Biggest Takeaways from Every NFL Team's Final 2021 Roster Cuts
Before NFL teams could begin preparing for the start of the 2021 season, they needed to make their final 53-man roster cuts by 4 p.m. on Tuesday.
Hundreds of players had their dreams of making it to the NFL dashed. However, they'll still have the chance to be placed on a practice squad or snatched up on waivers by another team.
Some surprises always pop up as teams make moves that seemed unlikely at the start of training camp. With these roster cuts, we've learned something about each team's plans in 2021.
Let’s start by discussing a player who wasn’t cut: Malcolm Butler.
The Arizona Cardinals placed Butler on the reserve/retired list. A day earlier, NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo reported that the veteran corner has been dealing with a personal situation.
"I don't want to get into, kind of, where it's at," head coach Kliff Kingsbury told reporters. "Like I said, nothing's official. Just leave it at that."
Without Butler and not knowing if he’ll return, the Cardinals secondary is now in upheaval.
The 31-year-old was supposed to serve as the unit’s top cover corner. Fourth-round rookie Marco Wilson will likely be thrust into a starting role, unless Arizona acquires another starting-caliber corner in the short term. Byron Murphy Jr. can also flex to outside corner if needed, but he’s better-served playing over the slot.
Quarterback Josh Rosen finally might have found his NFL home.
Since the Arizona Cardinals selected him with the 10th overall pick in the 2018 NFL draft, Rosen has bounced around the league. He's already been a part of four different teams—the Cardinals, Miami Dolphins, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and San Francisco 49ers—before he signed with the Atlanta Falcons last week.
Rosen responded with a relatively strong performance in Week 3 of the preseason, finishing 9-of-18 for 118 passing yards and a touchdown against the Cleveland Browns. The Falcons saw enough for him to enter the season as a backup to Matt Ryan.
The fourth-year signal-caller is only 24 years old. He may not be a franchise quarterback, but he's never been on the same team long enough to gain a real comfort level and develop.
Atlanta may be the ideal landing spot for Rosen behind Ryan, who has a similar skill set. New head coach Arthur Smith's previous track record of turning Ryan Tannehill's career around adds more intrigue.
Both Rosen and Feleipe Franks have growth potential for a Falcons team that will eventually be looking for a long-term answer whenever it moves on from the 36-year-old Ryan.
The Baltimore Ravens' edge-rushers could look dramatically different this fall compared to last season. Four of the team's top sack producers could be on different squads.
Matt Judon signed with the New England Patriots in free agency. Jihad Ward and Yannick Ngakoue left for the Jacksonville Jaguars and Las Vegas Raiders, respectively. And Baltimore cut Pernell McPhee on Tuesday.
The Athletic's Jeff Zrebiec believes the Ravens will re-sign the 32-year-old one they place a few players on injured reserve. The possibility of McPhee not returning is interesting, too.
Baltimore knew it had to beef up its pass rush this offseason. To do so, general manager Eric DeCosta re-signed Tyus Bowser, drafted Odafe Oweh in the first round and eventually brought in Justin Houston. McPhee could end up being the odd man out of what looks like an improved unit.
Tight end is arguably the weakest position on the Buffalo Bills' roster as they continue to wait for Dawson Knox to break out. They hedged their bet this offseason by signing Jacob Hollister in free agency, but they released him Tuesday.
Knox and Tommy Sweeney now make up Buffalo's tight end room, though Hollister could return if another team doesn't claim him on waivers.
The Bills might be biding their time until they can place injured players on short-term injured reserve. Anyone placed on IR before the roster cutdown is lost for the season, so they may already have a deal in place to bring Hollister back once they make those moves.
However, the 27-year-old could generate interest elsewhere. Over the last two seasons with the Seattle Seahawks, he caught 66 passes for 558 yards and six touchdowns.
Whether he's in Buffalo or not, Hollister figures to help a team this season.
The Carolina Panthers decided to keep only three running backs. Rodney Smith isn’t among them.
