• Bailey Zappe's surprise release: After creating a quarterback competition in New England a season ago, Zappe is on the hunt for a new team — and many should look to acquire his services.
• Bradley Roby brings valuable experience: Roby posted career-low numbers last season but is a proven cornerback who can provide good depth.
• The kicker frenzy continues: A bevy of kicker trades went down before the cut deadline, and now Cade York finds himself looking for a new team.
Estimated Reading Time: 4 minutes
A very busy 2023 roster cutdown day ended with a few surprises after an otherwise straightforward afternoon, with the New England Patriots shocking the football world by releasing backup quarterback Bailey Zappe. The 2022 fourth-round pick, who looked competent and comfortable in regular-season action last year, leads our list of waived or released players who could improve the 31 other rosters.
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QB Bailey Zappe
The New England Patriots are down to just Mac Jones in their quarterback room for now, just months removed from head coach Bill Belichick refusing to answer whether Jones or Zappe was the starter over a stretch of tumultuous weeks in 2022. Zappe earned a 74.0 passing grade on 99 dropbacks from Week 4 to Week 7, averaging more than 9.0 yards per attempt in his two starts — both wins — with three total touchdowns to one interception.
While Zappe can operate within the play and deliver the ball on time, he had just one big-time throw over 92 pass attempts and took six sacks with a 23.1% pressure-to-sack rate, fumbling four times. Preseason Week 3 may have sealed his fate, as he earned a 28.3 grade with three fumbles.
Zappe is a limited athlete but could make a good backup quarterback for a lot of teams, and we wouldn’t be surprised if he was claimed off waivers. First and foremost, Zappe needs to develop a feel for pressure so he stops coughing up the football.
CB Bradley Roby
Roby brings significant experience — including a Super Bowl ring — as well as the versatility to play effectively out wide or in the slot. Over the past two seasons, Roby logged 488 snaps out wide and 424 in the slot, demonstrating a true ability to start at either spot. The former first-round pick in 2014 was traded to New Orleans for a third-round pick in 2021 and quickly jumped into the rotation out wide.
Roby earned a 67.2 coverage grade in 2021, his third straight above 65.0, but that number plummeted to a career-low 49.6 in 2022. Roby also earned the worst run-defense grade of his career and missed tackles at the second-highest rate in any season. That said, New Orleans is replacing him with 2022 second-round pick Alontae Taylor, and Roby is still capable of providing good depth to many teams across the league.
Robbie Chosen is not far removed from a 95-reception, 1,096-yard season in 2020 with the Carolina Panthers and can still stretch the field for a handful of teams in 2023. The speedster broke off a 75-yard reception in Week 1 of 2022, finishing with a stat line of five receptions for 102 yards and a touchdown. From that point on, with Carolina and eventually Arizona, the production wasn’t really there, but Chosen’s 14.6-yard average depth of target was near the top of the NFL.
While things obviously went south in a hurry for York in Cleveland, his getting waived is in part due to the nature of the position in the NFL. For the Browns, in particular, this is a total do-or-die season for every single person in the building, and they can’t take the risk of carrying a struggling kicker into the season.
York’s talent was immediately apparent during his rookie campaign, going 4-of-4 on field goals with a 58-yard game-winner and being named AFC Special Teams Player of the Week in his debut. Things went downhill almost immediately, with missed extra points in back-to-back games, including in a 31-30 loss to the New York Jets in Week 2.
The struggles carried over into this preseason, but we’ve seen many examples of a highly drafted kicker getting a fresh start and jump-starting their career, with Matt Gay and Daniel Carlson being recent success stories.