Tracking the 2014 Roster Cut Casualties
It’s hard to imagine a day on the NFL calendar with a larger discrepancy between fan and team reaction than Final Cut Day. While it’s easy to understand the disparate passion between the Super Bowl winner and loser, it’s quite another thing to try to grasp the joy that NFL wonks experience during league transactions, while teams reduce their rosters to the final 53 spots heading into the season. For players in the NFL, dreams are crushed and hearts are broken during this time of year.
For fantasy owners, it’s a whole other world. Final cuts often result in very little fanfare, and most teams won’t be releasing players that make a big immediate impact on the team and depth chart dynamics that heavily influence fantasy sports. However, many of the moves will have rippling affects, as depth charts are shortened, camp competitions come to a final conclusion, and released players are scooped up by other teams with more pressing positional needs.
With the season drawing near, and final cut day looming, 4for4.com has you covered! This article will be updated right up until the final cuts are made preparing for the 2014 NFL season, so check in before your fantasy drafts for any potentially impactful transactions. The below team-by-team brief analysis is not meant to be comprehensive, but will highlight any fantasy relevant moves made as teams trim rosters down to 53 players.
Additionally, players placed on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list and placed on injured reserve (IR) during final cuts will be noted. IR designation usually means the players’ season is done. Game over. Meanwhile, PUP makes the player ineligible to play for the first six weeks of the season.
On August 26th, teams reduced rosters from 90 to 75. By 4PM EST Saturday, August 30th, teams are required to cut down to final 53-man rosters.
Chandler Catanzaro takes over for the veteran Feely, and the undrafted rookie from Clemson becomes a top 20 kicker for the sleeper Cardinals. Lindley wasn’t really expected to beat out rookie Logan Thomas for the QB3 spot.
Atlanta Falcons: Jeff Mathews, QB//Mickey Shuler, TE
Thad Lewis and Jeff Tuel both started games for Buffalo last year, but will be replaced by the newly signed veteran Kyle Orton as the backup behind E.J. Manuel. The release of Rodriquez means Frank Summers will remain the starting fullback. Graham and Roosevelt were both were beat out by Chris Hogan for the last WR spot in Buffalo.
Underwood’s release came as a bit of a surprise on a receiver-needy Panthers team. His release, along with the other receivers mentioned above spell good things for youngster Philly Brown to make the team as a RS and reserve WR.
Green-Ellis, affectionately known as The Law Firm being released means rookie Jeremy Hill is in line for a lot more touches as the complimentary back. His value shoots up with a less crowded depth chart. Mike Nugent survives another round of roster cuts and will remain the Bengals kicker. Ryan Whalen was thought to maybe challenge for the last WR spot on the roster, but Dane Sanzebacher stays. Charles just hasn't panned out like Cincy hoped, and Tyler Eifert and Jermaine Gresham may see the field a lot in 2TE sets. Rookie McCaron was the main competion for Jason Campbell as the backup QB, but will redshirt his first season on Non-Football Injured Reserve.
The release of Anthony Armstrong means Cleveland is content for now with Travis Benjamin and Andrew Hawkins, who will compete for the WR3 spot and the right to replace Miles Austin when his hamstrings act up. Baker had a role last year, but with Ben Tate and rookie Terrance West in the mix, he was the odd man out. Lewis and Ogbannaya surprisingly lost out to undrafted rookie Isaiah Crowell as the third back behind Tate and West.
The Cowboys must have seen enough of Brandon Weedon to believe he can be the backup in Big D. Hanie was his main competition. Likewise, Joseph Randle has beat out Williams and Tanner for the RB3 job behind DeMarco Murray and Lance Dunbar.
Denver Broncos: Jordan Norwood, WR (IR)
Norwood wasn’t likely to get a lot of looks anyway, but the youngster saw his season end early when Denver placed him on IR getting down to 75 players.
Rookie Nate Freese out of Boston College has won the kicking job in Detroit, and in such a high scoring offense should be considered a top 15 option at the kicker position. LeShoure has been on the bubble for a year now and he'll hope to catch on elsewhere, but with he and Winn both out of the way, Theo Riddick will be the RB3. Durham has been a spot starter in the past, but with Golden Tate around, the Lions are banking on Kevin Ogletree to be the primary WR3 in Detroit.
Green Bay Packers: Jared Abbrederis, WR (IR)
Rookie Abbrederis was hurt weeks ago, but was finally place on IR in the cut down to 75 players last Tuesday.
Boswell's release means Randy Bullock will keep his job, but he's still a risky fantasy proposition in Houston's offense. Thomas was released after the Texans signed Damaris Johnson. Johnson will compete on the back end of the roster, and possibly in the return game.
Ballard tore his ACL in July, but Karim had a shot at the KR job before both were placed on IR last Tuesday.
