Every year there are some surprise roster cuts in training camp. Some of these players have value but are either in need of a change of scenery or are just highly overpaid. The hoopla of signing a high priced free agent often ends with the team needing to “cut” some payroll so they can pay some other player.
Here are six players who could conceivably end up on Joe Douglas’ radar.
Artie Burns came to the Steelers as a 1st round pick in 2016 (25th overall) and has been a major disappointment. The Steelers have no one to blame but themselves. Burns has talent, good size and good speed (4,46/40) but was a very raw player coming out of the U. He was severely overdrafted and flung into a starting position he was ill-equipped to handle. He was benched last year in favor of Coty Sensabaugh (a player who is currently a free agent the Jets should look at) who did a much better job.
The problem is that in the NFL the more games you play the more teams build a book on you as a player. They watch film on a player. They find then exploit weaknesses in their games. Pittsburgh has always had a good pass rush that hid some faults with defensive backs, but you can’t stay hidden forever. Teams do their homework, especially in the off season, then make you pay.
Here is Burns in coverage actually making a play.
This play was the exception and not the norm for Burns in spite of his talent. On this play he was fortunate to have the blitz so he could sit on this route. He has very poor technique and would need to be coached up to become a player the Jets could count on. Some players need a change of scenery, and the anguish that Burns has gone through in Pittsburgh may be too difficult for him to revive his career there.
His first two years were good as he started 25 of 32 games with 26 passes defended and 4 INTs along with 118 tackles. Last year he started the first 6 games and had 1 pass defended and 22 tackles in 16 games total. The Steelers might want to cut the string on Burns.
He would probably need a total teardown and rebuild of his technique by a dedicated coach for him to reach his potential. During that time he could play as a nickel or dime back until he works his way into more playing time.
The total dumpster fire that exists in our nation’s capital (the football team I’m talking about) is turning a once proud franchise into a debacle. Josh Norman has great talent but only when he feels appreciated and plays within the scope of the defense. When he starts to freelance he gets himself in trouble. He was great in Carolina and got a boatload of money from Dan Snyder, but now things are trending downhill.
Norman was once feared as a defender but last year he was targeted on 73 passes. Great defenders tend not to be targeted 73 times in a season.
Norman had a PFF grade below 70. He has a cap hit of $14.3 million. The team from Washington could save $12.5 million of cap space by cutting him. Considering that Washington has only $11.3 million in cap space left and still owes a boatload of cash ($27 million signing bonus & $55 million guaranteed) to a QB who will probably never play for them again they could use the cap space.
Here Norman is against a Cleveland sitting in the hip pocket of a receiver and making a play.
Norman is nearing 32 years old (32 in December) and is not an elite defender anymore. That said, I think a change of venue could invigorate him for a year or two. He could provide some above average play until the Jets draft some younger players to take his place.
I would not give him a huge deal, but a two year contract with most of the first year guaranteed (6 or 7 million) would be decent. The Jets are a team without a lot of depth right now. A veteran with skills would be a huge help especially in the secondary.
With the injury to AveryWilliamson the depth chart of the Jets at ILB is getting scary. Players who were once going to be role players are now destined to play heavy snaps. Whether they are ready to do that is anyone’s guess, but there is a solution.
Like Josh Norman, Sean Lee is no longer the player he once was. Injuries have taken a toll on him, but when he is healthy he is a smart, effective ILB. He would not have to play heavy snaps with the Jets but could be a great bridge until some younger players are ready to take over. Dallas has cap space needs like few other teams, and cutting Lee (who is no longer needed) would save about $3 million.
A great open field tackler, Lee would be a nice complement to C.J. Mosley and a great mentor to the younger ILBs on the roster. Here he is against the Eagles defending a screen pass.
Lee wouldn’t cost a bunch of money at this point of his career and would make a solid bridge until the younger guys can take over as the starters. He is known as a great teammate, a positive voice in the locker room, and a quality leader.
A. J. Bouye
Bouye may seem like a surprise player on this list, but Jacksonville has only $18 million in cap space and needs to sign some young players. You know Jalen Ramsey is going to want to break the bank. Bouye got a $67.5 million contract, and last year he allowed 41 receptions on 61 targets into his coverage which is not worth the $15.5 million he was paid.
Bouye is 28 years old and would expect a nice contract so we would need to see if Joe Douglas wants to hand out that kind of money to a player who underperformed last year.
Jacksonville was a turmoil filled team in 2018, but it is difficult to say which players were the problems and which were not. Either way, a new start may be just what the doctor ordered for Bouye.
Here he is intercepting Philip Rivers of the Chargers.
Bouye would fill a huge hole in the Jet defense. He was an elite defender at one time and still has the skillset and talent to be that type of player again.
I added Agholor to the list because the writing is on the wall in Philly for their former first round selection. He is in a contract year. The team brought in DeSean Jackson as a free agent and drafted J. J. Arcega-Whiteside to go along with Alshon Jeffery. Joe Douglas is of course well informed about Agholor since the two were in Philly together. This is the only reason I put him on my list. Maybe Joe has inside info on Agholor to which the public is not privy.
Agholor has averaged about 3 receptions a game and 4 TDs a year for his career. He will be entering his fifth season in his prime (age 26) so his best football may be in front of him. He has already improved from some early career struggles.
Agholor has developed into a decent receiver who can play in the slot or outside. Here is a nice play against the Chiefs.
The Jets have some good depth at the receiver position with young unproven talent on the back end. Agholor could slide right behind Jamison Crowder on the pecking order and be a nice addition. Injuries always happen. You can’t have enough depth at any position let alone an important position like wide receiver.
Joseph was a reach of a first round pick by the Raiders who has no ties to the current regime. He was the 14th overall selection in the 2016 Draft, three picks ahead of Keanu Neal who was a far superior player. Oakland has already declined Joseph’s 5th year option and drafted safety Johnathan Abram with the 27th pick in this year’s Draft. The writing is on the wall for Joseph in Oakland.
Joseph is not a bad player. He is just not as good as his Draft position. If he had been a third round pick the expectations would have been spot on. Here he is in man coverage coming a long way to make a play.
Joseph is a little small for the position as a box safety (5’ 10” 200 lbs) but makes up for it by being a ferocious tackler and a highly aggressive attitude. He will turn 26 the first week of the season so he is entering his prime playing years. He would be depth behind Jamal Adams and could play a hybrid LB on passing downs covering TEs and RBs. He would be a nice depth piece in a secondary in need of depth.
These are a few of the names that are being bandied about as possible cuts in the next two weeks. We here at GGN will of course keep our ear to the ground to try and keep you abreast of other possible cuts.
So breathe easy. There are possible solutions to our problems in the future (we hope), and I am sure that Joe Douglas is much more aware of the situation then we are.
So what do you think? Who do you like? All of them? None?