Christian McCaffrey will continue to serve as Carolina's offensive focal point. Fourth-round pick Chuba Hubbard impressed during his first training camp and preseason. And Trenton Cannon should be a core special teamer.
Smith became the odd man out even though he appeared poised to be part of the running back rotation. The Charlotte Observer’s Alaina Getzenberg reported that Smith was at practice before the Panthers decided he would be their final cut.
The 25-year-old dealt with a knee injury in recent weeks before getting back on the field and finding out his fate.
McCaffrey and Hubbard will get the lion’s share of the work in the run game (and some of the pass game). But the Panthers are now thin in the backfield.
The Chicago Bears have serious depth concerns at cornerback.
Jaylon Johnson is Chicago's CB1. Beyond that, the unit remains in flux after the team released Desmond Trufant, Artie Burns, Marqui Christian, Tre Roberson and sixth-round rookie Thomas Graham Jr.
Kindle Vildor will almost certainly take over the spot opposite Johnson, and Duke Shelley should cover the slot. From there, Chicago has next to nothing at cornerback.
Burns and Christian can return once the team places a few other players on short-term injured reserve. But even if both rejoin the Bears, their cornerback situation won't be dramatically better.
The Bears chose to release Kyle Fuller this offseason, which created a hole that they never adequately addressed. The position remains a sore spot, and it may become even more of a glaring hole depending on how Chicago proceeds in the next few days.
Aside from Joe Burrow's recovery from last season's ACL tear, the Cincinnati Bengals' biggest offseason concern revolved around rebuilding their offensive front. The two situations technically went hand-in-hand.
First, the Bengals rehired Frank Pollack to serve as their offensive line coach. Then, they signed veteran Riley Reiff to take over at right tackle. They also drafted Clemson's Jackson Carman, who will convert from left tackle to guard this fall.
As a result, Cincinnati saw an opportunity to cut ties on a failed investment.
On Monday, the team traded 2018 first-round pick Billy Price to the New York Giants in exchange for defensive tackle B.J. Hill. On Tuesday, the Bengals cut Michael Jordan, who started 19 games for them over the last two seasons.
Moving forward, the Bengals' interior will feature veteran guards Quinton Spain and Xavier Su'a-Filo with rookies Carman and D'Ante Smith pushing them for playing time. That should make them better up front than they were last year.
NFL training camps often provide inspiring stories about athletes who overcame obstacles to play at the highest level. Malik McDowell proved to be one of this year's most interesting.
McDowell signed with the Michigan State Spartans as a 5-star recruit. He looked like a slam-dunk future first-round pick. However, questions about his football character arose prior to the 2017 NFL draft. The Seattle Seahawks wound up selecting him with the 35th overall pick.
McDowell suffered numerous injuries during an ATV accident before he even reported to his first training camp. The defensive lineman was also arrested on multiple occasions and sentenced to 11 months in jail.
The Cleveland Browns took a flier on McDowell this offseason, and he made the Browns' active roster Tuesday.
"We believe Malik is in a good place, personally and medically. He has taken the necessary steps to get on a healthy path, and has learned from his experiences," general manager Andrew Berry said in a statement upon signing McDowell in May. "... He is committed to taking advantage of the support network in place to become the best version of himself—both on and off the field—and we will support him as he attempts to make his return to football."
The front office's belief in McDowell provided the team with a player who dominated throughout preseason. He'll give the Browns a real interior presence.
Cooper Rush is the Dallas Cowboys’ backup quarterback for now.
"I just think that he's shown that he can run the complete offense," team owner Jerry Jones told reporters. "Credit to him, he had some tough competition. Those guys didn't cut him any slack. He's had a lot of rep – a lot of our quarterbacks have, because of the absence of Dak."
Dallas chose to release both Garrett Gilbert and Ben DiNucci. Jones may not be done at the position, though.
According to ESPN’s Jordan Schultz, the Cowboys "will begin exploring" the possibility of signing Cam Newton, whom the New England Patriots cut before Tuesday's deadline.
