One Man’s Trash: Sifting Through the First Round of Roster Cuts
Roster cuts are a rough time in the NFL. Many players’ time in the league is over, and they’re forced to look elsewhere to make a living. Fortunately, others are able to find opportunities with new teams. For teams, this is opportunity for the scouting department to find players that other teams overlooked. It is a great victory for both a team and a player when someone is successful after being cut by one or more teams. So which players that were cut prior to Tuesday’s deadline have a chance to succeed with another team? Here are five players who could go from being one team’s trash to another team’s treasure.
Joe McKnight – Runningback – New York Jets
Only 25 years old, McKnight would be a solid third runningback for any team. He has been a decent runner for the Jets, averaging 4.5 yards per carry, but most of his value comes on special teams. He is an excellent kick returner, reaching the endzone in each of the last two seasons, and he has blocked punts too. He was named special teams player of the month in October of 2011. McKnight even lined up at cornerback for the Jets last season for a game because of injuries. He is a versatile player, and he should be back on an NFL roster very soon.
Kenny Phillips – Safety – Philadelphia Eagles
Excellent when healthy, Phillips has struggled with injuries throughout his career. Multiple knee injuries have caused him to miss time as a member of the New York Giants, and a quad injury has kept him out of the last two preseason games. Still, as a starter for the Giants, he had four interceptions and 63 tackles in 2011. If a team gives him the time to get healthy, he could compete for a starting job once again. At only 26 years of age, it is very likely that a team will take a chance on him.
Jeremy Trueblood – Offensive Tackle/Guard – Washington Redskins
Trueblood was a six-year starter in Tampa Bay before injuries caused him to lose his starting spot in 2012. When he was healthy once again, the team utilized him at right guard to replace their injured Davin Joseph, but Trueblood would soon suffer a shoulder injury and be placed on injured reserve. He is more of a power-blocker, which may be why he struggled with the Redskins’ zone blocking scheme. Given his experience and new-found versatility, it would be surprising if no team to a chance on him as a veteran backup.
Barry Richardson – Offensive Tackle – Tennessee Titans
Richardson started every game for the last three seasons at right tackle for the Kansas City Chiefs and then St. Louis Rams in 2012. Pro Football Focus rated his season with the Rams as a plus-2.1 overall. That is greater than the likes of Jermon Bushrod, Winston Justice, Michael Oher, and other starting level offensive tackles. Given the Titans other offensive line upgrades, Richardson was in a difficult position to crack their lineup. Only 27 years old, he should have teams interested in signing him due to his experience and ability.
Kyle Moore – Defensive End – Chicago Bears
Working with the second team for most of training camp, Moore actually started for the Bears in their first preseason game against the Panthers, due to injury. He generated one sack this preseason, and he regularly applied pressure to the quarterback. Last season, with the Buffalo Bills, he racked up three sacks in 11 games, but struggled at times in stopping the run. As a third or fourth defensive end, he would generally only see the field on passing downs, so his run-stopping struggles can be overcame. Many 4-3 defenses could use a pass-rush specialist like Moore for depth on the defensive line.
Bonus: Brandon Lloyd – Wide Receiver – New England Patriots
Lloyd was never signed by a team after being released by the Patriots this past march, so technically, he was not one of the players cut because of roster limitations. Still, he is a free agent and could be a contributor to almost any offense. He was 89 yards short of 1,000 yards in 2012, and he had four touchdowns to go with it. The main reason he has yet to be signed is likely money; teams probably don’t want to pay him what he wants. However, as injuries pile up, some team will likely bite the bullet and sign the best free agent on the market. He may be one of those players who does not sign until after the regular season starts so his contract is not guaranteed.