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6

Cut Day Surprises

by J.B. Scott on Sep. 6, 2010
This year's cut day was one of the more intriguing ones with many high profile draft picks getting cut. Although many of the players will likely be signed to the team's practice squad, they are taking a risk by releasing them and allowing another team to scoop them up. (Practice Squad players are not protected by their respective teams, and can be signed to the active roster of any other team.) It seems a lot of teams are willing to take that risk this year, so that they can release them from expensive rookie contracts, and use that money for other players. Also knowing that a lot of quality players are going to be released, the teams know that there are a lot of options to take the place of their players if they can't sign them to the practice squad. It also doesn't help that a lot of teams are only holding 2 QB's on their roster, such as Green Bay, Jacksonville, New England, New Orleans, NY Giants, Seattle

Teams seem to be continuing the theme from the draft which is, win this year. Knowing there is likely to be a lockout next year, teams are getting rid of players that they can not wait on anymore and it has led to some surprise cuts from each team:

TeamPlayerDraftedAnalysis
ArizonaMatt Leinart2006: 1st Rd (10)

When Matt Leinart was drafted in 2006 after being arguably the top college passer the year before at USC, he was expected to beat out Kurt Warner and be Arizona's starting qb for as long as his arm would survive. After sitting his first 3 games behind Warner, he took over the starting role and had a somewhat average season for a 1st round rookie qb, throwing for 2500 yards, 11tds and 12ints and winning 4 out of 12 games. The following season, Leinart was named the starting quarterback for the first 2 games, before being pulled in the 4th quarter of the 3rd game in favor of Warner. Warner took a baseball closer-like role for the next two games coming to play in the 4th quarter to finish out the games, before Leinart broke his collarbone and was out for the rest of the season. It was this though where Leinart's career might have ended. When a quarterback starts an entire game and then gets pulled in the 4th quarter, it is clear that the team does not have confidence in him. In 2008 even though Leinart was named the starter before the season, Warner took over full-time the following 2008 season and led them to a 9-7 record and a Super Bowl berth. Looking to fill Warner's superior skills and leadership, and knowing that Leinart had already had his chance and failed, his teammates and coaches knew he wasn't the answer for them anymore and opted for a fresh start.

Status: Signed by Houston

AtlantaChevis Jackson2008: 3rd Rd (68)Chevis Jackson came to the Falcons from LSU without much fanfare, but did well in his first two years, playing nickel and helping to make a somewhat weak secondary respectable. After signing Dunta Robinson, it was expected that Chevis would be able to provide some great depth to a now strong unit. However, Jackson's game was fairly one-dimensional, and he was not being great in man-to-man coverage, so with Brent Grimes, Chris Owens, and the drafting of Dominique Franks, he was deemed expendable.
BaltimoreTroy Smith2007: 5th Rd (174)After earning the starting role in the preseason two years ago, Troy Smith got hurt right before the season and unwillingly relinquished the position to rookie Joe Flacco, who never gave it back. Thinking he should still be a starter, Smith demanded a trade, yet no team was willing to give up enough to get him or let alone offer him a starting spot. Now he got his wish, but without a salary. With Baltimore signing Marc Bulger, the Ravens either found him expendable or he just did not want to stick around without a chance to compete at starter. Smith will likely find a team that can utilize his speed in a dual role, but unfortunately he will probably not be getting that starting role he is thriving for just yet.

Status: Signed with San Francisco

BuffaloJames Hardy2008: 2nd Rd (41)James Hardy was expected to be a big time red-zone target for the Bills after catching 36 tds in only 3 seasons at Indiana University. Unfortunately, injuries got the best of him, and kept him from truly developing as a red-zone threat at the next level. With new management in town, they were able to evaluate him without any biases and felt he would not be a player of impact for them. However, with Buffalo needing all the help it can get at wide receiver, it might have made more sense for them to hold on to him for one more season.
CarolinaCorvey Irvin2009: 3rd Rd (93)

Ever since Kris Jenkins left, Carolina has had a tough time getting to that level of productivity with their defensive tackles. Last year they took a chance reaching for a still raw Corvey Irvin in the 3rd round, who had a productive season at Georgia in his only season starting at a big time program. However, Irvin did little to impress in his one year at Carolina, and this preseason the other guys just did a little more. If you believed in a relatively inexperienced guy enough to draft him in the third round, you would probably believe that it might take a few seasons for him to truly develop and maximize his potential. Yet to be a defensive tackle in this league it takes will power day after day to relentlessly sacrifice your body, and coaches are going to choose the ones most willing to make that sacrifice.

