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NFL Roster Cuts Looming – What Veterans To Keep Eye On

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The short list of veterans cut in the NFL is only going to rise as teams ready themselves to mandated 53-man roster limit.

Two former first-round picks, Phil Taylor (2011 21st overall) and Trent Richardson (2012 3rd overall) are high-profile names released after the first round of roster cuts. The second round of cuts and the final 53-man roster are due on Saturday and we should see an increase of the list of high-profile former Pro Bowl players looking for new teams.

It is unclear exactly who may find themselves on the street, but we can try to narrow in on those projected candidates.

 

Robert Griffin III, QB, Washington Redskins

It’s a bit outlandish to think the Washington Redskins would simply cut Griffin after his recent benching without looking for compensation first via a trade with another team, but if the Redskins are committed to move on from him regardless of how Kirk Cousins or Colt McCoy performs, then it is still up for debate.

To rule out the idea that the team would feel its better internally (locker room) if Griffin was no longer on the 53-man roster sounds like a legit theory.

Releasing Griffin is not exactly the best maneuver for Washington since he would count for over $6 million on the Redskins salary cap whether he is kept or not. It is something the team could live with if the case eventually plays out this Saturday.

 

Dennis Pitta, TE, Baltimore Ravens

Injuries have kept Pitta from living up to the salary the Ravens are committed to pay with him on the current roster. Reportedly set to earn $4 million this season, Pitta has already been placed on the PUP list meaning he’ll miss at least the first six games of the season.

Missing the six games to begin this season and add in the other 25 games he has missed the previous two years makes Pitta a prime candidate as an eventual roster cut.

Speaking with an NFL Agent who asked to remain anonymous said, “Yes I believe so,” in regards to the Ravens still having the ability to release Pitta under the PUP tag.

“But unfortunately all the internal roster rules are not accessible by the public.”

Baltimore has drafted three tight ends the last two years including the 55th-overall selection in the 2015 NFL Draft, tight end Maxx Williams. Signs are pointing to the Ravens patience running thin on keeping Pitta around.

Darren Sproles, RB, Philadelphia Eagles

It would be a little shocking, but the possibility is fair to assume.

Sproles salary is not monstrous ($3 million) and his versatility makes him a very valuable commodity to have on the roster. He can be a reliable and effective weapon in both the running and passing game as well as on special teams.

What makes him expendable?

Former Oregon Duck running back Kenjon Barner is making a case to make the 53-man roster and it may come at the sacrifice of releasing Sproles. Barner is a younger version of Sproles. He also provides the ability to run, catch, and return the football on special teams.

Barner’s base salary is $515,000 compared to the $3 million due to Sproles. Also remember the large amount of money already put in place with the team signing both DeMarco Murray and Ryan Mathews via free agency this past spring.

Andy Levitre, OG, Tennessee Titans

Cuts are usually because of the ‘Dollars and Sense’ factor.

If you make more than you deserve, then the fingers point in your direction first if the money does not match the performance.

Levitre’s earnings do not equal the play demanded by the Titans, making him a possible roster cut when Tennessee reaches the 53-man limit.

He was paid big money a few years ago after playing like one of the best guards in the game. Since that time, Levitre has been unable to match that level of play and even lost his left guard job to Byron Bell, making the assumption he’ll be released very likely.

Vernon Davis, TE, San Francisco 49ers

Davis enters the final year of his contract, making him a free agent next year. His recent production and salary of over $4 million makes him a possible free agent this Saturday also.

His play fell off the map last season accounting for just 26 catches for 245 yards and two touchdowns. The dramatic drop in production along with age and money put Davis in the pool of names that could see their names being assigned to a pink slip this Saturday.

Davis, the former sixth-overall pick in the 2006 NFL Draft, also has a second-round pick (2013) in Vance McDonald itching to establish himself as the next guy in line in the 49ers offensive scheme at tight end.

McDonald has been unable to remain healthy with constant nagging injuries, but in his limited action he has shown the caliber and level of play to be effective as a starter.


About Bo Marchionte

Bo Marchionte

Bo Marchionte is an NFL writer for Football Insiders and has covered the NFL for over a decade. His background includes being staff for the Texas vs. The Nation All-Star game as a talent evaluator for player personnel along with an internship scouting with the Toronto Argonauts and Winnipeg Blue Bombers for the Canadian Football League. Bo’s draft background includes working for the NFL Draft Bible and currently owns and operates College2Pro.com. He has done radio spots on NBC, Fox Sports and ESPN and their affiliates in different markets around the country. Bo covers the Pittsburgh Steelers and Pittsburgh Panthers along with other colleges in the northeast.