• The Las Vegas Raiders’ new regime makes roster cuts especially unpredictable.
This weekend presents one more opportunity for NFL players to prove they should avoid Tuesday’s chopping block when rosters must be trimmed from 80 players down to 53.
Every NFL team will be playing their final preseason game between Thursday and Sunday but then comes the difficult decisions when you’ll see a whirlwind of activity as players are cut and traded across the league.
Readers had questions about positional battles, trades and potential cuts. We’ll answer them in this week’s mailbag.
@Its_A_SadWorld: Do you think Seattle is making the right choice by going with Geno Smith over Drew Lock?
- Most importantly, the Seahawks have not made a decision yet, per sources.
- Geno Smith will start Friday’s game, but Drew Lock will play extensive snaps, per head coach Pete Carroll.
- Smith is the leader in the clubhouse for the job, in part due to the unfortunate timing of Lock’s positive COVID test that kept him from starting and playing in Week 2 of the preseason. “Lock missing Thursday’s game was a killer for his chances,” one source said.
- That being said, one source said that if Lock “balls out” against Dallas, then he still has a chance. Otherwise, the Seahawks will go with Smith.
So, is it the right choice? I guess that depends on the Seahawks’ goals and expectations for the 2022 season. If they truly believe they’re contenders, then Smith is the steadier hand who will protect the ball better and manage games. Since 2019, Smith has a 2.4-percent turnover-worthy play rate to Lock’s 4.2-percent mark.
Nonetheless, the Seahawks’ current win total odds are set at 5.5. They’re -700 to miss the playoffs and +1820 to win the NFC West, as they’re expected to be one of the worst teams in the NFL after trading away quarterback Russell Wilson.
So, there’s also some logic in seeing what Lock can provide since he should, in theory, provide more upside as a younger player.
But if this is a legitimate competition between Smith and Lock, then then the veteran hasn’t really done anything to lose the job. He’s been solid in the preseason, and while there have been practices where Lock has performed better in, he also lost valuable playing time with the positive COVID case.
Look at Smith as the front-runner. But Lock still has one more chance to win the job with an exceptional performance Friday against the Cowboys.
@theunknowntruth: Who are some oline and recievers that will get cut because of the talent of their positions?
There should be some talented wide receivers becoming available from the Miami Dolphins and New England Patriots. There are only so many wide receivers on the Dolphins out of Tyreek Hill, Jaylen Waddle, Cedrick Wilson, Erik Ezukanma, Trent Sherfield, Lynn Bowden, Preston Williams, River Cracraft, Braylon Sanders and Mohamed Sanu who can make the team. Williams is a player to watch.
And the Patriots have their big four in Nelson Agholor, Kendrick Bourne, Jakobi Meyers and DeVante Parker (plus running back Ty Montgomery), but there will be some tough decisions to be made about Lil’Jordan Humphrey, Tre Nixon and Kristian Wilkerson.
And remember, rookie Tyquan Thornton needs to make the initial 53-man roster to be put on injured reserve in order for him to return this season.
Keep an eye on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, as well. Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, Russell Gage and Julio Jones will take up four spots. Then the final roles need to be decided between 2020 fifth-round pick Tyler Johnson, 2021 fourth-round pick Jaelon Darden, Scotty Miller and Breshad Perriman in addition to rookies Kaylon Geiger, Jerreth Sterns and Deven Thompkins. New York Jets 2020 second-round pick Denzel Mims also requested a trade Thursday through his agent, Ron Slavin.
As for the offensive line, Houston Texans legendary beat reporter John McClain threw out an interesting scenario on Twitter: Trading Laremy Tunsil to the Dallas Cowboys for a first-round pick and more. Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer recently mentioned Patriots right tackle Isaiah Wynn as a trade candidate, though I personally question if New England has the depth along their offensive line to make up for a move there. Michael Onwenu could slide over to right tackle, but then who plays right guard? Arlington Hambright? James Ferentz? Kody Russey? William Sherman? Yasir Durant? Chasen Hines? Converted defensive tackle Bill Murray?
It seems like a lot of teams are dealing with injuries and depth issues on their offensive line this summer.
@sharmake_b: Do you believe the Colts are a Super Bowl contender? Or their weakness at the reciever position could hurt them?
I’d say it depends on their passing game as a whole, and Matt Ryan’s play will be more important than anything else.
The Colts are currently -131 to win the AFC South, +1160 to win the AFC and +2240 to win the Super Bowl. Ryan will need to return to 2016 form or close for that to happen.
They already had one in running back Kenyan Drake. A pro scout I spoke with identified offensive lineman Alex Leatherwood as a trade or cut candidate and then Vinny Bonsignore of the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported that “all options are on the table with how to proceed” with the 2021 first-round pick. He certainly doesn’t appear primed for a starting role after struggling this summer.
Nonetheless, head coach Josh McDaniels and general manager Dave Ziegler aren’t tied to any of the picks or signings Jon Gruden and Mike Mayock made. Any of those fringe players from the previous regime could be surprise cut candidates.
I’m probably most excited to see what Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver George Pickens can do. He was viewed by some teams as the best wide receiver in the 2022 NFL Draft heading into the 2021 college football season before he tore his ACL. He’s starting to show why this summer.
I think it’s an uphill battle at this point because he’s failed to haul in some key catches during Patriots preseason games. He dropped a would-be first down in the first preseason game, and he dropped what would have been a long touchdown pass from Bailey Zappe last week.
I still think he has potential as a slot option, but it might take another injury or a surprise trade to get him on the roster over Meyers, Agholor, Parker, Bourne, Montgomery, Humphrey or Wilkerson.