NFL News & Analysis

Doug Kyed's Mailbag: Which recent cuts could be impact players, Denzel Mims trade? and more

Canton, Ohio, USA; Las Vegas Raiders offensive tackle Alex Leatherwood (70) against the Jacksonville Jaguars in the Pro Football Hall of Fame game at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

• Despite being a surprise cut, 2021 first-round pick Alex Leatherwood could wind up making an impact on his new team.

• With Leatherwood out of the picture, Josh McDaniels has a familiar face expected to start at right tackle this season.

Chauncey Gardner-Johnson appears to be the missing link in the Eagles’ secondary.

Estimated reading time: 5 mins

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@CharlesChillFFB: Do you read a player who goes unclaimed and back to a (practice squad) as “not good enough to make a 53-man roster” or are many of these (practice squad) transactions a handshake agreement between teams?

That’s a good but complicated question. In its simplest form, I would say that not all players who are released and re-sign to a practice squad are “not good enough to make a 53-man roster.”

First, players on practice squads will wind up being elevated to play Sundays over players who actually made initial 53-man rosters, and the most common reason for that is that a team might not want to risk losing a young player with potential on waivers, so they’ll cut a player less likely to be claimed but more game-ready, knowing they’ll likely clear waivers and land back on the practice squad with the ability to be elevated on game day.

There are also players who are released and clear waivers but choose to sign to a team’s practice squad over another team’s 53-man roster because they know they have a better chance of earning playing time since they won’t need to start over with a system or playbook. I’ve even heard of players on practice squads turning down being signed to another team’s 53-man roster in-season.

Roster maneuvering is an art form in the NFL.


@DOorDIEGS: The @Raiders lost Brandon Parker to IR and cut Leatherwood. Who should they target on waivers or trade for to fill in the openings?

I’d be a little bit surprised if they do wind up targeting anyone on waivers or via trade to fill in at right tackle. It seems like Jermaine Eluemunor will get the first shot to start at right tackle, and he’s had some decent success there in the past despite having more of the body type for a guard at 6-foot-4, 345 pounds with 33 ¼-inch arms.

  • He earned a 67.3 PFF grade at right tackle this preseason.
  • He earned a 75.5 PFF grade at right tackle with the New England Patriots in 2020 while playing under then offensive coordinator and now Raiders head coach Josh McDaniels.

Then the Raiders also have 2022 seventh-round pick Thayer Munford waiting in the wings. Munford earned a 61.8 PFF grade at right tackle this summer.

@f_fiorotto: Which players cut this week do you think are more likely to be impact players on other teams?

The Chicago Bears clearly felt they could upgrade the bottom half of their roster by claiming six players. Defensive tackle Armon Watts earned a 70.9 pass-rushing grade last season and could be an impact-maker in Matt Eberflus’ defense. Chicago also has enough question marks on their offensive line that we could wind up seeing Alex Leatherwood receive some playing time this season. Chicago’s scheme is thought to be a better fit for Leatherwood than Las Vegas’, according to people around the league.

The Los Angeles Chargers held a competition for No. 2 running back snaps behind Austin Ekeler all summer between Joshua Kelley, Larry Rountree and Isaiah Spiller before Rountree was cut for Sony Michel, who was a surprise release by the Dolphins on Tuesday. Michel has his limitations as a runner, but he could pretty easily usurp that backup spot given his experience and steadiness as a between-the-tackles runner.

Finally, maybe I’m being naive and grasping onto a pre-draft crush, but I like Lynn Bowden Jr.’s potential on New England’s practice squad. He made some plays for Miami in 2020, catching 28 passes for 211 yards while lining up at slot receiver, out wide, at running back and quarterback.

It’s unclear how long Ty Montgomery will be out for the Patriots after suffering an ankle injury in New England’s final preseason game, but Bowden can potentially handle some of the same duties as Montgomery if he gets elevated to the active roster.


@JohnPerry122: Are the Cowboys being underrated with everyone talking about the Eagles?? Who is catching footballs for Dallas besides CeeDee and who is helping Diggs in that secondary?

It’s possible. But the Dallas Cowboys had a strange offseason, losing Amari Cooper, Cedrick Wilson, La’el Collins, Connor Williams, Randy Gregory, Keanu Neal and Damontae Kazee, then had some rough injury luck this summer with left tackle Tyron Smith and James Washington going down.

The Cowboys didn’t add any additional pieces at wide receiver, and they weren’t in a rush to replace Smith at left tackle.

I’m not very sold on the Cowboys this season.


@StorrCody: What's the word with Mims? Going to work it out with the Jets or is there still a trade possibility or maybe a release?

Based on comments out of New York, the Jets aren’t in a hurry to trade wide receiver Denzel Mims and believe he provides more value for the team than anything they’d receive in a trade.

The Philadelphia Eagles just got a 2023 seventh-round pick and a 2024 conditional fourth-round pick from the Minnesota Vikings for 2020 first-round pick wide receiver Jalen Reagor. Mims was a second-round pick that same year, is older and has been less productive than Reagor, so the Jets would likely need to take less in a trade.


@MiIlsWrld: How do you think CJ will do at safety for the eagles

Chauncey Gardner-Johnson was a savvy pickup for the safety-needy Philadelphia Eagles, and I’d expect him to continue playing all over the field.

Since entering the league in 2019, here’s how Gardner has graded:

  • 65.8 overall
  • 71.4 at slot cornerback
  • 68.7 at wide cornerback
  • 55.5 in the box
  • 45.4 at free safety

Marcus Epps projects to play free safety in the Eagles’ defense, which should allow Gardner-Johnson to play closer to the line of scrimmage at strong safety or in the slot. Philadelphia has a really solid secondary now with Darius Slay and James Bradberry at cornerback, Avonte Maddox in the slot and Epps and Gardner-Johnson at safety. The Eagles have done a tremendous job overall this offseason upgrading their roster and are inching closer to becoming favorites to win the NFC East over the Dallas Cowboys.

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