The biggest story among the NFL cuts on Saturday was the Rams releasing defensive end Michael Sam. The biggest name among the cuts, from a football standpoint, was cornerback Champ Bailey.
Going to New Orleans was supposed to be the last chapter in Bailey’s great career. He never got to write a page in that chapter. The Saints decided to eat the $500,000 signing bonus they invested in Bailey this offseason and cut the longtime Broncos and Redskins defensive back.
Bailey is a 12-time Pro Bowler, but has lost a step at age 36. He struggled for the Broncos in last season’s Super Bowl loss to Seattle. He played in just five games last season because of injuries. There are a lot of teams in the NFL who could use help at cornerback, but it will be interesting to see if any take a shot on Bailey, a likely Hall of Famer.
Here were the rest of the biggest stories from around the league as teams cut their rosters down to 53 players:
Jets: They admitted a massive mistake in their final cuts, dumping receiver Stephen Hill, the 43rd pick of the draft two years ago. Hill looked the part, at 6-foot-4, 215 pounds, but had just 45 catches for 594 yards and four touchdowns in two years. Receiver Alshon Jeffery, selected two picks later, has become a star with the Bears.
Hill will likely get another chance, as a team looks at Hill’s situation – playing in one of the NFL’s worst passing offenses each of the past two years – and figures he can be productive in a better setting. In some biting comments to USA Today, Hill’s agent had the same thought.
"Two years in that kind of situation is disheartening,” Hill’s agent Alan Herman told USA Today. "He didn't have a chance that first year with that whole Tim Tebow-Mark Sanchez fiasco. ... His second year, Geno Smith was learning how to play quarterback. So they never threw the ball deep because they wanted to simplify things for Geno."
The Jets also cut Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd, a sixth-round pick in May.
Redskins: Washington cut three running backs who could latch on elsewhere: Evan Royster, Lache Seastrunk and Chris Thompson. Seastrunk had an 80-yard touchdown in the fourth preseason game, but the speedster from Baylor was too limited to beat out Silas Redd for the third tailback spot.
Cowboys: Among Dallas’ cuts was running back Ryan Williams, a second-round pick of the Arizona Cardinals in 2011 who has never fully recovered from a knee injury suffered as a rookie.
Giants: They put receiver Mario Manningham and kick returner Trindon Holliday on injured reserve. Manningham will always be known in Giants lore for a huge fourth-quarter catch on the sideline in Super Bowl XLVI to help beat the New England Patriots, but injuries have derailed his career since then. He tried to rekindle his career after two mostly lost seasons with the San Francisco 49ers, but a calf injury forced him to IR.
Lions: After adding Golden Tate in free agency, receiver Kris Durham became expendable. Durham, who had 490 yards last season and was a college teammate of Detroit quarterback Matthew Stafford, was cut. So was running back Mikel Leshoure, a 2011 second-round pick.
Browns: Cleveland cut promising rookie quarterback Connor Shaw in order to keep 34-year-old Rex Grossman as its third quarterback, according to Yahoo's Rand Getlin. That's a downright bizarre and wasteful move by a team in rebuilding mode.
Receiver Nate Burleson, who just turned 33, couldn’t make a team that has one of the worst receiving corps in the NFL. He was cut on Saturday, according to multiple reports, and it’s fair to wonder if Burleson’s career is over after 457 catches with the Vikings, Seahawks and Lions. The Browns also reportedly cut cornerback Leon McFadden, a third-round pick just last year.
Seahawks: The Terrelle Pryor experiment ended after the preseason. The former Raiders quarterback and Ohio State star was 11-of-17 for 134 yards and a touchdown in the fourth preseason game, but that wasn’t enough to earn a roster spot. At 25 years old he could get another look, perhaps from the Rams, who lost starter Sam Bradford for the season.
Eagles: Philadelphia cut Alex Henery, who has been the team’s kicker since he was a fourth-round pick in 2011. The Eagles will go with rookie Cody Parkey, who showed more range on field goals this preseason.
Bengals: When the Bengals drafted Jeremy Hill in the second round, BenJarvus Green-Ellis was not long for Cincinnati’s roster. Green-Ellis, who carried the ball 498 times for the Bengals the last two years and had 13 touchdowns, was cut.
Chargers: San Diego had high hopes for Vincent Brown when it took him in the third round of the 2011 draft, but he never paid off for the Chargers. Brown, who missed the 2012 season with an ankle injury, had 60 catches for 801 yards and three touchdowns in his other two seasons, was released.
Dolphins: Running back Daniel Thomas, a 2011 second-round pick, highlighted Miami’s final cuts. Thomas averaged 3.6 yards per carry in his three Dolphins seasons.
Broncos: Safety Duke Ihenacho, who started at safety all last season for the Broncos including in their Super Bowl loss, was cut. Ihenacho is a good safety in run support but not as adept in coverage, and Denver upgraded at strong safety when it signed T.J. Ward this offseason. Denver also cut defensive tackle Kevin Vickerson, who started Denver’s first 11 games last season before suffering a season-ending hip injury.
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