Tracking the 2015 Roster Cut Casualties
The sad day of final cuts is upon us once again, as NFL teams around the league trim their rosters to get down to the 53 players maximum allowed for the regular season. This is a day when teams make the hard decisions that will ultimately decide whether a player lives out his dream, or has to start thinking about a life after football. For many, this may be the last chance at a career in the NFL. For a few, this day marks vindication for a lifetime of hard work and struggle to reach this pinnacle of athletic achievement.
For fantasy owners, final cut day tells a different story. As teams make their final cuts by Saturday afternoon, fans and fantasy owners are treated to a flurry of activity that could make or break a fantasy team. Did you draft the right handcuff? Did your veteran quarterback win the job? Many of these questions will be answered over the next couple of days. Add to that the excitement of the impending NFL regular season, and it’s a good time to be a football fan.
To keep track of all these moves, 4for4.com has you covered! This article will be updated right up until the final cut is made preparing for the 2015 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 also 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.
Hughes and especially Williams got legit playing time last season but was pushed out by Chris Johnson and rookie David Johnson. Thomas became expendable after the Cardinals traded for Matt Barkley, who should be the 3rd QB this season while Arizona evaluated whether he can be a QB of the future.
With these two quarterbacks cut it seems likely that Sean Renfree has won the backup job in Atlanta. Smith has struggled to stay healthy for years and he's still losing that battle.
Baltimore Ravens: DeAndre Carter, WR
In one of the more surprising cuts, veteran running back Fred Jackson was let go, paving the way for rookie Karlos Williams to back up LeSean McCoy. With Wood also cut, Williams will only have to battle Bryce Brown for the job, and he should be considered the handcuff with the highest upside in Buffalo. Simms didn't stand a chance after Cassel was cut to make room for Tyrod Taylor as the starter. The Bills will keep E.J. Manuel as the backup and there was no reason to keep the veteran Cassel on the roster.
The release of Bersin, Boykin, and Presley means that Jerricho Cotchery should continue to get sub-package looks in a Panther offense reeling from the Kelvin Benjamin injury. Todman was brought in to compete at backup RB and as a RS, but was beat out on both accounts. He was quickly snatched up by the Steelers.
Kevin White dodged the IR list for now, but he'll begin the season on the PUP list. The Bears cut a pair of veteran TE's behind starter Martellus Bennett, leaving Zach Miller in play for the backup role.
Cincinnati Bengals: Denarius Moore, WR//Vontaze Burfict, LB (PUP)
It’s been a long drop for Moore, who once looked promising as a Raider, but now can’t find a roster spot on a Bengals team still needing a legit WR2. Mohamed Sanu is in no danger of losing his role as the third receiver with Moore out of the picture. Burfict going to PUP has a big enough impact on IDP leagues that it is worth mentioning. While not really surprising, him being ineligible to play for the first six weeks of the season could make him a steal as a mid-season pickup in league that feature IDP players.
Cleveland Browns: Thad Lewis, QB//Pat Devlin, QB
Lewis was a longshot to earn a starting role in Cleveland, but was the first of the three QB's vying for a spot behind Josh McCown and Johnny Manziel to be let go. Devlin found his way on the cut list as well, and with Shaw going to IR, it seems the Browns will enter the season with two signal callers.
Dallas Cowboys: No Significant Fantasy Cuts
So far, no significant fantasy players have been cut.
Burse was in play as a returner, but the Broncos will stick with Omar Bolden instead. Bibbs' release should mean good things for the health of Ronnie Hillman, and Monte Ball has taken a long tumble to obscurity after being a first or second round fantasy pick only a year ago.
The Lions will go with two quarterbacks this season after releasing Moore, and the recent Timothy Wright trade made red zone target Fauria expendable. Winn looks to be the odd man out with the preseason play of Zach Zenner.
Green Bay Packers: No Significant Fantasy Cuts
So far, no significant fantasy players have been cut.
Bonner and Worthy were in play as possible return men but were beat out by veteran KeShawn Martin. I only included Charles James here because I love Hard Knocks and I'm very upset about him not making the final 53.
Indianapolis Colts: Duron Carter, WR
Carter was battling rookie Phillip Dorsett for a role in the offense and in the return game but lost out.
The Jaguars earlier in the offseason cut Ace Sanders, and now have released Doss, another player vying for a return spot and sub-package role. This is good news for rookie Rashad Greene, who got looks on offense and on special teams in the preseason and showed flashes in a limited role. Johnson seems to be the odd man out in a crowded backfield.