Newton backing up Dak Prescott sounds exactly like the type of move Jones would make. But he should strongly consider it after watching the team’s nosedive last year once Prescott suffered a season-ending ankle injury.
The Denver Broncos know where they need to excel while playing in the AFC West, hence why they kept 11 defensive backs on their initial 53-man roster.
General manager George Paton explained their approach, per Aric DiLalla of the team’s official site:
"You just look at the division we play in with Kansas City and … Vegas and the Chargers. You need corners. You need safeties. … It's a pressure and cover league. I just don't think you can have enough, and I like our group. It's going to help the front [be] better. When you can cover longer, it helps Von [Miller], it helps [Bradley] Chubb. It helps all those guys. There was a thought process into that. With [Vic Fangio’s] defense, getting those guys that can cover, we're only going to be that much better."
As Denver News9’s Mike Klis noted, the Broncos have the league’s highest-paid secondary.
An argument can be made that the team should have invested in a quarterback with this year’s ninth overall draft pick instead of selecting Pat Surtain II. At the same time, Denver clearly knows what it wants its identity to be and has sunk significant assets to realize Paton and Fangio’s vision.
The Detroit Lions already had the league's worst set of wide receivers before they released Breshad Perriman on Monday.
Granted, Perriman never fully realized the potential that made him the 26th overall pick in the 2015 NFL draft. But stretches of solid play with the Cleveland Browns and Tampa Bay Buccaneers showed how he could positively impact an offense.
Perriman brings legitimate deep speed to any roster. At bare minimum, a defense must account for his ability to stretch the field.
The Lions signed Perriman this offseason to be one of their top two targets, but they never truly gave him an opportunity to seize the spot. He dealt with a hip injury throughout camp, which didn't help matters.
For now, the Lions will rely on Kalif Raymond to be their speedster. The 5'8" Holy Cross product doesn't have the same size as Perriman to work outside the numbers, but he can stack defensive backs. Aside from Raymond, Tyrell Williams and fourth-round rookie Amon-Ra St. Brown should serve as quarterback Jared Goff's favorite options at wide receiver.
Detroit also traded fifth- and seventh-round picks to the Denver Broncos for wide receiver Trinity Benson and a 2022 sixth-round pick, per Denver 9 News' Mike Klis.
Green Bay Packers
Jamaal Williams' decision to sign with the Detroit Lions as a free agent created an opening in the Green Bay Packers’ running back rotation.
Aaron Jones will continue as the lead back, and AJ Dillon should expect a bigger workload after mustering only 46 carries as a rookie. Green Bay entered training camp with a competition for the third spot, which seventh-round rookie Kylin Hill won with the release of Patrick Taylor.
Hill, who ranked third in the SEC in rushing yardage in 2019, took the job thanks to an outstanding performance throughout training camp. According to Pro Football Focus, he graded better than any rookie running back during the preseason, too.
“The biggest thing is his overall instincts,” running backs coach Ben Sirmans told reporters. “As a runner, am I able to anticipate, set blocks up and understand how to go slow and accelerate right at the right time. Plus, he's really tough and has a great, a great demeanor.”
Tuesday’s deadline came and went and Deshaun Watson is still a member of the Houston Texans organization.
So the 2021 campaign will begin with Watson on the Texans’ active roster, though the franchise clearly wants to move on from its former starting quarterback.
Numerous complications are keeping a deal from happening. Potential suitors won’t be interested in paying a premium—even with heavy contingencies—while Watson faces 22 civil lawsuits alleging sexual assault or misconduct and 10 criminal complaints.
To date, the league hasn’t stepped in as the proceedings remain ongoing, which places the Texans in a bind.
The problem with his retention is twofold. The Texans have to use a roster spot on someone they don’t expect to play. Also, his value decreases as the season wears on, which could then push into next offseason. Either general manager Nick Caserio will have to take less than his current asking price or consider outright releasing the 25-year-old.
Indianapolis Colts general manager Chris Ballard had to do something about addressing the team’s edge rush after moving on from Justin Houston and Denico Autry this offseason. The unit always had a ton of talent but lacked consistent producers.