Status: Signed to Practice Squad

ChicagoJarron Gilbert2009: 3rd Rd (68)

Jarron Gilbert was a video sensation when he jumped straight out of a pool onto the concrete. It is hard enough for a track star to pull off that feat, but for a 6'5" 280 pound defensive tackle, one would think a near impossibility. However, scouts saw that video and it took this late-round talent and catapulted him up the draft boards. The success of a defensive tackle comes from being able to push a pile, absorb major hits from linemen and running backs, and adapt to different blocking schemes, none of which Gilbert showed enough of. With an obvious raw talent like Gilbert, its another situation where a team may want to take more than one year to try to develop a player they drafted so high...unless of course the video was fake.


Status: Signed by NY Jets

CincinnatiChase Coffman2009: 3rd Rd (98)

Coffman came to a Cincinnati team in the 2009 draft that was in desperate need of a tight end. After a great career at Missouri, it looked like he would be the answer. Yet he adjusted slowly and then got hurt before he even had a chance to prove anything. The next year the Bengals drafted Jermaine Gresham, and that was it for Coffman. With Gresham coming off of a major injury though, the Bengals might have wanted to hold on to their talented insurance policy. With the two healthy together though, combined with their talent at wide receiver, they could have offered some packages to defenses that would be near impossible to stop.

Status: Signed to Practice Squad

ClevelandClifton Geathers2010: 6th Rd (186)

When Clifton Geathers was drafted, it was expected that at his tremendous size he would be able to fill a role on their 3-4 defensive line. Yet he was young, underdeveloped and clearly came out too early, which made him a liability for the Cleveland defense. It was obvious he would need time to develop though, so Cleveland is taking a risk by not holding a roster spot for him.

Status: Signed by Miami

DallasJamar Wall2010: 6th Rd (196)

It was a surprise that Dallas drafted Wall, but also a good value pick after a successful career at Texas Tech, so it was a surprise that they cut him. It was thought that they drafted him with the notion that he could compete with Scandrick for the 3rd or 4th spot behind Newman, and Jenkins, which with his skill level should not have been too difficult a challenge. Wall did relatively well in the limited time he received during preseason, but it was the one touchdown pass that he let up that might have been the cord cutter. So the Cowboys decided to only keep 3 cornerbacks, and that could be detrimental during the season.

Status: Signed by Houston

DenverJarvis Green2002: 4th Rd (126)When Denver signed Jarvis Green to a 4-year $20 million deal, it was a heralded move thinking it would solidify a weak defensive front, and give them much experience and leadership. However, Green had never started for an entire season and was also coming off a poor 2009 season, which was hurt by a knee injury. The intentions of the signing might have been good, pairing him with newly signed Jamal Williams and Justin Bannan, but unfortunately the execution was not.
DetroitCaleb Campbell2008: 7th Rd (218)When Caleb Campbell was drafted he was fulfilling a life long dream. A short time later that dream was taken away by the army, and he had to wait 2 full years to try to fulfill it again. Unfortunately for him, that dream was short lived. With his presumed strength and leadership ability developed from the army, as well as his versatility in being able to play safety or linebacker, he might have been a valuable asset to have throughout a season, especially if times get hard.
Green BayGraham Harrell2009: Undrafted

Graham Harrell was one of the most productive college quarterbacks in history, yet he couldn't get much of a sniff from the NFL. This year he had his chance with the Green Bay Packers, and seemingly did well enough to be the third qb on the roster especially since they had no one else in for the position. Given the amount that Green Bay is expected to throw the ball this year, he might have been a good candidate to come in and provide some relief in practice, yet evidently it was not enough. Despite his deficiencies, he still has the ability to find the open receiver, and with some time to develop and maybe the right system, he could once again have an impact for a team.

