Throughout the last four weeks, we’ve been watching our favorite football teams in preseason exhibition games, and on September 7th, the 104th season of the NFL begins. Many rookies have already been named starters, meaning the existing roster has some adjustments to be made—all 32 teams must trim their roster from 90 players to 53. There is something of a safety net, though, as 16 players may be chosen to stay on the practice squad with limitations. These players put in the same work as those on the active roster but aren't able to travel with the team for away games. Some notable names are getting traded, cut, and placed on injured lists. From quarterbacks to cornerbacks, roster cuts know no mercy. Here are some of the biggest moves.
Running back Jonathan Taylor expressed interest in wanting to play for a different team, and the Indianapolis Colts permitted him to seek out a trade. After a week’s worth of offers, the Colts declined each one for not being fair in value. Taylor remains on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list, where he will have to miss at least the first four games of the season. The Colts will have to work with Deon Jackson, Zack Moss, and Evan Hull as their running backs for the start of this season.
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One day before the deadline, the Cardinals released veteran quarterback Colt McCoy, while Kyler Murray is being kept on the PUP list. This leaves the Cardinals with two QB options for Week 1: trade acquisition, Joshua Dobbs or rookie, Clayton Tune. McCoy served as a placeholder during training camp and preseason awaiting Murray’s return from an ACL injury. Murray had surgery in January after tearing his ACL and will be out for the first four games. Either Dobbs or Tune appears to be the starting quarterback candidate, as coach Jonathan Gannon claims Arizona has a “pretty good plan in place.”
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New England Patriots
The Patriots have selected Mac Jones as their quarterback, hanging Malik Cunningham and Bailey Zappe out to dry. Undrafted Cunningham saw some snaps as a QB during preseason but has also been transitioning to a receiver—quite an asset to have on the roster. Zappe also impressed as a rookie, appearing in four games and starting two. The Western Kentucky alum struggled during preseason, which is why he was released. Jones being a lone quarterback does spark some concern, as he was the 11th most sacked QB last season despite missing three games.
Photo courtesy of Jeff Hanisch
New Orleans Saints
In a rather shocking move, the Saints chose to cut veteran cornerback Bradley Roby. Roby was acquired from the Texans back in 2021 four days before the start of the season, so waiting to be picked up by another team isn’t new for him. Starting in 10 games last season, he secured a single interception and 10 passes deflected. Roby saw very little preseason action—like most of the starting lineup—so to abruptly let him go was unusual. In his place, we will likely see Ugo Amadi or Alontae Taylor.
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Veteran running back, Melvin Gordon has seen 108 regular season games in his professional career playing for the Broncos and Chargers, but won’t add to that number with the Ravens. During the preseason, Gordon rushed 17 times for 59 yards— not impressive enough to secure a roster spot. Gordon was likely kept around while J.K. Dobbins remained on the PUP list, but since his removal, Gordon was no longer a necessity. Gus Edwards is a more solid option, as he’s getting more reps after recovering from a torn ACL. Although Gordon didn’t make the cut for the 53-man roster, he may end up on the practice squad if another team decides not to snag him up.
Photo courtesy of Tommy Gilligan
Part of being a professional football player is having thick skin. From taking hit after hit, to being cut from the team, resilience is key and not being offered a roster spot can’t be taken personally. In fact, being cut could set these players up for more success on a different team. Be sure to keep an eye out to see what’s in store for these players next.