AFC East: 2014 NFL roster analysis

Miami Dolphins cut-down analysis

August, 26, 2014
Most significant move: Miami Dolphins quarterback Brady Quinn was the biggest release in terms of name recognition. The former 2007 first-round pick joined Miami about two weeks ago but was put in a rough spot to learn a new offense months after everyone else. Dolphins backup quarterback Matt Moore played well once Quinn arrived. Receiver Armon Binns also was a quality player who was cut but has a chance to help out another team. The Dolphins have a lot of depth at wide receiver.

Pouncey factor: The Dolphins' toughest roster decision this week doesn't involve cutting a player. Miami must decide by Saturday at 4 p.m. ET whether to save a roster spot for injured Pro Bowl center Mike Pouncey or put him on the physically unable to perform list, which would guarantee he sits the first six games of the regular season. Pouncey had major hip surgery this summer and missed all of training camp and the preseason. The initial prognosis for Pouncey was to miss four to seven games. However, Pouncey has looked strong in rehab and believes he’s ahead of schedule. The Dolphins will get a firm medical update on Pouncey this week to decide how much time off he needs.

What’s next: The Dolphins will host the St. Louis Rams on Thursday at Sun Life Stadium. Then Miami will have to cut 22 more players on Saturday to get to its final 53-man roster.

Dolphins’ cuts: QB Brady Quinn, WR Armon Binns, TE Arthur Lynch, DT A.J. Francis, RB Mike Gillislee, TE Brett Brackett, CB Steven Clarke, DE Rakim Cox, DT Cory Grissom, C Tyler Larsen, WR Ryan Spadola, K John Potter, OT Steven Baker, S Demetrius Wright.
Most significant move: On a day when nothing could trump the trade of veteran offensive lineman Logan Mankins, the one name that stood above the rest in terms of cuts is rookie defensive back Jemea Thomas. A sixth-round draft choice out of Georgia Tech (206th overall), Thomas is a versatile player who was expected to compete for a roster spot. After sustaining an injury on the first day of training camp and missing extended time, it set him back and he obviously never made up the lost ground. Perhaps the 5-foot-10, 195-pound Thomas could potentially return on the practice squad, depending on how things shake out with the rest of the roster. The Patriots have plenty of depth in the defensive backfield.

Revisiting Gaffney waiver claim: The Patriots were willing to carry injured rookie running back Tyler Gaffney on their 90-man roster until this cut-down day, and by officially moving him to injured reserve, it reminds us that the Panthers could have done the same if they wanted to keep their sixth-round pick. Gaffney factors into the running back mix in 2015, as the Patriots have three players on their current roster -- Stevan Ridley, Shane Vereen and Brandon Bolden -- who are scheduled to become free agents after this season.

What's next: With the roster at 75 players, the Patriots must trim to 53 with the rest of NFL teams on Aug. 30. They have their preseason finale Aug. 28 on the road against the Giants.

Patriots’ cuts: DL Ben Bass, DB Travis Hawkins, WR Derrick Johnson, LB Deontae Skinner, DB Jemea Thomas, WR Wilson Van Hooser

Patriots to injured reserve: RB Tyler Gaffney, LB Cameron Gordon

Buffalo Bills cut-down analysis

August, 25, 2014
Most significant move: The Buffalo Bills releasing quarterback Dennis Dixon reduces the depth chart at the position to three players as the team heads into the preseason finale. Dixon saw his first action of the preseason in Saturday's loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and didn't fare well, losing control of the ball three times in his six snaps. Coach Doug Marrone said he wanted to give Dixon a shot but he pulled him after that drive because of the ball security issues. The Bills now have Jeff Tuel and Thad Lewis rounding out the depth chart behind EJ Manuel. Will it stay that way? Lewis' roster spot may still be tenuous, and I would expect the Bills to keep a close eye on the waiver wire for backup options at quarterback.

Special teams competitions over: Kicker Dustin Hopkins and punter Jake Dombrowski were both waived, ending competitions at both positions. Hopkins had been battling for a spot as a kickoff specialist but ultimately didn't show a marked difference in that area over Dan Carpenter, who was already considered better on field goals. Dombrowski didn't punt at all in Saturday's loss and never got his footing against 38-year-old incumbent Brian Moorman. I wouldn't rule out the Bills monitoring the waiver wire for another punter, given Moorman's struggles Saturday. Two of his punts went for 27 and 34 yards in the open field.

Bills' cuts: QB Dennis Dixon, RB Ronnie Wingo, WR Tori Gurley, WR Chris Summers, C Macky MacPherson, G J.J. Unga, DT Damien Jacobs, S JaJuan Harley, S Derek Brim, K Dustin Hopkins, P Jake Dombrowski

New York Jets: Cut-down analysis

August, 24, 2014
Most significant move: The decision to release wide receiver/kickoff returner Jacoby Ford came as a mild surprise, mostly because he didn't even make the cut to 75. The Jets took a flyer on a flyer, giving the speester a one-year, $740,000 contract (including a $65,000 signing bonus). They expected him to upgrade the kickoff-return unit and stretch the field as a vertical receiver, but his sprinter's speed never translated into production. Quite simply, he had trouble catching the ball. Given a chance to return punts, Ford muffed a punt on Friday night against the New York Giants. The Jets see Saalim Hakim, a former undrafted free agent, as a similar player with more upside.

Wild card: The Jets cut cornerback Ras-I Dowling amid a crisis at cornerback. That should tell you something about how they feel about Dowling, a former second-round pick of the New England Patriots. The Jets groomed Dowling last season on the practice squad and got excited in minicamp when he flashed some ability. For fleeting moments, they thought maybe, just maybe they had scored with a Bill Belichick castoff. Uh, not exactly. If you don't know by now, Belichick is a smart guy, not in the habit of dropping good players. Dowling was slowed by injuries in New England, and he was hampered this summer by a groin injury. Same old, same old.

What's next: The roster is down to 75, which means they have to make 22 moves by Saturday. The toughest decisions will occur at wide receiver, where nine players are battling for probably six spots. Eric Decker and Jeremy Kerley are locks. David Nelson is a near lock. Fourth-round pick Jalen Saunders appears to be healthy now, so he'll probably make it. General manager John Idzik hates to cut draft picks. Rex Ryan identified Hakim as his No. 1 kickoff returner, so you have to figure he's in good shape. The last spot could be Stephen Hill versus Greg Salas. Salas has outplayed the underachieving Hill, but Hill's potential still intrigues. Another key area is cornerback, depleted by injuries. Idzik needs to put on his GM cap and import a competent, veteran corner.

Jets moves: Released Ford, Dowling, WR Michael Campbell, TE Colin Anderson, FB Chad Young, DE Anthony Grady, RB Michael Smith, OT Bruce Campbell, G Patrick Ford, OT Markus Zusevics, LB Steele Divitto, PK Andrew Furney and P Jacob Schum.