Veterans who could be cut by each of the NFL's 32 teams

ByNFL Nation ESPN logo
Monday, June 17, 2019

Jacksonville Jaguarswide receiverTerrelle Pryorand Oakland Raiders offensive lineman Richie Incognito are new to their teams, but will they still be there on opening day? Can Pittsburgh Steelers corner Artie Burns stay out of the doghouse and fight his way back up the depth chart?

NFL Nation reporters pick 32 veterans who might not make opening day rosters in 2019.


AFC East: BUF | MIA | NE | NYJ

AFC North: BAL | CIN | CLE | PIT

AFC South: HOU | IND | JAX | TEN

AFC West: DEN | KC | LAC | OAK


NFC North: CHI | DET| GB | MIN

NFC South: ATL | CAR| NO | TB



Buffalo Bills

RB T.J. Yeldon

There is a logjam at running back, and Yeldon appears to be the closest to the bubble. He missed time with a groin injury, but when he returned to practice during an OTA open to reporters June 4, he ran with the third-team offense. Meanwhile, the Bills have distributed first-team reps to veterans LeSean McCoy and Frank Gore, as well as third-round rookie Devin Singletary. It is still too early to call McCoy or Gore locks, but Yeldon looks to have ground to make up and could be competing with Senorise Perry, a skilled special-teams player, for a final roster spot. -- Mike Rodak

Miami Dolphins

RT Jordan Mills

The Dolphins brought in Mills last month with hopes that he could start at right tackle, replacing Ja'Wuan James, who left for Denver in free agency. Mills has struggled in his first month with the Dolphins, regularly being exposed during practices and forcing guard Jesse Davis to replace him at right tackle for a couple of practices. If Mills can't win the starting right tackle job, the Dolphins can try to save $2 million by finding another option to fill that role or turning to Davis. -- Cameron Wolfe

New England Patriots

P Ryan Allen

Those who watched Super Bowl LIII, during which Allen put on a clinic with situational punting (three downed inside the 20), might be surprised that the seven-year veteran falls on the bubble. But the Patriots traded up to select Stanford punter Jake Bailey in the fifth round, and Allen signed only a one-year deal as an unrestricted free agent in March. Bailey has a stronger leg than Allen, but Allen's consistency has helped him keep the job in New England since 2013. -- Mike Reiss

New York Jets

RB Elijah McGuire

The return of Bilal Powell indicates the Jets aren't happy with their running-back depth -- and that doesn't bode well for McGuire. He has played 564 offensive snaps over the past two seasons, but has averaged only 3.3 yards per carry. The previous regime was high on McGuire, but the additions of Le'Veon Bell and Ty Montgomery, combined with Powell's return, could make him the odd man out. -- Rich Cimini


Baltimore Ravens

RB Kenneth Dixon

The 2016 fourth-round pick has shown flashes, averaging 4.8 yards per carry on 148 carries, but Dixon will have to make a strong push to find a spot in a crowded Ravens backfield. Baltimore signed Mark Ingram II in free agency and drafted Justice Hill. The biggest problem with Dixon has been dependability. Injuries and multiple suspensions have forced him to miss 30 games in three seasons. -- Jamison Hensley

Cincinnati Bengals

G Clint Boling

It's unclear what's going on with Boling, who has worked off to the side during OTAs and minicamp, but with Cordy Glenn's move to left guard, and the signing of John Miller to play right guard, Boling has suddenly become expendable. If first-round pick Jonah Williams is hurt for any length of time and Glenn moves back to tackle, that could keep Boling in the starting lineup, but for now, it wouldn't be a total surprise if the team decided to eventually part ways with him. -- Katherine Terrell

Cleveland Browns

K Greg Joseph

The Browns spent a fifth-round pick on Oklahoma kicker Austin Seibert for a reason, a move that immediately placed incumbent Greg Joseph on the bubble. It didn't help that Seibert's leg impressed during minicamp either.-- Jake Trotter

Pittsburgh Steelers

CB Artie Burns

With an $800,000 roster bonus due July 28, Burns has worked overtime during OTAs and minicamp to regain his footing after a 2018 benching. He has logged extra film work with coaches. Head coach Mike Tomlin said Burns understands the "urgency of his circumstance" and is acting appropriately. The former first-round pick has had a few standout moments in recent practices, which was necessary in a crowded defensive backfield that just added free agent Steven Nelson and third-round pick Justin Layne. -- Jeremy Fowler