Kansas City Chiefs: Junior Hemmingway, WR//Richard Gordon, TE
Hemmingway had his moments last season and was a somewhat surprising cut. This bodes well for Jason Avant to continue to get sub-package looks. The once promising TE Gordon was outplayed for the backup position behind Travis Kelce by Demetrius Harris.
Cone was vying for a roster spot, but was beat out by younger players with more upside. With Sturgis gone, Andrew Franks becomes the kicker in Miami as an undrafted free agent rookie. Gillislee was outplayed by Damien Williams in a reserve role while Jake Stoneburner wasn't enough for the Dolphins, who kept only two TE's. Freeman and Bethel-Johnson were longshots to make the roster over backup Matt Moore and the Dolphins prefered the upside of Logan Thomas from Arizona over the guys they had in house. Ajayi was a late placement on temporary IR and should be back later in the season.
The Patriots released the once promising Josh Boyce, making it likely that Aaron Dobson will stay on the roster for 2015. The release of Lindley means now that Tom Brady will be eligible for week 1, the Pats will only carry 2 QB's into the regular season. It seems sad that Reggie Wayne may be done, but he failed to make the roster in New England. Gray is the surprising cut, which may open up the backup role for James White. LaFell going to PUP could further open up opportunities for Aaron Dobson.
The release of Toon means good things for second year player Brandon Coleman and veteran Joseph Morgan, and Erik Lorig’s release might mean a hybrid position for the athletic Orson Charles in Sean Payton’s offense. Byrd hasn't yet made an impact after signing a big contract last year because he can't stay healthy. The Saints will have to wait at least another six weeks to see if he has been money well spent.
Getting rid of Hynoski is a surprise, and may mean the Giants will not use a traditional fullback this season. Jones couldn't make it on a crowded WR depth chart, and Robinson still hasn't capitalized on his physical talents and was let go. He was vying for the backup TE spot behind Larry Donnell. Boswell had very little chance of beating out Josh Brown. Washington has been unable to capitalize on his considerable size.
Hakim, and Powell were all in play for a returner spot, while Graham and Posey were trying to for one of the final spots in the offense. These releases may mean good things for the health status of rookie Devin Smith, and Jeremy Kerley should be the main punt returner again. Cutting Flynn and Johnson means good things for rookie Bryce Petty, as it shows the Jets feel comfortable going into the season with him as the main backup behind Ryan Fitzpatrick while Geno Smith's jaw heals. Richardson was a long shot to make the roster, and it's been a long fall for the former Ram into obscurity. Ridley will have to wait at least another six weeks before contending for playing time after being placed on PUP while rehabbing from a torn ACL.
Richardson may be out of chances, and Roy Helu should be the primary handcuff to Latavius Murray now. Holliday’s release clears up a muddy return game situation, while Thompkins was a long shot to beat out Andre Holmes for a roster spot. Ponder couldn't beat out Matt McGloin for the backup job behind Derek Carr.
Tebow looked pretty good in the preseason so it's a small surprise that he didn't make the final roster, but it looks like with the Matt Barkley trade and Tebow gone, the Eagles will go with two quarterbacks. Maehl was crowded out by other young talented receivers on the roster, and Josh Huff's job should be safe.
Pittsburgh Steelers: Josh Harris, RB
Harris was thought to be a guy who would make the roster but the undrafted free agent from last year was let go.
San Diego Chargers: Nick Novak, K
Undrafted rookie and former Texas A&M product Josh Lambo should be the kicker in San Diego with the release of Novak.
San Francisco 49ers: Trey Millard, FB//Corey Acosta, K
Seattle Seahawks: Robert Turbin, RB
Turbin has been the handcuff to Marshawn Lynch the last couple of years, but with the Seahawks signing Fred Jackson this week, Turbin became expendable. This is also likely a sign that Seattle likes what they have in Christine Michael as a long term prospect.
Herron was thought to be a long-term option at the slot position when he was drafted last year but failed to beat out rookie Kenny Bell this year. Fellow rookie Kaelin Clay is a bit of a surprise cut, as the Bucs prefered to keep Louis Murphy. Barth and Murray lost out to undrafted rookie Kyle Brindza for the kicking position.
Boren's departure means rookie Jalston Fowler should start at the fullback position, but he remains a limited fantasy prospect due to his position. Nicks was a longshot to make the roster anyway and may have seen his final chance in the NFL. Ford was in play in the return game, but couldn't beat out Dexter McCluster and the Titans WR depth chart was ultimately too crowded for the former Raider to stick. Cobb could be back later in the season, but he was placed on IR with a designation to return later. This likely prompted the Titans to trade for Terrance West, who muddies the waters at the RB spot in Tennessee.
Washington Redskins: Ty Long, K
Kai Forbath won the camp battle in Washington and should remain the kicker with Long out of the way.