Kemoko Turay, Ben Banogu and Al-Quadin Muhammed all have significant potential. Ballard signed Isaac Rochell in free agency and then drafted Kwity Paye in the first round. Tyquan Lewis is a stout edge-defender who rushes well from the interior.
As a result of these varied skill sets in differing stages of their careers, the Colts kept seven defensive ends.
The Colts’ front is built around All-Pro defensive tackle DeForest Buckner. He can consistently collapse the pocket and reset the line of scrimmage. He needs help, though.
The Colts have plenty, as long as some of the young options come to play on a weekly basis.
The Jacksonville Jaguars aren’t done at wide receiver. They haven't found enough talent for head coach Urban Meyer’s liking, according to ESPN’s Michael DiRocco.
DJ Chark Jr., Marvin Jones Jr. and Tavon Austin are all currently dealing with minor injuries. Jacksonville chose to release Pharoh Cooper, Laquon Treadwell, Phillip Dorsett II, Devin Smith, Jalen Camp, Jeff Cotton Jr., Josh Hammond, Tevin Jones and Collin Johnson.
Travis Etienne’s season-ending foot injury doesn’t help matters since he was supposed to line up as the team’s H-back.
Rookie No. 1 overall pick Trevor Lawrence doesn’t have the best supporting cast at the moment. Jaguars will be continually searching for upgrades at the skill positions.
Kansas City Chiefs
Travis Kelce may be the NFL's best tight end, but the Kansas City Chiefs are loaded beyond the first-team All-Pro.
The Chiefs added Blake Bell in free agency to provide depth behind Kelce. Despite being a solid option, Bell may not last as the Chiefs' second tight end for long.
Kansas City kept four tight ends in total, fifth-round rookie Noah Gray and wide receiver-convert Jody Fortson are capable of being big-time weapons in Andy Reid's offense.
Quarterback Patrick Mahomes told reporters how the Chiefs' array of tight ends will put opponents in a difficult spot:
"Having those tight ends on the field that can run-block and they can catch, and then the offensive line we've built here and how they've been able to really run the ball, I think it's going to put defenses in some very tough positions. They either have to put a lot of big people on the field to stop the run, or they have to find a way to stop those guys like Noah (Gray), Blake (Bell), Travis (Kelce) and Jody (Fortson) who can all catch the ball like a receiver."
Las Vegas Raiders
John Brown made life a little easier on the Las Vegas Raiders by requesting his release, per Tom Pelissero of NFL Network.
"There’s great competition at the wide receiver position," offensive coordinator Greg Olson told reporters Friday. "That’ll probably be the most difficult decision, will be making the cuts at the wide receiver position."
Brown's request shouldn't be a major surprise since he fell down the depth chart. However, the Raiders aren't entirely settled at wide receiver.
Las Vegas clearly has talent at the position, but it's still waiting on Henry Ruggs III and Bryan Edwards to blossom and take over as the top targets. Hunter Renfrow will work out of the slot.
Brown saw a dwindling role with fellow veterans Zay Jones and Willie Snead IV potentially taking reps away from him. The Raiders will continue to move forward with their young starting options while Brown can now look for a new opportunity elsewhere.
Los Angeles Chargers
Michael Badgley served as the Los Angeles Chargers' primary kicker for the last three seasons. But he struggled last season, and the Chargers brought in competition this offseason to challenge for the job.
Tristan Vizcaino came into training camp with three career regular-season field goal attempts. However, he wound up winning the job, as the Chargers released Badgley on Tuesday.
Vizcaino might be untested, but change seemed necessary. Special teams issues have long plagued the Chargers.
Badgley was once a bright spot, but he became a point of contention due to his inconsistency. Last season, he tied for 27th overall with a 72.7 conversion rate on field-goal attempts. He missed three extra-point attempts as well.
Head coach Brandon Staley and special teams coordinator Derius Swinton decided to let competition help them make their decision at kicker.
