ROSTER CUTS: Big Names Who Didn’t Make It

It’s been an odd weekend in the NFL. For the first time, the League decided to cut rosters from 90 to 53 after the final preseason game, rather than doing it in increments between the final two contests. It has made for a brutal few days, and some big names suddenly found themselves without teams.  

The deadline for teams to reduce their rosters was 4pm ET on Saturday, which was 9pm in the UK. We’ll be updating this page as news trickles in from the few teams who left announcing their moves til the very last minute.

Arizona Cardinals

Is this the end for CJ2K in the NFL? Chris Johnson might have been a big money back once, but he’s bounced around the league for the last few seasons and now couldn’t catch on in the Cardinals’ backfield. Father Time isn’t on his side.

Baltimore Ravens

The Ravens’ cut list reads almost like a who’s who of NFL bit part players. QB Thad Lewis, TE Larry Donnell, WR Griff Walen, FB Lorenzo Taliaferro and G Jeremy Zuttah were just some of the names on it. Some of those will pick up work elsewhere, for others it may very well be the last time we see them in uniform.

Carolina Panthers

Time catches up with everyone. Andy Lee was once a lock at punter for every Pro Bowl. Now he can’t even make the Panthers’ roster. On a lesser level, Joe Webb, who has bounced around the League at both QB and WR for a few years, is out of work again.

Chicago Bears

Victor Cruz was the big name cut at Soldier Field, but Roberto Aguayo must now fear that his NFL career is over after just one season after failing to win the kicking role. Linebacker Dan Skuta and DB Harold Jones-Quartey must both be somewhat surprised to find themselves on the streets, whilst Connor Shaw‘s injury problems mean that he’s the odd man out in the Chicago quarterback battle.

Cincinnati Bengals

NFLPA President Eric Winston is once again out of work after failing to land a roster spot with the Bengals. There will be an offensive line somewhere who will be glad of a veteran back up, though.

Cleveland Browns

Obviously, Brock Osweiler and Joe Haden made the headlines, but a look at who the Browns let you makes you realise just how much confidence they must have in their young roster. WR Josh Boyce, OL Anthony Fabiano, LB JD Harmon and K Cody Parkey all have much more NFL experience than some of those retained.

Dallas Cowboys

The big surprise in Dallas was that neither Kellen Moore nor Luke McCown made the roster. Veteran RB Ronnie Hillman and CB Sammy Seamster joined them as the big names on the Cowboys’ waiver list.

Denver Broncos

Denver had managed their roster so that only a comparatively few cuts were needed, but it was still something of a shock to see Pro Bowl safety TJ Ward  and veteran running back Stevan Ridley on the list.

Detroit Lions

The big shock here was not that the likes of RB Matt Asiata or OL Cyrus Kouandjio were on the list, but that rookie quarterback Brad Kaaya was.  Ranked by many as one of the top ten quarterbacks in this year’s Draft, Kaaya seems to have been sunk by Matthew Stafford‘s huge new contract and a consequent decision to keep only two quarterbacks on the roster. Expect him to find a spot on the practice squad instead.

Houston Texans

Shock! Horror! Brandon Weedon is looking for another job! Genuine surprise to see veteran LB Sio Moore on their list. Cutting guard David Quessenberry after his return from cancer treatment looks harsh, but he’ll be eligible for the practice squad if he clears waivers.

Jacksonville Jaguars

Maybe not big names, but slightly surprising to see the Jags cut ties with RB DuJuan Harris and CB Stanley Jean-Baptiste so soon.

Kansas City Chiefs

Once upon a time any offensive line coach would’ve been happy to have Jah Reid on their roster. Not any more, it seems. Veteran tight end Gavin Escobar should find it easier to find work elsewhere, but RB CJ Spiller may now be done after another year of failing to find a team.

Los Angeles Chargers

The headline here is that the Chargers have parted company with last season’s kicker Josh Lambo. Along the way they also say goodbye to such NFL bit-parters as RB Kenjon Barner and TE Jeff Cumberland, as well as veteran QB Kellen Clemens. Former Giant Andre Williams also misses the boat.