Houston Texans

TE Darren Fells

The Texans signed Fells to a low-risk one-year deal this offseason, adding a veteran player who brings leadership and an ability to block. And while they could use a blocking tight end, Fells joins a group of three recent draft picks --Kahale Warring (third round, 2019), Jordan Akins (third round, 2018) and Jordan Thomas (sixth round, 2018) -- in a crowded tight ends room. It's not impossible that the Texans would keep four tight ends on their roster, but they usually opt to carry three. -- Sarah Barshop

Indianapolis Colts

CB Nate Hairston

The 2017 fifth-round pick had a disappointing second season, not having any interceptions or sacks and just one pass defended. Now Hairston faces the risk of getting lost in the shuffle of what could be a deep cornerback position. Hairston is competing against the likes of fellow cornerbacks Pierre Desir, Quincy Wilson, Kenny Moore, Rock Ya-Sin (second round, 2019), Chris Milton, Marvell Tell III (fifth round, 2019) and Jalen Collins. It could come down to a numbers game for Hairston on how many cornerbacks -- six or seven -- the Colts want to keep on the roster next season. -- Mike Wells

Jacksonville Jaguars

WR Terrelle Pryor

If Marqise Lee (knee) does indeed return a couple of weeks into training camp, the Jaguars' top five receiver spots are pretty much settled: Lee, Dede Westbrook (last year's top receiver), DJ Chark (a 2018 second-round pick), Chris Conley (an FA signee who has been the best receiver in OTAs) and Keelan Cole (who led the team in receiving yards in 2017). That means Pryor might have to beat out one of those players to make the team, unless the Jaguars decide to keep six receivers on the 53-man roster. Pryor spent the past two seasons battling injuries and says he's completely healthy now. That could make things very interesting in September. -- Mike DiRocco

Tennessee Titans

LB Daren Bates

Bates is a special-teams ace who can play inside linebacker in a pinch if called upon. The Titans recently drafted linebacker David Long Jr., a younger, less expensive option who can play special teams and was a productive inside 'backer at West Virginia (110 tackles, 16 for loss, three sacks). Bates had an off-the-field incident (he was recently charged with possession of marijuana), which drew the ire of coach Mike Vrabel, who also raved about Long's ability to play in space against the spread offenses in the Big 12. -- Turron Davenport


Denver Broncos

DE DeMarcus Walker

Walker was the second-round pick in what has largely been a lackluster 2017 draft class for the Broncos. And while the team didn't do him any favors by asking him to drop weight and move to outside linebacker during his rookie season before switching him back to defensive end, he never quite seemed to gain traction with the former coaching staff and was inactive 13 times last season and six times in 2017. Now he's trying to convince a new coaching staff to keep him in a year when the team is crowded in the defensive front with Derek Wolfe, Adam Gotsis, Shelby Harris, Zach Kerr and likely rookie Dre'Mont Jones ahead of him on the current depth chart. The Broncos like Walker's attitude and his willingness to keep pushing, but it's going to be a numbers game, and he will likely have to jump a fellow veteran on the depth chart to make it . -- Jeff Legwold

Kansas City Chiefs

DE Tanoh Kpassagnon

The signs became ominous for him late last season when he was deactivated several times on game day despite being healthy. Things got even worse for him during the offseason, when the Chiefs acquired three players now ahead of him on the depth chart.-- Adam Teicher

Los Angeles Chargers

QB Cardale Jones

The Ohio State product has been the No. 3 quarterback for the past two seasons. However, the Chargers drafted North Dakota State product Easton Stick in the fifth round. With the Chargers signing Tyrod Taylor as the No. 2 behind Philip Rivers, Jones must show improvement during training camp to stick around in 2019. "The evaluation is going to come in the preseason games when you're out there against another team and you're having to manage a lot of different things," Chargers offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt said. "The trend for him has been good. He's improving. Just seeing his command in the huddle now, opposed to what it was last year, it's much better."-- Eric D. Williams

Oakland Raiders

LG Richie Incognito

If he keeps his nose clean and plays as well as he did in 2017, before his one-year retirement, he is the Raiders' starting left guard. No question about it. But with a litany of on- and off-field transgressions, as well as being on a veterans minimum one-year prove-it deal, his margin for error is razor-thin after surprisingly signing with Oakland on May 28. "Hopefully Richie finds his stride here, like he had a couple years ago," Raiders coach Jon Gruden said. "Because when he's right, he's one of the best in football." Hey, as general manager Mike Mayock said, "You can't have all boy scouts."-- Paul Gutierrez