Status: Signed to Practice Squad

HoustonKris Brown1999: 7th Rd (228)Kris Brown came to the Texans in 2002 when the team was formed. He was their first and only kicker throughout their entire existence and performed very well for them in his 8 seasons, including setting a record for hitting 3 field goals in one game of over 54 yards. Last year was not his greatest season though, and after a key miss to Indianapolis that led to a loss, Houston thought it was time to bring in some competition in Neil Rackers. Rackers is around the same in terms of age and experience, so it was a real close battle with Rackers winning out because of his apparent strength at kickoff. After finishing just out of the playoffs the past few years, the Texans obviously thought it was time for some new blood.
IndianapolisTom Brandstater2009-6th Rd (174)

Even though the Colts did not draft Brandstater they signed him this year to see if he could land a backup qb role. With Curtis Painter not finishing the season strong last year, and having a very poor preseason, it would make sense for the Colts to be looking for someone else to step up. Brandstater did just that this preseason, going 8/12 in his first real game action, and then going 10/18 and throwing 3 tds in their final preseason game. It looked like the Colts might have found their backup to Peyton Manning, and then they let him go.

Status: Signed to Practice Squad

JacksonvilleTroy Williamson2005: 1st Rd (7)When Williamson was drafted 7th overall by Minnesota, he was supposed to be their next Randy Moss. The only problem was, he wasn't even close, and his only true definable skill was his speed. When he was traded to Jacksonville it was hoped that a new system might help to reinvent Williamson and take advantage of his talent. Unfortunately that was not the case and after catching 8 total passes in 2 years, he was released. The surprise lies more with the player not being able to make anything out of the numerous opportunities he was given.
Kansas CityDaJuan Morgan2008: 3rd Rd (82)After the draft, safety seemed as if it would be a position of force for the Chiefs. They drafted Eric Berry and Kendrick Lewis, had standout Jarrad Page, and had DaJuan Morgan back there still developing nicely. The Chiefs then traded Page, which might have been a way of saying they felt comfortable with the future tandem of Morgan and Berry, but it was not. While the Chiefs did invest a third round pick in him, it was under an old regime, which might not have boded well for his chances at a roster spot. Coming out of N.C. State as a junior, he still has a lot of room to grow though.
MiamiPat White2009: 2nd Rd (44)

Everyone knew that Pat White was picked too high when Miami took him with their 2nd overall pick, including Miami. Yet with a presumably strong emphasis on the Wildcat offense going into 2010, Miami took their chances with what they thought was the best wildcat option out there. Unfortunately, while having the arm and speed to succeed, it just never seemed to click for White and Miami. He is still a good talent, and if they drafted him in the 5th round where his grade probably should have put him, they likely would have held on to him for another year to develop his role.

MinnesotaJavon Walker2002: 1st Rd (19)Javon Walker's career was done a few years ago. So when Minnesota signed him this summer after Sidney Rice went down, it was a long shot that he would make an impact. However, he actually did, catching 6 passes for 119 yards and 2 tds in Minnesota's final 2 preseason games. Looking like Walker would give them a good option in an area where they need help, and could potentially return to his old productive form, it was a surprise to see him on their cut list.
New EnglandZac Robinson2010: 7th Rd (250)

Normally it wouldn't be a surprise that a 7th round pick was cut, but New England needed another backup quarterback behind undrafted Brian Hoyer who has not even had the chance to prove himself on this level. Robinson actually looked decent for them during preseason, and with his ability to run he could have provided an intriguing option for them during games. New England probably felt that they only wanted one developmental quarterback on their roster, and with some of their old studies on the market, Kevin O'Connell and Matt Gutierrez, they had plenty of options if needed.

Status: Signed to Seattle practice squad

New OrleansAl Woods2010: 4th Rd (123)Two years ago Al Woods was a very big prospect for LSU. However, he never came close to fulfilling the hype, and was constantly outplayed by other players at his position. Yet he still wowed scouts enough with his potential to get drafted in the 4th round. With that kind of potential and lack of production, it normally takes a few years to develop and mold, which is what made it surprising that New Orleans was willing to give up on him so soon.

Status: Signed to Pittsburgh practice squad

NY GiantsAndre Brown2009: 4th Rd (129)

The Giants were very excited for Andre Brown last year before he got hurt with an Achilles injury, and they were just as excited again for him this year. With Brown they were hoping to have the potent 3-man team at running back attack like they did the year they won the Super Bowl with Derrick Ward as the third man. It seems though that Brown's road to recovery from injury was a lot harder than expected, and with an apparent turf toe injury keeping him out of the first game, they found him to be expendable.

