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Top Free Agents After Final Cuts

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Today is one of the grimmest days on the football calendar as a huge chunk of the league got their walking papers from their respective teams today. Some of these players will be claimed by other teams and others will find themselves on a team’s practice squad; however, it does not hide the fact that a lot of players have played their final football game.

Also, just because these players are waived it doesn’t mean that their football careers are over. There have been numerous players that have been cut on one or multiple occasions only to become star players are key contributors in the NFL. Sometimes this is because they didn’t fit the team’s scheme or maybe they needed a rude awakening to get them to reach their potential. Whatever the case, good players were released Saturday and some teams will be able to take advantage and improve their teams because of it.

Without further ado, let’s take a look at the top free agents after the final cuts.

Ben Gardner, Defensive End

The Dallas Cowboys revamped defensive line left little space for a young defensive end to make the squad. Nevertheless, that doesn’t mean Ben Gardner isn’t a player who can contribute to someone this year. The Cowboys likely waived him with the hopes of bringing him back to the practice squad, but a team would be wise to put in a claim. Gardner has the position flex to play inside at the under tackle or outside at defensive. He is a strong and stout defensive end who is a good run defender.

Ben Koyack, Tight End

Ben Koyack is a throw back tight end who does great work as a blocker. He needs to develop skills in the passing game as he doesn’t have a good feel for where to sit down in his routes, but he could contribute as a special teams players and a primarily blocking tight end. Koyack would be a nice low-risk waiver claim who could fill a niche for some team in the NFL.

Taiwan Jones, Linebacker

The New York jets made the surprising move to waive linebacker Taiwan Jones on Saturday. Jones had showed up well in the preseason as a hard hitting linebacker who plays downhill. Furthermore, Jones even showed some ability in coverage, an area he struggled with in college. Jones looks to be a player who could be a special teams demon as he develops into a starting-caliber linebacker. It wouldn’t be surprising if someone put a claim on this promising young linebacker.

Jason Babin, Edge Defender

Jason Babin has bounced around a lot of teams in the past few years, but at every stop he has proven himself capable of being a solid contributor to his team; however, each place he goes decides to stay with the younger and cheaper option. Babin is an extremely solid edge defender who can provide a little bit of pass rush and play well against the run. Babin could be a very good rotational defensive end or outside linebacker for someone in the NFL.

Raheem Mostert, Running Back

A player who burst onto the scene this preseason was Raheem Mostert. He led the NFL in scrimmage yards, was fifth in rushing yards and fourth in receiving yards. He is an extremely athletic running back with all the physical attributes you want. He can make an impact on special teams and it would be surprising if no one put in a claim for the young running back.

Antone Smith, Running Back

Injuries didn’t help, but it was very surprising to see the Atlanta Falcons release running back Antone Smith. At times last year, Smith was the only big-play threat the Falcons could count on. He is jitterbug running back who can make an impact as a rusher and receiver. Any team that is looking for a spark plug on offense would be smart to put a claim in on Smith.

Duron Carter, Wide Receiver

Coming out of the Candian Football League, Duron Carter appeared to be ready to make an impact for the NFL. He showed the ability to run precise routes to go along with his reliable hands; however, there have always been questions about his work ethic. With his release from the Indianapolis Colts, it leaves the door open for another team to cash in on Carter’s immense potential.

Vince Mayle, Wide Receiver

Vince Mayle was a fourth-round pick in the 2015 NFL draft, which makes it a huge surprise that he was cut by the Cleveland Browns. You can expect for some team to put a claim in on Mayle just because of his draft pedigree. Mayle showcased reliable hands and good route-running in college, but he will need to adjust his game to the NFL better for his new team.

Henry Hynoski, Fullback

Henry Hynoski has been one of the better fullbacks in the NFL for the past few years and he can definitely make an impact for a team that utilizes the fullback in their offense. Hynoski is a stout blocker who can scoop linebackers out of the hole. Furthermore, Hynoski has the ability to be a weapon in the short passing game for an offense willing to use him.

Jonas Gray, New England Patriots

It’s been a long fall for Jonas Gray since he rushed for four touchdowns in last year’s playoffs as he was cut by the New England Patriots on Saturday. Still, Gray has the ability to make an impact in a team that utilizes a running back by committee. He probably shouldn’t be a player who you rely on every week, but Gray can be a valuable cog for an offense.

Cap Capi, Defensive End

One of the more surprising performances of the preseason was how well defensive end Cap Capi played for the Jacksonville Jaguars. He was tied for third in sacks during this preseason, per Pro Football Focus, with three. he proved that he has the potential to provide a constant pass rush in the NFL. All he has to do is clean up some of his fundamentals and he could be a very good pass-rush specialist in the NFL. Pass-rushing talent doesn’t become available very often, so don’t expect Capi to be on the street for too long.


About John Owning

John Owning

John Owning is a NFL columnist for Football Insiders. He has years of experience covering the NFL, NFL draft and NCAA football. John's work has been featured on the Bleacher Report and DraftBreakdown.com