NFL teams trimmed their rosters to 53 players on Saturday, meaning they made multiple cuts. Young players were waived, while more experienced ones were released. Either way, the end result was the same: many players are out of jobs, at least for the time being.
There is still a chance for players to be claimed off waivers before final rosters are set, but here’s a look at 15 notable players who failed to make the 53-man roster on cutdown day Saturday.
TJ Ward, S (Broncos)
Ward is a very good player, so it’s understandable why his release did not sit well with some players . The Oregon product recorded 87 tackles, a sack and an interception in 14 games last season. He made three straight Pro Bowls from 2013-2015 and was entering the final season of a four-year, $22.5 million deal. Denver decided they’d rather go with second-year player Justin Simmons and create cap space by cutting Ward, who is sure to be picked up elsewhere. The Pittsburgh Steelers are reported to have interest in him.
Alex Boone, OG (Vikings)
Boone was a major free agent signing by the Vikings a year ago. Minnesota signed the guard to a four-year, $26.8 million deal with expectations he would bolster their line. But he missed a game during the preseason and then had a brace on his knee for practice after that. The Vikings apparently met with Boone asking him to take a pay cut, but the Star Tribune says he refused, leading to his release. Plays like this during the preseason probably left the Vikings unimpressed:
— Rob Lowder (@Rob_Lowder) September 2, 2017
Roberto Aguayo, K (Bears)
Aguayo is experiencing a very difficult month. The second-round pick was waived by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in early August after his 2016 struggles spilled into the team’s first preseason game. Chicago decided to pick him up, but Aguayo missed his only preseason kick with them. His latest release means Aguayo has now been cut twice in less than a month. The pressure and attention clearly overwhelmed Aguayo after Tampa Bay moved up to take him in the second round, leading to his shakiness all last year. He needs to get his mind right if he hopes to rebuild his career.
Matt Jones, RB (Redskins)
Jones was finally waived by Washington on cutdown day following an offseason full of rumors suggesting he was expendable. A third-round pick out of Florida, Jones had 796 total yards and four touchdowns as a rookie. Jones was a favorite of former Washington GM Scot McCloughan, who still believes the running back has tremendous upside, suggesting he’s likely to be picked up elsewhere. Jones should choose his next team wisely scheme-wise to find a better fit than Washington.
Brandon Weeden, QB (Texans)
Weeden fell behind both Deshaun Watson and Tom Savage in the Texans’ quarterback competition, and Houston decided to go with just two QBs on their roster, making Weeden the odd man out. The 33-year-old was 11 of 22 for 60 yards in the preseason. His 56.2 passer rating was the worst among Houston’s QBs in the preseason. Weeden has played in 34 career NFL games, completing 57.9 percent of his passes for 31 touchdowns and 30 interceptions.
Andy Lee, P (Panthers)
Just a year ago Carolina traded a fourth-round pick to Cleveland for Lee, who was a three-time first-team All-Pro player in San Francisco. The Panthers decided to go with Michael Palardy this year at punter and release Lee, saving themselves nearly $2 million against the cap. Lee, 35, averaged 49.1 yards per punt last season and is still a good punter. The Arizona Cardinals are a team that could have interest in adding Lee.
Eric Winston, OL (Bengals)
NFLPA president Eric Winston could be looking for a job — outside the position he holds representing the players. Winston has been with the Bengals the past three seasons and even started two games last year, though he is well past the days when he was a regular 16-game starter at right tackle for the Texans. The 33-year-old was released on Saturday. He is still an option to be brought back by Cincinnati, according to ESPN’s Josina Anderson.
Deon Simon, DT (Jets)
Simon is a solid player along the defensive line and seemed to show well in the preseason, so it’s somewhat of a surprise that he was cut. The former 7th-round pick was viewed as a strong run-stopper last season. The Jets must have confidence in Mike Pennel to replace him. Simon has dreams of becoming a U.S. Marshal after football, but the 27-year-old isn’t close to calling it a career yet. He could end up back on the Jets’ practice squad.
Jeremy Kerley, WR (49ers)
Now this was a surprise. The 49ers signed Jeremy Kerley to a three-year, $10.5 million contract in March following a season where he caught a team-best 64 passes for 667 yards. GM John Lynch said the team liked 5th-round pick Trent Taylor and decided to keep him over Kerley. The Niners’ top receivers entering the season will be Pierre Garcon and Marquise Goodwin. Kerley will probably catch on elsewhere — perhaps his previous team, the Jets?
Akeem Ayers, LB (Colts)
Ayers was once upon a time a fairly big name after being drafted in the second round by the Titans in 2011. His best season came in 2012 when he racked up 102 tackles and six sacks and seemed to be on his way to becoming a solid pro. Even the Rams thought that was the case when they signed him to a two-year deal in 2015 before cutting him after his first season. The 28-year-old had 21 tackles and two sacks last season for the Colts. He’ll likely end up working out for another club or two this season.
Ben Boulware, LB (Panthers)
Boulware was a star in college at Clemson. He was the Defensive MVP of the National Championship Game in January, and he was the winner of the Jack Lambert Award for best college linebacker. Yet Boulware still went undrafted in June before being signed by Carolina. Full of heart and effort, Boulware was waived on Saturday. Charlotte Observer reporter Joe Person believes Boulware will end up on Carolina’s practice squad.
Kellen Moore, QB (Cowboys)
Given how much Jerry Jones has talked up Kellen Moore in the past, it was surprising to see the lefty QB waived on Saturday, unless you were following what happened in the preseason. Moore was beaten out for the Cowboys’ backup quarterback job by undrafted rookie Cooper Rush, who put up big stats in the preseason. Rush completed 74.5 percent of his passes for six touchdowns and 398 yards — all of which were tops on the team. Moore threw for 392 yards, a touchdown and an interception. In three career regular season games, Moore has completed 58.7 percent of his passes for four touchdowns and six interceptions. Rush appears to have a much bigger upside.
Dwight Lowery, S (Chargers)
You knew Dwight Lowery’s job was on the line when he played in the Chargers’ final preseason game. He indeed was cut by the team as they opted to save some money instead. The 31-year-old was signed by the Chargers last year to replace Eric Weddle at safety, and he fared well, racking up 60 tackles and an interception. The younger Tre Boston appears to be their starting safety entering the season.
Quinton Dial, DL (49ers)
Dial has been with the 49ers since they drafted him in 2013 and recorded 126 tackles and 4.5 sacks in his four seasons with the team. The rotational lineman was signed to a three-year deal in March, but he turned out to be a poor scheme fit with the new-look Niners, who are switching to a 4-3 defense. The team informed Dial of his release Saturday. CSN Bay Area’s Matt Maiocco says San Francisco is focusing on replacing Dial with a player who was cut by another team.
Ahtyba Rubin, DL (Seahawks)
Rubin was released on Saturday following two seasons as a starter in Seattle. He had 38 tackles and a sack last season, but he became expendable after Seattle traded for Sheldon Richardson. The Seahawks had signed Rubin to a three-year deal in March prior to his release. The 31-year-old could have interest in returning to Cleveland, where he spent the first seven seasons of his career.
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