Dallas Cowboys

WR Tavon Austin

He re-signed with the Cowboys on a one-year deal that included just $500,000 guaranteed and was limited during organized team activities and minicamp because of a hamstring strain. Austin caught eight passes for 140 yards and two touchdowns last year but played in just seven games because of a groin injury. The Cowboys added Randall Cobb in free agency to handle the slot. They drafted running back Tony Pollard to be the change-of-pace back and potential returner. That doesn't leave a lot of room for Austin to make a mark. He can be a game-changer with his speed, but he has to stay healthy.-- Todd Archer

New York Giants

QBKyle Lauletta

Yes, he quickly became a veteran once the Giants drafted quarterback Daniel Jones with the No. 6 overall pick. Now, one year after being selected in the fourth round of the 2018 draft, his roster spot is in jeopardy. The Giants weren't happy with how Lauletta acted last year (which included his arrest for a driving accident) and didn't think he was anywhere near ready as a quarterback. Jones and Eli Manning are guaranteed roster spots. Lauletta will have to earn his by outplaying Alex Tanney, whom the Giants like. It didn't help that he had his knee cleaned out earlier this year and missed some of the offseason.-- Jordan Raanan

Philadelphia Eagles

RB Wendell Smallwood

The fourth-year back out of West Virginia has managed to stick around even with the odds seemingly stacked against him, and he is coming off his most statistically productive season (364 yards, three TDs), as injuries presented opportunity in 2018. The additions of rookie Miles Sanders and veteran Jordan Howard have deepened the talent pool, however, and he'll be competing with the likes of Corey Clement, Josh Adams and Boston Scott for a place of the 53-man roster.-- Tim McManus

Washington Redskins

OL Ereck Flowers

In truth, he'll be hard to cut because the Redskins have little depth at tackle; he also has $1.5 million in guaranteed money. Plus, there are questions about Trent Williams: Will he demand a trade or release regardless of whether he receives a new deal? Williams' health is always a concern, and he is coming off a surgical procedure to remove a growth from his head. Flowers has not played well in the past, and he did not look great in the spring. The Redskins want Flowers to compete at left guard, but they also drafted Wes Martin in the fourth round to do the same. Flowers would count $3.2 million if he makes the roster, so they can save $1.7 million by releasing him. It means he should not feel guaranteed of a spot.-- John Keim


Chicago Bears


The Bears are such a young team that identifying a veteran player on the bubble is nearly impossible. Former running backTaquan Mizzell's roster spot is in jeopardy after he moved to wide receiver in the offseason, but Mizzell is hardly a well-known commodity around the league. Fourth-year defensive lineman Jonathan Bullard has underwhelmed in Chicago, but Bullard is a former third-rounder, and the odds of the Bears letting him go appear remote.-- Jeff Dickerson

Detroit Lions

LB Miles Killebrew

The former fourth-round pick was drafted as a possibility to be a long-term solution at safety. Instead, he has struggled to find a role on the team's defense. A special-teams standout, he has bounced between safety and linebacker during his time with Detroit, and he is entering the final year of his deal. Killebrew's spot is still tenuous, and it could be decided by his performance in training camp. -- Michael Rothstein

Green Bay Packers

K Mason Crosby

No, this isn't like the kicking situation in Chicago, but Crosby at least faces some competition. After an otherwise solid season that was marred by a disastrous game in Detroit (where he missed five kicks -- four field goals and an extra point) and a last-second miss in the late-season loss to Arizona (that led to coach Mike McCarthy's immediate firing), Packers GM Brian Gutekunst brought in competition for Crosby in the form of free agent Sam Ficken, who has kicked in just four games over the past two seasons with the Rams. It's the first time since the 2013 training camp that the Packers have had a second kicker on their offseason roster. -- Rob Demovsky

Minnesota Vikings

WR Laquon Treadwell

The former first-round pick's time in Minnesota will come to an end sooner or later. The Vikings declined to pick up the receiver's fifth-year option, which means he is headed toward free agency after the 2019 season, if he doesn't part ways with the team that drafted him before that. The Vikings will give Treadwell every opportunity to contend for the No. 3 receiver position in training camp, but unlike last spring, he didn't do much to separate himself from the competition during OTAs and minicamp. Treadwell is in danger of not making the 53-man roster if the likes of Chad Beebe, Jordan Taylor and a handful of rookie receivers beat him out for the role he hasn't been able to grasp since he arrived in Minnesota. -- Courtney Cronin