Status: Signed by Denver

NY JetsDonovan Warren2010: UndraftedReports out of Jets camp were that Donovan Warren was actually doing pretty well as an undrafted rookie out of Michigan. Even though Warren came out before he was ready, he was still a great talent and a top tier free agent after the draft. With Revis coming back without the summer training, and some new safeties to break in, Warren would have provided them with some great depth being able to play both cornerback and safety.
OaklandStevie Brown2010: 7th Rd (251)

Oakland's cuts were not that surprising, but Stevie Brown is the choice here because technically he addressed the media after he thought he made the 53-man roster, only to be told later on that he was cut. Outside of the tease, he was making great strides and there was talk of him challenging Mike Mitchell for a starting safety spot. Unfortunately, after making huge management improvements this year having a great draft and signing and trading for players with a lot of potential, the higher ups might still be trying to hold on to Mitchell in order to prove they didn't make a mistake drafting him in the 2nd round.

Status: Signed to Practice Squad

PhiladelphiaQuintin Demps2008: 4th Rd (117)Demps was one of the higher ranked safeties in the 2008 draft, and with his return game ability, he was a very valuable prospect. While he did return some kicks, he never was much more than average on special teams. As a safety he also never proved enough. After dropping Macho Harris the Eagles are left with 3 safeties, 2 of who are rookies. Apparently though, Nate Allen and Kurt Coleman proved enough to make the coaching staff feel comfortable starting either of them alongside or in place of productive Quintin Mikell.
PittsburghKraig Urbik2009: 3rd Rd (79)

When Urbik was picked in the third round, Pittsburgh was hoping they finally found their replacement for guard Alan Faneca who left the season before for the Jets. However he never really found his groove losing the backup spot to a fellow undrafted rookie Ramon Foster, and Doug Legursky proving more valuable because of his versatility. With only one year under his belt though, it might have been a good idea to hold on to him for one more.

Status: Signed by Buffalo

San DiegoJonathan Crompton2010: 5th Rd (168)

After trading away Charlie Whitehurst in the offseason, a young replacement was needed at backup QB behind Billy Volek who was backing up Philip Rivers. Crompton was a major talent coming into college, but never seemed to reach his potential at Tennessee, until making great strides in his senior year. Thus taking him to be the 3rd backup seemed like a smart move for San Diego since they would be able to develop him and eventually move him into the number 2 backup role. With Billy Volek's productivity questionable in the preseason, it might have been better to protect Crompton just in case.

San FranciscoCody Wallace2008: 4th Rd (108)Wallace missed did not play much for the 49ers but offered great depth being able to play both center and guard. With Eric Heitmann injured and injury-prone David Baas having to start in his place early in the season, depth at the center position might be needed. Apparently though with the recent draft picks along the offensive line, he was deemed expendable and no longer worth investing time and money into.
SeattleT.J. Houshmandzadeh2001: 7th Rd (204)

While T.J. Houshmandzadeh might not have had the impact people expected in Seattle last year, he was still their number one receiver with over 900 yards. With Deion Branch never having fully returned to form, Nate Burleson going to Detroit, Golden Tate being a rookie, and not having Deon Butler develop the way they would have liked, T.J. would have been a nice insurance blanket for them.

Status: Signed by Baltimore

St. LouisBobby Carpenter2006: 1st Rd (18)

When the Rams traded for Bobby Carpenter it was thought to be a good move, taking a former first round pick and moving him to his natural position, starting him next to a guy who he would have familiarity with based on playing the same system in college, James Laurinaitis. However, it never happened for Carpenter, and his road may end here, unless his old GM Parcells brings him to Miami.

