, RB, New Orleans Saints

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    Derick Hingle/Associated Press

    Considering Murray has been behind Alvin Kamara on the Saints' depth chart the past two seasons, it's been impressive that he's still made an impact for the team. Over those two years, he rushed for 1,293 yards and scored 11 total touchdowns in 31 games.

    However, the 31-year-old Murray may not even be on the Saints' roster in 2021. Second-year running back Tony Jones Jr. has impressed during training camp, and that may leave Murray battling for a spot with fellow veteran Devonta Freeman, who signed a one-year deal with New Orleans last month.

    Earlier this month, The Athletic's Larry Holder noted that he thought Murray had the edge over Freeman. But Murray hasn't fared well in the Saints' first two preseason games, rushing for 12 yards on nine carries. It's only preseason (and Freeman hasn't performed great, either), but it's still notable.

    Freeman is two years younger than Murray, and he's on a cheaper contract. So don't be surprised if Murray ends up being the odd running back out, leaving Jones and Freeman to back up Kamara this season.

Breshad Perriman, WR, Detroit Lions

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    Fred Vuich/Associated Press

    Entering training camp, it seemed like Perriman may have an opportunity to become the Lions' No. 1 wide receiver. Now, it's possible he won't even make the team's 53-man roster.

    What happened? Well, the 27-year-old Perriman appears to have not made the best first impression on new Detroit head coach Dan Campbell and his staff. Not only has Perriman dealt with a hip injury, but he's also underperformed in preseason action, which could potentially result in him getting cut. 

    "There just hasn't been enough out there," Campbell said (h/t Jeff Risdon of Lions Wire). " ... I think that [WR] room right now is still up for grabs. I think there's a heavy competition going on in that room right now."

    The Lions don't have a great receiving corps, and they'll need to improve that group in the future. But it could be worth giving playing time to some youngsters rather than Perriman, who has had opportunities over his first five NFL seasons but hasn't quite capitalized.

    Detroit would still have to pay $2 million of dead cap if it cuts Perriman, but that seems to be where this situation is headed.

Shaq Lawson, DE, Houston Texans

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    It's clear that Lawson likely isn't earning much playing time in his first camp with the Texans. During the team's first two preseason games, the 27-year-old defensive end played in the second half, when the starters were out of the game, and he was even in during the fourth quarter of last Saturday's game against the Dallas Cowboys.

    Houston has a strong group of pass rushers on its roster, and it's going to have to part ways with some of them by Tuesday. If Lawson isn't going to play, why not cut him? One thing that could keep him on the Texans' roster is the financial repercussions, which The Athletic's Aaron Reiss outlined.

    "If Houston cut Lawson, it would net the team less than $1 million in cap savings while costing approximately $2.7 million in dead money this season and $5.3 million next season," Reiss wrote.

    Still, it could come to the point that the Texans would rather have that roster spot to keep another pass rusher and not have to carry a player who won't get significant playing time. Maybe they could try to trade Lawson, but his stock likely isn't too high at this point.

    Perhaps Houston's third and final preseason game will make an impact, but cutting Lawson is something the team may end up having to consider.