Atlanta Falcons

RB Kenjon Barner

Barner, entering his seventh season with his fourth team, signed as a potential return specialist with 106 career returns. But the Falcons entered the draft with intentions of finding a returner, and they might have one in sixth-round pick Marcus Green. Plus, fellow rookie Kendall Sheffield, with his 4.25 speed, might get a cameo on kickoff returns too. Not to mention, Barner is part of a crowded backfield at running back with Devonta Freeman, Ito Smithand rookie Qadree Ollison. -- Vaughn McClure

Carolina Panthers

WR Torrey Smith

He already has taken a $2 million pay cut to remain on the team. The Panthers signed Chris Hogan during the offseason, so he can replace Smith's veteran presence. Last year's first-round draft pick, DJ Moore, has taken over the No. 1 spot that was Smith's before an injury forced him out last season. Curtis Samuel is the No. 2. With cheaper options, the Panthers could opt to move on from Smith, who still is scheduled to make $3 million this year. -- David Newton

New Orleans Saints

WR Cameron Meredith

Meredith agreed to a pay cut to stay with the team in March. But that won't be enough unless he finally gets healthy and starts producing on the practice field. Meredith missed all of OTAs and minicamp to keep recuperating from the knee injury that wiped out his entire 2017 season with the Bears and limited him to just six games in New Orleans last year. The plan is to be smart and cautious so he can be healthy in training camp and last the full season. But he'll have to make up ground quickly this summer to solidify a role. -- Mike Triplett

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

OL Evan Smith

The Bucs' coaching staff is high on Smith, not only for his ability to play both center and guard, but because of his experience (he's entering his 10th season). However, he missed the entire offseason program because he has been recovering from torn labrums in both hips. Alex Cappa has been getting a lot of first-team reps at right guard. Earl Watford can play just about every position along the offensive line. Mike Liedtke has gotten a lot of reps at center and could be a viable backup to Ryan Jensen. We'll have a better idea of where things truly stand when the pads come on in training camp. -- Jenna Laine


Arizona Cardinals

WR Chad Williams

The third-year receiver has yet to live up to expectations in two vastly different offensive schemes. He has 20 catches for 202 yards and one touchdown in two seasons but has yet to play more than 10 games in a season. Take all that and add in the three receivers whom the Cardinals drafted this year, as well as the signings of Kevin White, Damiere Byrd and Pharoh Cooper, and Williams faces a steep road to the roster. While Williams' size and speed could help his case in Kliff Kingsbury's Air Raid offense, his lack of production and the potential of other receivers on the roster will likely squeeze him out. -- Josh Weinfuss

Los Angeles Rams


The Rams are in a unique situation, with no veterans who will enter training camp on the roster bubble. Before the start of free agency, the Rams declined to pick up the option on center John Sullivan's contract and released linebacker Mark Barron; otherwise, both players would have been in danger of being cut for financial reasons. As the roster is constructed, each veteran is expected to play a valuable role that is not expendable. -- Lindsey Thiry

San Francisco 49ers

G Joshua Garnett

Garnett, the No. 28 pick in the 2016 NFL draft, survived the 2018 season after losing the starting job to Mike Person and again dealing with injuries. Now, Garnett is entering an important year, as the 49ers already elected to decline his fifth-year option, which means Garnett can be a free agent in 2020. The range of outcomes for Garnett is large. If he can stay healthy, Garnett could stick and even potentially push for a starting job. but there's also the chance he could get beat out for a roster spot altogether. -- Nick Wagoner

Seattle Seahawks

QBs Geno Smith and Paxton Lynch

The two former early-round draft picks who didn't pan out as starters are competing to back up Russell Wilson. Lynch signed a futures deal (that includes no guaranteed money) after last season and thus has a head start in the Seahawks' system over Smith, who joined the team in mid-May (on a deal that includes only $25,000 guaranteed). But Smith figures to have a leg up given that he has a significant NFL experience. Plus, Lynch has practice squad eligibility, whereas Smith does not. The Seahawks keep only two quarterbacks on their 53-man roster, and their trade for Brett Hundley last preseason is a reminder that the guy who ends up backing up Wilson might be someone other than Smith or Lynch. -- Brady Henderson

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