Barden, Taylor and Shaw were vying for the final couple of roster spots at the WR position in Jacksonville, but were clearly beaten out by Allen Hurns. Brewster had the inside track on the starting Center position, which means releasing him does nothing to squash concerns about that position after years of stability with the retired Brad Meester. Morris and Stanzi getting cut means Jacksonville will go into the season with only two QB’s on the roster. Redfern's release means Josh Scobee will maintain his role as the main kicker.
The release of Thomas and Thigpen combined with Mike Gillislee going to IR means Damien Williams has won the job as the RB3 and the RS. Binns and Egnew were both players expected to make the roster, but haven’t been able to put it together, and the release of Binns means slot receiver Rishard Matthews should stay in the Dolphins employ. Rookie Arthur Lynch was expected to be a blocker, but with his season over, undrafted rookie Gator Hoskins has a chance to make the final 53.
The Vikings were looking for someone to emerge as a backup behind Kyle Rudolph. With these three TE's released, Rhett Ellison will likely be the main backup TE in Minnesota. Rookie converted QB Jerrick McKinnon has won the 3rd string RB job over the released Banyard.
Gaffney going to IR is no surprise, as the Patriots grabbed the Stanford rookie off waivers from Carolina with this in mind after he tore his meniscus in July. Boyce and Gallon were set to play a role in the return game, but the WR depth chart was too long for the Pats to keep them on. Look for them to be rostered elsewhere this season.
Former Giant Travis Beckum was battling for the TE2 spot on the roster. His release means Ben Watson stays fantasy relevant, but is still not worth drafting. Graham becomes another one of several veteran kickers on the chopping block this weekend, and with the Saints walso cutting Dimke, they'll likely pick up one of the other veterans that have been cut. Whoever ends up being the kicker for the Saints should be added in all leagues due to the high powered New Orleans offense. Meachem was no longer needed with the addition of Brandin Cooks, and Nick Toon should be the WR4 for the Saints this year. Greg Jones getting cut means Erik Lorig will likely be the main full back for the Saints.
35 year old Josh Brown remains the kicker in New York, and McManus was traded for a conditional pick to Denver to replace the suspended Matt Prater while he’s out the first four games of the season. Holliday was set to be the main RS, but will now likely be replaced by Jerrel Jernigan or Rueben Randle as a PR. Manningham's injury is sad for a guy who hasn't been able to stay healthy. Jernigan stands to gain playing time in the offense for Manningham. Davis had a chance to win a job at TE, but was beaten out by the younger Adrian Robinson. None of the Giants TE's have distinguished themselves yet, but someone will likely become fantasy relevant as the season progresses. Cox filled in sparingly last season, but the Giants chose to keep Peyton Hillis around instead.
Rookie Jalen Saunders will likely be a primary PR and Saalim Hakim will be in play as the KR with Jacoby Ford out of the way, and both players will be given a look at the WR3 position now that Hill and Gates are gone. Richardson and Green being cut comes as no surprise, with the Jets already three deep at RB between Chris Johnson, Chris Ivory, and Bilal Powell.
Barner and Tucker were only vying for a RB4 spot anyway, but Barner's release means the Panthers won't get the conditional 7th round pick the Eagles traded for the former Oregon running back. Henery's release is a bit of a surprise, but it means Cody Parkey becomes the Eagles' kicker and is a top 15 fantasy option with Philly's potent offense. Benn will be familiar with IR, having spent 2013 in the same situation. It looks like for now, with Johnson and Benn out of the way, WR Jeff Maehl has secured a roster spot.
The release of Williams means Marion Grice showed enough to the coaches that he’s worth a spot as the fourth string back. Brown was everyone's favorite breakout candidate last year, but buried on the depth chart and oft-injured, he was let go by the Chargers.
San Francisco 49ers: Devon Wylie, WR
Terrelle Pryor was expected to challenge for the backup position in Seattle, but with him out of the way, the Seahawks will stick with veteran Tarvaris Jackson as the primary backup QB. With Small and Ware out of the picture, Derrick Coleman will get a chance to be a productive fullback.
St. Louis Rams: Justin Veltung, RS
Veltung was set to be the backup punt returner, but he was released from a crowded depth chart of young upside receivers.
Eric Page’s departure means the Bucs will have a new return specialist and with Dawson, Patton and Streeter out of the way, Bobby Rainey and rookie Robert Herron will have a shot to contribute in the return game. It looks like Patrick Murray beat out Barth for the kicking job, but on a Bucs team with some questions, there’s no reason to think he’ll become a top fantasy option. Demps, a former track star, also was let go. Presumably Mike James will remain the third RB in Tampa.
Marc Mariani was in play for a job as a reserve RS, but never really had a shot. Bonani was beat out by Travis Coons for the kicking job, but Coons is not expected to be worth drafting with an unpredictable Titans offense.
It looks Silas Redd will be the RB3 for Washington this year, backing up Alfred Morris and Roy Helu. Seastrunk is a rookie who could get picked up elsewhere. Kai Forbath will hang on to his job at the kicker position with Hocker out of the picture.