Status: Signed by Miami

Tampa BayMichael Clayton2004: 1st Rd (15)This was more surprising for how poorly his career has gone after his exceptional rookie season. After catching 80 passes for 1193 yards, he never again caught more than 40 or 500 yards in a season. For 6 seasons, Tampa Bay waited for him to regain his prime form, with 2008 his best attempt, but unfortunately for Clayton they were tired of waiting. With young players Sammie Stroughter and rookies Mike Williams and Arrelious Benn on the wings, and a young quarterback in Josh Freeman, the Bucs clearly did not want to waste any more reps on Clayton.
TennesseeMyron Rolle2010: 6th Rd (207)

Myron Rolle was a great story coming in to the draft, taking a year off of football not because he was suspended or injured, but because he was attending one of the most prestigious educational institutions in the world. While at Florida State he was one of the best safeties in the country, and with continued development, he could have continued down that path. However, it was clear to Tennessee that his year off from football did more damage than good in terms of a roster spot. Either that or he was too afraid to kill his brain cells by playing football so that he could pursue his neurosurgeon dreams. With a year of training though, he could have potentially gotten himself back to the football player he was once supposed to become.

Status: Signed to Practice Squad

WashingtonChad Rinehart2008: 3rd Rd (96)Being one of the top guards in the 2008 draft, Rinehart just never seemed to put it all together and adapt to the faster speeds of the NFL. With Washington needing as much help as possible on their offensive line though, it was a surprise to see them cut this young talented guard. With a new GM and coach, they had no feeling of loyalty towards him and felt comfortable with Derrick Dockery and Artis Hicks, even with them both hovering around their 30's.

Next 10 Honorable Mention (in order of entry into league):

ClevelandLarry Asante2010: 5th Rd (160)

After drafting T.J. Ward, it was thought that Cleveland might have drafted their two safeties of the future this year. Yet they opted for heady veterans instead for this year.

Status: Signed to Practice Squad

WashingtonSelvish Capers2010: 7th Rd (231)

Needing depth at offensive tackle, with a rookie and an uncertainty on the other side, it might have been a good idea to stick with an extra tackles, even if he was a big project.

Status: Signed to Practice Squad

IndianapolisBlair White2010: Undrafted

After racking up 132 yards in the Colts' final preseason game and 38 in the first, it was looking like Blair White could be another wide receiver steal for the Indianapolis Colts, but unfortunately with a surplus of receivers, they couldn't find room for him.

Status: Signed to Practice Squad

MiamiPatrick Turner2009: 3rd Rd (87)

It was looked at as a risk, but also a wise move when Miami drafted Patrick Turner, since they needed size at wide receiver and he provided plenty of it. However, he produced somewhat underwhelming seasons at USC, and it was a wonder if he would be the same way at the next level. After one year it looked like it was not going to translate, catching zero passes, and adding no value on special teams. It was only one year though, so with another year of coaching it might have been a different story.

ChicagoJuaquin Iglesias2009: 3rd Rd (99)

Not given much of a shot, Iglesias might have thrived in Martz's system coming from a high powered offense at Oklahoma.

Status: Signed to Practice Squad

NY GiantsRhett Bomar2009: 5th Rd (151)

The Giants have been grooming Rhett Bomar since last year to be Eli Manning's long time backup, dropping their previous project Andre Woodson in the process. Evidently they did not think he was able to fill that role, so they brought in Sage Rosenfels, and figured they could cut their losses with Bomar before they spend too much time developing him.

Status: Signed to Practice Squad

PhiladelphiaCornelius Ingram2009: 5th Rd (153)When drafted, it looked like Ingram might have been able to fill and possibly exceed the pass catching role that L.J. Smith used to have, but then he got hurt once again which was his vice when at Florida. Unfortunately for him Brent Celek broke out last year, and his role was no longer a necessity, nor was wasting a roster spot waiting for him to get healthy.
PhiladelphiaMacho Harris2009: 5th Rd (157)Drafted 4 picks after the guy above him on this list, Harris looked like a player that could come in at several positions and be effective. After getting playing time throughout the season, he showed promise, but after filling their secondary with a lot of players in the draft and free agency, he just didn't show enough for them to keep him around.
MiamiDonald Thomas2008: 6th Rd (195)The surprise with Donald Thomas was that he worked out great for a 6th round pick having very little football experience in his life. He was able to jump into the starting lineup at guard last year and play very well. While the Dolphins drafted John Jerry this year and signed Richie Incognito, having Thomas would have provided them with some of the best guard depth in the league.
PittsburghJustin Hartwig2002: 6th Rd (187)It was only a matter of time before Hartwig was gone after the Steelers drafted Maurkice Pouncey. However, with the quarterback situation in flux for the first 4 games, it might have been a good idea to keep him around.