This year’s biggest surprise NFL cuts
Football fans can now rejoice as the NFL preseason is now over. Which means the start of the regular season is just days away.
While both players and fans are likely thrilled training camp is done, it also means that some players could see their playing career end. As teams were required to get cut their roster down to the league maximum of 53 players.
The good news is that teams had options rather than just releasing a player. The alternatives to players getting cut are being placed on injured reserve, PUP (physically unable to perform) list, and the retired or suspended list. If a player receives one of this designations they will miss a portion of the season. But it could beat the alternative.
Even if a player got waived the past two days (Friday or Saturday) it doesn’t mean that they are through playing pro football. Teams are always adjusting their roster and skimming through the waiver wire. Plus, there is the taxi or practice squad for players who have eligibility.
But the purpose of this article is to look at 10 of the biggest surprises among players that received a pink slip.
WR Corey Coleman, Bills
Buffalo decided to cut ties with the former first-round draft choice of the Cleveland Browns despite not having any better options at the wide receiver position. The Bills obtained Coleman on Aug. 5 for a non-conditional seventh 2020 round draft pick. Meaning that the Browns now own the Bills selection despite the fact that Coleman never officially took the field for the team.
Coleman didn’t pick up the Bills offensive system quickly enough and even needed help lining up in the right spot in the third preseason game. He ended up with three receptions, on six targets, for seven yards during the preseason.
It is a shame that Coleman has yet to figure things out as he is immensely talented and showed flashes at times during his two seasons in Cleveland. For his career, Coleman has 56 receptions for 718 yards (12.8 ypc) along with five touchdowns over 19 games.
With Coleman’s release, Buffalo took a $3.5 dead money hit to their salary cap. Bringing their total to a total of $52 million in dead money this year. The Bills currently have six receivers on their roster, led by Kelvin Benjamin, Zay Jones, and Jeremy Kerley.
P Shane Lechler, Texans
Long-time NFL punter Shane Lechler was cut by the Houston Texans on Aug. 31. The 42-year old was beat out in training camp for the job by undrafted rookie Trevor Daniel. According to Texans coach Bill O’Brien, both guys had a good preseason.
So, the decision apparently came down to Lechler due to make $2 million this upcoming season. Lechler has made seven Pro Bowls during his career.
Besides being the punter, Daniel is expected to take over the placeholding job that Lechler held. Daniel averaged 45.3 yards per punt with a net of 43.1. He also pinned the Texans opponents inside the 20 on four of his 10 punts. 63 yards was his longest punt of the preseason.
WR Breshad Perriman, Ravens
Baltimore Ravens saying goodbye to Perriman is less of a shock than the Bills waiving Coleman. That does not make it any less disappointing.
Getting released gives the nearly 25-year old wide receiver the distinction as the only first round pick that the Ravens have parted ways with before their rookie contract has expired. And there is a good reason for Baltimore go in a different direction.
Perriman has been hampered by injuries and drops throughout his first three seasons. The No. 26 pick in the 2015 draft compiled 43 receptions for just 576 yards (13.4 ypc) and three touchdowns over 27 career games. He never eclipsed 65 receiving yards in any game. And was ranked the worst wide receiver last year by Pro Football Focus, after reeling in just 10 of his 34 targets for 77 yards.
DE Michael Johnson, Bengals
Veteran Michael Johnson surprisingly received a pink slip by the Cincinnati Bengals on Saturday. By releasing the 31-year old defensive end, the Bengals saved $5 million in cap space.
Johnson has spent eight of his nine years in Cincinnati, He has been a starter opposite Carl Dunlap for the last three seasons, registering 13.5 sacks during this period which was third most on the team. Johnson has recorded 44 sacks, eight forced fumbles and three interceptions for his career.
LB/DE John Simon, Colts
The Indianapolis Colts have moved on without edge rusher John Simon despite the fact that he was one of the defensive unit’s best players in the preseason according to the Indy Star.
Simon, who was the Colts best player in 2017, registered 2.5 sacks during the exhibition campaign despite the fact that Indianapolis switched to a 4-3 scheme this offseason. Simon was due $3 million this season.
Last year was the 27-year old’s first season in Indianapolis. He registered 43 tackles, three sacks and one interception in nine contests as at outside linebacker.
DB David Amerson, Chiefs
The Kansas City Chiefs were expecting David Amerson to be part of the solution this offseason in their efforts to replace star corner, Marcus Peters and four other cornerbacks. However, that never came to fruition as Amerson was torched multiple times during each of his three preseason appearances per ESPN.
The Chiefs were hoping that Amerson could revert back to playing like he did in 2015 when he was viewed as a rising star. He played well in 2016 but it became he had some weaknesses in his game. Last year, he was slowed by injuries and was limited to just six appearances where he registered 18 tackles and four passes defensed.
Amerson has eight interceptions, returning two for touchdowns, and 63 passes defensed in his career.
DE Brian Robison, Vikings
In a surprising move, the Minnesota Vikings have moved on from longtime defensive end Brian Robinson. Robinson, who took a $2 million pay cut this offseason, had been with the Vikings since 2007 and took over as a full-time starter in 2011. He fell behind Danielle Hunter on the depth chart, but still recorded four sacks while being on the field 56% of the defensive snaps.
The four sacks were the lowest total for the 35-year old since 2010 when he had just two. Robinson has 289 tackles to go along with 60 quarterback takedowns for his career.
K Dan Bailey, Cowboys
The Dallas Cowboys parted ways with one of the most accurate kickers in the league, Dan Bailey, on Aug. 1. Bailey has made 88.2% of his field goal attempts (186-211) in his seven-year career. Although he was just 15 of 20 (75%) on his attempts and missed his first extra point tries of his career (26-28) in 2017. Last year marked the first time the 30-year-old, who totaled 71 points, failed to reach the 100 point plateau.
The move seems like it was money motivated. Bailey was owed $3.4 million while new kicker Brett Maher is due just $450,000.
Maher has never kicked in a regular season game. He was 2-for-2, which included a 57-yarder, against Houston in Week 4 of the preseason. The 28-year-old has bounced around the CFL, making 78.1% of his field goal attempts.
S Darian Thompson, Giants
The New York Giants will have a new starting free safety after waiving Darian Thompson on cut down day. Thompson started all 16 games for the G-men last year but was bothered by a hamstring injury this preseason. As a result of Thompson’s injury, Curtis Riley leapfrogged Thompson on the depth chart.
If Thompson clears waivers, he will go placed on the Giants injured reserve list as he was designated with an injury distinction. The 2016 third-round selection racked up 75 tackles along with an interception last year. PPF ranked him as the 66th best full-time starting safety in 2017.
G Jonathan Cooper, 49ers
While Jonathan Cooper wasn’t necessarily guaranteed a spot on the San Francisco 49ers 53-man roster, he was given a decent signing bonus to sign with the team this offseason. Injuries this preseason kept him from really competing a starting guard spot. Cooper started 13 games for the Dallas Cowboys in 2017 and was rated as the 35th best guard in the league.
Cooper was selected with the No.7 overall pick in the 2013 draft by the Arizona Cardinals. He spent three seasons with the Cards before bouncing around to New England, Cleveland and Dallas.