The NFL is a young man’s league, and several veterans found that out once again on Saturday. Past performance isn’t always indicative of future employment.
Arguably, the biggest surprise among the Vikings’ cuts to a 53-man roster was veteran defensive tackle Fred Evans
. He was thought to be a better potential fit as a backup nose tackle behind Linval Joseph
and possesses the ability to play both D-tackle positions. But, whether it was that Evans wasn’t an ideal scheme fit, that the defensive line rotation has consistently moved players like Brian Robison
and Everson Griffen
inside on passing downs or an endorsement of rookie Shamar Stephen
, Evans was a veteran who knew last spring he would be fighting for a job, but wasn’t able to win a roster spot.
Evans was far from alone. Several other high-profile players were on the 53-man chopping block around the league. The list included DT Isaac Sopoaga
(Arizona), P Brian Moorman (Buffalo), CB Kelvin Hayden
(Chicago), S M.D. Jennings
(Chicago), RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis
(Cincinnati), S Danieal Manning
(Cincinnati), RB Chris Ogbonnaya
(Cleveland), CB Leon McFadden
(Cleveland), RB Mikel Leshoure
(Detroit), WR Kris Durham
(Detroit), LB Quentin Groves
(Houston), K Ryan Succop
(Kansas City), RB Daniel Thomas
(Miami), DT Jerel Worthy
(New England), WR Josh Boyce
(New England), CB Champ Bailey
(New Orleans), K Shayne Graham
(New Orleans), WR Robert Meachem (New Orleans), DE Israel Idonije (New York Giants), WR Stephen Hill
(New York Jets), QB Tajh Boyd
(New York Jets), CB Dimitri Patterson
(New York Jets), K Alex Henery
(Philadelphia), TE David Paulson
(Pittsburgh), WR Vincent Brown
(San Diego), WR Kassim Osgood
(San Francisco), OL Adam Snyder
(San Francisco), QB Terrelle Pryor
(Seattle), OT Eric Winston (Seattle), DE Michael Sam (St. Louis), K Connor Barth
(Tampa Bay) and S Major Wright (Tampa Bay).
There were also some former Vikings in new places that didn’t make the cut, including TE Mickey Shuler (Atlanta), CB Derek Cox
(Baltimore), WR Nate Burleson (Cleveland) and DE D’Aundre Reed (Miami).
While the numbers aren’t hard and firm because of injury designations and the start of league-mandated suspensions, more than 700 players lost their jobs Saturday. Some will return. Some will reclaim their careers and become the feel-good stories years from now. For most of them, however, it may be the end of the line.
Most of the names weren’t familiar to casual fans, but a lot of lives are changing today – some for the better for those who find out they still have an opportunity in the NFL and some for finality.
It can be argued Saturday was the worst day of the 2014 NFL season. It seems ironic that on a holiday weekend celebrating the workforce of America, it’s celebrated as an annual blood-letting of players takes place in the NFL.
53-MAN ROSTER CUTDOWN NOTES
A total of 320 players without jobs this morning will have them by this afternoon. Teams will be filling out their practice squads today, which, thanks to a rules change by the NFL, will include 64 more players as the practice squad limit increases from eight to 10 players per team.
One of the more interesting players to watch when teams start looking to sign players will be Rams DE Michael Sam. A draft weekend front page story for being the first openly gay player to be drafted, Sam was the lowest drafted SEC Defensive Player of the Year since they started handing out the award. The question now: While the NFL talks a good game about being open to gay players, will a team sign Sam off the waiver wire?
Look for Houston to be busy today. Because of the Texans’ last-place finish in the NFL with a 2-14 record, they priority on the waiver wire for claiming players. If any other team puts in a claim on a player, if Houston claims the same player, they get him every time. The Vikings are eighth in the pecking order if they want to make a claim on a released player.
The growing sentiment among some teams has been to keep just two quarterbacks on their 53-man roster. Denver did it, cutting Zac Dystert to keep just Peyton Manning and Brock Osweiler on the active roster. The Jets only have two QBs on their roster as well, unproven Geno Smith and oft-injured Michael Vick. So does Buffalo, with starter E.J. Manuel and recently-signed Kyle Orton. So does Cincinnati (Andy Dalton and Jason Campbell).
The Patriots kept three QBs, but they may not have them for long. There is a lot of buzz that a couple of teams are expressing an interest in Ryan Mallet, who is mired behind Tom Brady and rookie Jimmy Garoppolo on the depth chart.
Alan Herman, the agent for Jets wide receiver Stephen Hill, a blazing speedster with a raw skill set when he was a second-round draft pick in 2012, went public by blasting the Jets for his release. Herman claimed everything from the “Tim Tebow-Mark Sanchez fiasco” to the offensive scheme sabotaged his client. Time will tell if the 31 other teams have an interest in his client.
The release of CB Derek Cox by the Ravens may not be the last we hear from him. Word out of Baltimore is that the cut was “procedural” and he could be re-signed as soon as today. Whether it comes sooner or later, the Ravens apparently have plans for Cox in 2014.
The clock has officially started ticking until Champ Bailey is eligible for first-ballot Hall of Fame induction. Seeing as he was a 12-time Pro Bowl player during his career, his wait to make a speech in Canton will come five years from now.
John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.