NFL Cuts 2021: Predicting Big-Name Releases and Ideal Fits for New Homes

Kristopher Knox@@kris_knoxFeatured ColumnistAugust 31, 2021

NFL Cuts 2021: Predicting Big-Name Releases and Ideal Fits for New Homes

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    It's cutdown day in the NFL, as teams must trim rosters to 53 players by 4 p.m. on Tuesday. This means, of course, that many quality players are about to be out of work.

    Some of these players will be well-known. The Detroit Lions, for example, recently parted with wide receiver Breshad Perriman. Perriman was a first-round pick of the Baltimore Ravens in 2015 and was one of Detroit's more notable free-agent signings. The Jacksonville Jaguars traded 2020 starting quarterback Gardner Minshew II to trim a roster spot and make way for rookie No. 1 pick Trevor Lawrence.

    More notable names are likely to be on the move in the coming hours, and we're here to make a few predictions. We'll make our predictions for some noteworthy players who could be released and/or traded while picking some potential landing spots for them.

Taven ?Bryan, DT, Jacksonville Jaguars

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    Like Perriman, Taven Bryan is a former first-round pick. The Jacksonville Jaguars took the Florida product 29th overall in the 2018 draft, hoping that he could be a centerpiece defensive tackle.

    Unfortunately, Bryan has mostly underwhelmed. While he has appeared in 48 games since being drafted, he has only started 17. He has produced 71 total tackles but only 3.5 sacks and 11 tackles for loss. This is not the sort of production Jacksonville expected to get out of a first-round pick, and the Jaguars have already declined his fifth-year option.

    This offseason, Bryan missed a chunk of time on the non-football injury list and was on the reserve/COVID-19 list early in camp.

    Head coach Urban Meyer has no ties to Bryan, and the Jaguars have spent capital at the defensive tackle position—signing Roy Robertson-Harris, trading for Malcom Brown and drafting Jay Tufele.

    While Jacksonville may not have a place for Bryan, a team like the Cleveland Browns might. Cleveland has taken fliers on former first-round defenders Jadeveon Clowney and Takkarist McKinley this offseason and could further address its defensive front by taking a flier on Bryan.

    Ideal Landing Spots: Cleveland Browns, Green Bay Packers

Jaylon Smith, LB, Dallas Cowboys

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    LM Otero/Associated Press

    Dallas Cowboys linebacker Jaylon Smith isn't a former first-round pick, but he was a second-rounder in 2016. He's also been a productive tackler as a pro, logging 498 total tackles. However, he's also been a liability in coverage, allowing a quarterback rating of at least 102.0 in coverage each season.

    Smith hasn't looked good in preseason action either, while rookie first-round pick Micah Parsons has been a star. Smith isn't a core special teamer either—he played less than 20 percent of special teams snaps in each of his four campaigns—which diminishes his value as a backup.

    Unfortunately, Smith is no longer worth his hefty six-year, $68.4 million contract.

    "I think there is a very slight chance he is on the roster in 2022 and a greater-than-zero chance he is not on the roster in 2021," The Athletic's Bob Sturm wrote. "... I see some major issues with his ability to do his job and the money has already been spent. He cannot play special teams for the same reasons he cannot play linebacker at a high enough level."

    Dallas may look to trade Smith before releasing him, but parting ways makes sense. Adding Smith would make sense for a team like the Cincinnati Bengals, who ranked 28th in run defense last season.

    Ideal Fits: Cincinnati Bengals, Jacksonville Jaguars

Trevor Siemian, QB, New Orleans Saints

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    Derick Hingle/Associated Press

    Experienced quarterbacks are always in demand, and Trevor Siemian has 25 starts on his NFL resume. However, the New Orleans Saints probably don't have a place for him on the final 53-man roster.

    New Orleans recently named Jameis Winston the Week 1 starter. This leaves Taysom Hill as the backup and utility option. Rookie fourth-round pick Ian Book is likely to stick as the team's third quarterback.

    "All signs have pointed Book's way as the Saints' third quarterback heading into the season. Saturday was another indication of that movement," The Athletic's Larry Holder wrote.

    Keeping Siemian doesn't make sense for the Saints. Adding him could make sense for a team like the New York Jets, however. New York is poised to start rookie No. 2 pick Zach Wilson at quarterback in Week 1. Yet, the only experienced veteran on the roster is Josh Johnson, who has only eight NFL starts under his belt.

    Siemian could also make sense for Dallas, which lost veteran backup Andy Dalton in free agency. Dak Prescott is expected to be ready for Week 1 but he's recovering from last year's broken and dislocated ankle and has been dealing with a shoulder injury.

    Ideal Fits: New York Jets, Dallas Cowboys