Los Angeles Rams

The Rams finally move on from veteran backup Dan Orlovsky behind center. The quarterback is better known for being the father of triplets and once accidentally running out of his own end zone and might now struggle to find another job in the League. Fans of other American sports will be disappointed to see that neither DB Michael Jordan  or OLB Willie Mays made the team.

Miami Dolphins

Olympian-turned-defensive-lineman Lawrence Okoye fails to make another roster. The CFL or an Arena league are now looking better bets for him.

Minnesota Vikings

A year is a long time in the NFL, and to prove it Mortiz Boehringer, the German wideout who was the talk of last year’s Draft, finds himself without a job (although he ought to make a practice squad somewhere). Arguably falling further is TJ Clemmings, who began last year as a rookie starter on the offensive line. Veteran guard Alex Boone also fails to make the cut.

New England Patritots

There’s one less Gronk in New England as fullback Glen Gronkowski leaves the team. So does running back Brandon Bolden, a Foxboro’ regular over the past few seasons.

New York Giants

RB Shaun Draughn, QB Josh Johnson and former Bengals K Mike Nugent all fail to make the cut in New York.

New York Jets

The Jets seem intent on cleansing their roster of anyone with personality, which means that tight end Austin Sefarian-Jenkins is a goner. Also gone is injury-prone defensive back Shamarko Thomas, once touted as a potential successor to the great Troy Polamalu during his time with the Steelers.

Pittsburgh Steelers

The Steelers ended 2016 with a roster full of young players who were not living up to expectations. Cornerback Senquez Golston  and tight end David Johnson have felt the full force of the franchise’s dissatisfaction, whilst oft-injured safety Malik Golden is released under the ‘waived/injured’ designation.

San Francisco 49ers

Some of these cuts were expected. Matt Barkley ends up being the odd man out at quarterback. Veteran defensive linemen Ledger Douzable and Sen’Derrick Marks fail to make the cut, as do wideouts Jeremy Kerley and Louis Murphy and running back Tim Hightower. Perhaps the biggest surprise is the release of Shayne Skov, a standout linebacker at college that the Niners have stashed on their practice squad for two years.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Wide receiver Josh Huff  is looking for yet another franchise.

Tennessee Titans

Tight end Jace Amaro was always fond of building his part up when in New York with the Jets, but he’s going to have to do some more fast talking now that even the Titans have let him go. Joining him is special teams specialist Eric Weems.

Washington Redskins

Remarkably, running back Matt Jones is the only really big name off the roster, although Arie makes it a bad weekend for the Kouandjio family by losing his job, too.


Where’s my team?

Not all teams had to make roster cuts this weekend, as some were not carrying the full 90 players allowed by the end of August anyway. Others didn’t cut anyone with any significant NFL experience. If they are not mentioned, they haven’t been forgotten – they just didn’t do anything we needed to comment on (for once!)


The names! The names!

One of the sad things about this weekend in the NFL is that the League loses some of those names that parents have worked so hard to make distinct. It’ll be a poorer place without Justice Liggins (WR, IND), Barrett Gouger (G, LAC), Cassanova McKinzy (LB, LAR), Pace Murphy (surely an inappropriate name for an OL, LAR), Praise Martin-Oguike (a DL whose coaches clearly didn’t feel the need to, MIA), Chunky Clements (the best-named DT in Minnesota), Phazahn Odom (TE, PHI) or Fish Smithson (S, WAS). For all of them it was Armageddon (Draughn, DB, NYJ).


Richard O’Hagan



Richard O'Hagan (276 Posts)

Writer on such diverse topics as sport, music, theatre, law and politics. Author of 'Eddie the Sheep'. Supporter of underachieving teams, including the Chicago Bears from before that brief, heady, period in the mid-1980s when they were actually any good. All I want for Christmas is a Jim McMahon away shirt.

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