Los Angeles Rams
The Los Angeles Rams finished No. 1 overall in total defense last season despite deficiencies at the linebacker position.
As good as the defensive front and secondary played, the two groups lacked the connective tissue from the LBs to be even better. Part of the problem stemmed from a lack of athleticism along the second line.
Micah Kiser is a smart and instinctive linebacker. In fact, he tied for third on the team last season with 77 total tackles in only nine games. Kiser is a physical downhill plugger. He’s a base linebacker who struggles in space. As such, the Rams chose to keep others at linebacker.
Kenny Young will be the team’s primary inside linebacker and often paired with Troy Reeder. Third-round rookie Ernest Jones is the one to watch at this position. The 21-year-old already had an opportunity to serve as the defensive signal-caller during preseason.
"I take pride in being that guy in the middle,” Jones told reporters. “That's always what I wanted to be. That's just who I am."
Over the last two offseasons, the Miami Dolphins have invested plenty in their offensive line, which will be crucial to quarterback Tua Tagovailoa’s development.
Left tackle Austin Jackson is a 2020 first-round pick. The organization invested in guards Robert Hunt and Solomon Kindley during the same draft class. Miami quadrupled-down by grabbing tackle Liam Eichenberg with this year’s 42nd overall pick.
Center remained unsettled, though. The team signed Matt Skura and Cameron Tom this offseason, but both were cut.
The Dolphins could afford to do this because Michael Deiter took control of the position, and a trade for Greg Mancz from the Baltimore Ravens helped settle things.
For a quarterback to realize his full potential, he must be comfortable working in the pocket. Miami has built up its offensive front, with the final piece finally falling into place to help Tagovailoa.
The Minnesota Vikings addressed two key positions before Tuesday’s deadline.
First, they chose Kellen Mond to be Kirk Cousins’ backup and released Jake Browning. Mond committed multiple turnovers during his preseason appearances, but they spent a third-round pick on him in April. Everyone within the organization understands he is a developmental prospect with the potential to start down the road.
"Honestly, Mond needs to pick up the tempo. Everything is slow-motion, a little bit, but he did make some good throws today, I thought, and moved out of the pocket a couple of times," head coach Mike Zimmer told reporters two weeks ago. "He needs a bunch of experience, so he's going to get a lot of reps in this preseason.”
Minnesota also found help on offense after tight end Irv Smith Jr. suffered a meniscus injury, per NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero. The team traded for New York Jets tight end Chris Herndon, according to Ian Rapoport.
New England Patriots
Mac Jones, the fifth first-round quarterback selected in this year’s NFL draft, will be the New England Patriots' Week 1 starter after they released Cam Newton on Tuesday.
Performance, system fit and locker room presence all played a part. Fellow quarterback Brian Hoyer told reporters that Jones immediately fit into the Patriots' culture.
“I definitely think that he has taken every opportunity and taken advantage of it. That’s the one thing I would say—not many rookie quarterbacks have ever gotten the reps and the opportunity that he has, and he has embraced it full-on, head-on.
“He goes out there every day and does the best that he can and has earned the respect of his teammates, which I think is huge, especially being a young guy with a team with a lot of veteran guys who have played here. He has earned that respect by his preparation and his play.”
Newton was never an ideal fit for the Patriots. Offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels had to adjust his system last season in an attempt to maximize the former MVP’s talents.
Jones is a traditional pocket passer, which the franchise seems to prefer after 20 years with Tom Brady behind center. Plus, New England saves $1.9 million by going with Jones now and releasing Newton.
New Orleans Saints
Tuesday’s roster cutdown only magnified New Orleans’ issues at corner.
The team retained just three CBs. Granted, C.J. Gardner-Johnson is a safety only in title. The third-year defensive back is most often found covering the slot.
The Saints didn’t have the financial flexibility this offseason to keep Janoris Jenkins. Patrick Robinson surprised many when he decided to retire in the middle of training camp.
