bill-swift - August 29, 2012
The NFL opted to do something new this year. Normally teams are allowed to have up to 80 players in training camp leading up to the first cut. This season the maximum was raised to 90 players meaning that when the ax starts to fall--which it did over the weekend in advance of Monday's 4 PM deadline-- some 1200 players are going to find themselves out of work (rosters go from 75 to 53 on Friday).
Every year there are at least a handful of former starters/star players that for any of a number of reasons did not make the squad. That doesn't mean they will not make another team's roster. The following players-- primarily wide receivers and kickers-- that might have a chance to find a spot on an NFL roster in the near future:
Vince Young, QB: Young was no longer needed after the Bills acquired Tarvaris Jackson from the Seahawks. Young has shown moments of the brilliance that he became known for when he led the Texas Longhorns to a national championship. Overall, in his six seasons he has been erratic, both on and off the field.
That being said, there are plenty of teams that could use someone with his potential as a backup QB so don't expect him to be on the market for long. It wouldn't be shocking to see the Arizona Cardinals give a look as well.
Terrell Owens, WR: He finally had a chance to get back in the NFL, but couldn't perform. Seattle head coach Pete Carroll was nice enough to say that Owens was not a behavior problem when he was with the team in contrast to rumors that the old TO was back. Attitude or not, he simply missed a lot of catches he should have had and his work ethic was questioned. No one wants a lazy guy that can't catch.
If Owens is going to play football again it will be in the UFL first. He'll have to play like an MVP there for an NFL team to take a flier on him later this season.
Luke McCown, QB: the career back-up has only played in 20 games over eight seasons in the NFL. At times he has played well; at other times it is understandable why no one keeps him around for long. His lack of playing time means he should be pretty healthy, but do to his sub-par resume don't expect to see him on a roster this season unless a team gets ravaged by injuries.
Donte Stallworth, WR: a notoriously streaky receiver it appears that fewer and fewer teams want to see if Stallworth will find some consistency anymore. His last decent season was in 2007 with the Patriots (46 receptions for 697 yards). Since then he has spent a year out of football and made just 41 catches spread over three seasons with three teams.
When teams get hit with injuries during the season it would not be shocking to see teams call Stallworth. At the same time, it would not be surprising to see them go after a younger, unknown player too.
Jabar Gaffney, WR: it was a little surprising to see the Patriots let Gaffney go. For the last six years he has steadily increased his production from 142 yards in '06 to 947 last season with the Redskins. His primary use is in the deep passing game; since that is something the Pats are not good at you'd think they would want to keep someone who is.
Don't expect to see Gaffney remain in the open market for long. His resume is good enough to attract a lot of attention from teams that are hungry for a No. 3 wide receiver or possibly even a No. 2 (if they're desperate, like the Miami Dolphins).
Danario Alexander, WR: Alexander should be looking to break out this season, not find a job. The general belief is that although he has promise and is talented, he can't seem to stay healthy long enough to really develop it. Being young there will likely be a number of teams that might be willing to take a chance on him and see if he can stay healthy long enough to find out how good he can be.
Since the upside is finding a receiver that is good enough to play for years to come (over a veteran who just wants one more year) he is worth the risk.
Lots and lots and lots of Kickers: Did I mention that a lot of well-known kickers were cut? Teams typically only carry one kicker; since there are a ton of kickers waiting by the phone to get work for a few weeks or even just a single game there is no need to carry two. Kicker is the one position that will often get cut mid-season for failure to perform as well (again, because teams know there are options available.
The following veteran kickers will be waiting by the phone for work and will likely be back in the NFL at some point in the season. Like all kickers, they are streaky, but for the most part they are pretty good: Billy Cundiff, Olindo Mare, Josh Brown, and Neil Rackers.
Ed. note: Cundiff signed with Washington, who just cut Graham Gano after cutting Neil Rackers the day before.