Aside from Marshon Lattimore, the only Saints officially listed as corners are Ken Crawley and third-round rookie Paulson Adebo. Lattimore is a standout cover corner, but he still has pending legal issues.
Somewhere, somehow New Orleans must acquire depth at the premium position. General manager Mickey Loomis should be looking everywhere to build out his secondary, whether through the waiver wire, a trade or free-agent signing.
New York Giants
The New York Giants had to upgrade their pass rush this offseason, but they didn't do so as effectively as possible.
Second-round rookie Azeez Ojulari should give New York a speedy edge-rusher with massive potential. Lorenzo Carter is also returning from a ruptured Achilles tendon, and the Giants should expect more from 2019-third rounder Oshane Ximines, too.
General manager Dave Gettleman also attempted to bolster the Giants' pass rush in free agency by signing Ifeadi Odenigbo to a one-year, $2.5 million deal.
The 27-year-old managed 10.5 combined sacks over the last two seasons, but he never appeared to be a fit in the Giants' defensive scheme. He's better off working from a three-point stance and reducing inside to maximize his pass-rushing potential.
Instead of finding ways to utilize Odenigbo, the Giants released him with their pass rush still in question.
New York Jets
After the New York Jets traded Chris Herndon to the Minnesota Vikings and released Ryan Griffin, Kenny Yeboah and Dan Brown, one has to wonder who they'll even start at tight end.
Tyler Kroft and Trevon Wesco are the two men left standing after Tuesday's moves. The Jets' relative lack of talent at the position will hamper their offensive scheme.
Tight ends are often featured in wide-zone-heavy offenses because they can contribute in both the run and pass games. They're typically a focal point like George Kittle in San Francisco, where both head coach Robert Saleh and offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur recently left.
Maybe Kroft returns to his 2017 form, when he caught 42 passes and seven touchdowns with the Cincinnati Bengals. That seems like a stretch, though.
Instead, rookie quarterback Zach Wilson will be forced to rely heavily on his revamped wide receiver corps. The trio of Corey Davis, Jamison Crowder and second-round rookie Elijah Moore should dominate the Jets' target share.
The Philadelphia Eagles made it a point to turn over their wide receiver corps from last season.
General manager Howie Roseman released veterans DeSean Jackson and Alshon Jeffery in March. The Eagles then traded up in the first round to draft reigning Heisman Trophy winner DeVonta Smith with the 10th pick.
On Tuesday, they surprisingly released Travis Fulgham, their leading receiver from last year.
Fulgham is only 25 and showed promising flashes during the 2020 campaign. He erupted for 435 receiving yards and four touchdowns in his first five games.
The Eagles will now feature Smith and 2020 first-round pick Jalen Reagor as their main receivers. Greg Ward emerged as a reliable and versatile option last season as well.
Still, Fulgham probably needed a longer look considering the state of the Eagles' receiving corps. Instead, the team chose to part ways with him now instead of later.
The Pittsburgh Steelers have a 39-year-old starting quarterback who underwent major elbow surgery less than two years ago. Questions about their offensive line aren't going away anytime soon, either.
That makes their backup quarterback position more important than perhaps any other team's.
It appears as though 2019 No. 15 overall pick Dwayne Haskins will serve in that role, as he "is expected to make the initial roster in Pittsburgh," according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport.
"I feel like I've done a great job just showing that I'm coachable," Haskins told reporters after the Steelers' preseason finale. "Showing that I'm wanting to learn, wanting to get better. Just trying to put things on film that are something that I can showcase what I can do."
A lack of maturity became an issue early in Haskins' career, which led to his release from the Washington Football Team. If Haskins is now showing more of a commitment to football and his team, he could become a vital part of the Steelers as Roethlisberger's eventual heir apparent.
San Francisco 49ers
Last season, the San Francisco 49ers tied for the league's 13th-most punt returns. The unit finished 14th in average yards per return and 15th in total punt return yardage.
Mediocre best describes San Francisco's effort in that phase of the game. Head coach Kyle Shanahan and general manager John Lynch didn't prioritize the position this offseason, either.
As The Athletic's Matt Barrows noted, the Niners released all four players who handled preseason punt-return duties (Travis Benjamin, Richie James, River Cracaft and Nsimba Webster). Barrows added that Brandon Aiyuk and Mohamed Sanu both practiced with the special teams unit during training camp.
Coaching staffs don't always like to place one of their top receivers back as a returner for fear of potential injury. But in this particular case, Aiyuk may be the best option to add a spark as the 49ers' punt returner.
The Seattle Seahawks are rather lean at wide receiver after their final roster cuts. Well, lean and mean might be a better description of a group that features DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett.
Beyond the team's top two targets, Freddie Swain and 2021 second-round pick D'Wayne Eskridge may be the only two keepers since the team surprised with its release of Penny Hart.
"You can count on him in a lot of ways," head coach Pete Carroll said of Hart during the team's mandatory minicamp. "Running his routes right, knowing the offense, [playing] multiple positions, contributing on special teams, his toughness, the attitude that he is is obvious."
Maybe the Seahawks want another veteran receiver. Or they could be surfing the waiver wire to add another target. Whatever the case, Hart ended up not making the cut despite seeming like a lock for the final 53-man roster.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers can try, but they can't keep every talented player on their roster. So goes the life of the reigning Super Bowl champions.
For the most part, the Buccaneers did an excellent job retaining their top talent. Somehow, general manager Jason Licht worked a near-miracle by bringing Lavonte David, Ndamukong Suh, Shaquil Barrett, Chris Godwin, Antonio Brown, Rob Gronkowski and Leonard Fournette back for another run.
The big names are important, but so are role players.
Tight end Tanner Hudson caught only three passes last season, but he played in 11 games. He's a natural receiver when given the chance.
However, the Buccaneers are loaded at tight end with Gronk, Cameron Brate and the returning O.J. Howard. Hudson became expendable after struggling with his blocking.
A team in need of a receiving threat at tight end (perhaps the New York Jets?) should jump at the opportunity to acquire the 26-year-old.
Fourth-round wide receiver Dez Fitzpatrick becomes the highest-drafted player from this year's class not to make his respective team's Week 1 active roster.
The Tennessee Titans traded fourth-, fifth- and seventh-round picks to obtain the 109th overall selection from the Carolina Panthers and choose the Louisville product.
Tennessee's coaching staff wants a certain mentality from its young players. Fitzpatrick didn't necessarily show those qualities.
"But there were just some other examples last night of finishing or playing when you don’t have the football in your hand that we have a high expectation for our receivers, whether that’s on a screen or somebody else catches the football and you’re trying to do everything you can to get them as most yards as possible," head coach Mike Vrabel said after Tennessee's third preseason contest (h/t Fansided's Geoffrey Knox).
The Titans have taken some legitimate chances with their recent draft choices. Tennessee's investment in Jeffery Simmons paid off handsomely. Isaiah Wilson's selection turned into a disaster. Fitzpatrick falls closer to the latter end of the spectrum, even though he wasn't a first-round choice. The trade up to get him looks awful in retrospect.
Fortunately, Tennessee has Julio Jones and A.J. Brown. The Titans passing game should be just fine.
Washington Football Team
Jimmy Moreland became the Washington Football Team's primary nickel corner after they selected him with a seventh-round pick in the 2019 draft. He held down the spot for the past two seasons, but Washington released him Tuesday, per Ben Standig of The Athletic.
Moreland's release, along with that of safety Jeremy Reaves, signifies the depth Washington has in its secondary.
Safety Kamren Curl and cornerback Kendall Fuller are both capable slot defenders. Fifth-round rookie Darrick Forrest also flourished in that role in college. According to Pro Football Focus, Forrest allowed an impressive 38.3 quarterback rating when covering the slot last season.
Fuller, William Jackson III and third-round rookie Benjamin St-Juste form a talented cornerback trio. Troy Apke is a special teams standout. And Torry McTyer earned a spot after an impressive effort throughout training camp and the preseason.