AFC East: AFC Roster Analysis 2011

New York Jets cutdown analysis

September, 3, 2011
Check here for a complete list of the New York Jets' roster moves.

Surprise moves: With a surplus of defensive backs, the Jets traded cornerback/safety Dwight Lowery to the Jaguars for a conditional draft pick. They will miss his versatility and his penchant for making clutch plays, but they felt comfortable with four safeties and six corners.

That they didn’t acquire an experienced backup offensive lineman was a surprise. They’re perilously thin on the line. They acquired rookie guard Caleb Schlauderaff from the Packers, but he’s a project. He’s nasty as a run-blocker but extremely limited in pass protection.

Former Bills bust Aaron Maybin made the 53, but the undersized pass-rusher isn’t a lock to make the opening-day roster despite a flashy performance in the final preseason game.

No-brainers: None of the 26 cuts shocked anyone. Going into the final preseason game, 50 of the 53 spots were decided, according to Rex Ryan. The Jets are playing the continuity card this season, which makes sense in the post-lockout world. In fact, they have 19 returning starters.

What’s next: With rookie quarterback Greg McElroy (thumb surgery) out indefinitely, they need a No. 3 quarterback behind Mark Sanchez and Mark Brunell. Possibilities include two former Jets -- Kellen Clemens and Kevin O’Connell, both of whom were released Saturday. They’re still looking for experienced offensive linemen, but it’s a thin market.

Miami Dolphins cutdown analysis

September, 3, 2011
Check here for a complete list of the Miami Dolphins' roster moves.

Surprise moves: Although I wouldn't call either move shocking, the Dolphins terminated the contracts of big-name veterans Larry Johnson and Will Allen.

Johnson was trying to restart his career and had a chance to be Miami's third tailback. Instead, Miami will go with Reggie Bush, Daniel Thomas and Lex Hilliard. Allen was prone to injuries in recent seasons, and his release could be a financial move. He was slated to make $1.5 million in 2011.

Miami also terminated the contract of starting fullback Lousaka Polite, which was a curious move. Fullbacks are decreasing in value in today's pass-happy NFL, but Polite was a popular player in Miami.

No-brainers: The Dolphins didn't like what they saw in backup quarterbacks Pat Devlin and Kevin O'Connell. Some NFL teams are going into the season with two quarterbacks. But the Dolphins probably will look for another player to develop behind starting quarterback Chad Henne and backup Matt Moore.

What’s next: Do not be surprised if the Dolphins are one of the teams in the market for a big name. Given Bush's durability questions and Thomas' rookie status, free-agent running back Chester Taylor should at least be up for discussion in Miami. The Dolphins do not need a primary tailback but could use someone proven to add stability. The New England Patriots also confirmed safety Brandon Meriweather's release on Saturday evening. He is an upgrade over what the Dolphins currently have and would provide an opportunity to take a good player from a division rival.
Check here for a complete list of the New England Patriots‘ roster moves.

Surprise move: There was plenty of speculation about safety Brandon Meriweather's future after he played into the fourth quarter with the second unit in Thursday’s exhibition finale against the New York Giants, but it was still a surprise when the Patriots outright released the former first-round pick (24th overall in the 2007 draft) on Saturday. After releasing veteran James Sanders as part of the previous cutdowns, the Patriots further turned over that position, waving goodbye to a player who’s been to the Pro Bowl in each of the past two seasons.

The team also raised some eyebrows by releasing defensive end Eric Moore, a starter at season’s end last year, but the additions of veterans such as Mark Anderson and Shaun Ellis on the defensive line made him expendable. Wide receiver Brandon Tate, who was the team’s primary kick returner and No. 3 receiver last year, got edged by more versatile bodies, and veteran running back Sammy Morris was a victim of an influx of young talent at running back.

No-brainers: First-year players like offensive lineman Thomas Austin, running back Eric Kettani, and defensive back Ross Ventrone, as well as rookies linebacker Markell Carter, defensive lineman Aaron Lavarias, defensive end Alex Silvestro, tight end Lee Smith and tight end Will Yeatman were longer shots to make the roster. The release of two young tight ends (Smith and Yeatman) is a bit surprising given New England’s love of three tight-end sets and no pure fullback. (Could veteran Alge Crumpler be on the radar?)

What’s next: The Patriots are certainly in the market for safety help, and with backup guard Rich Ohrnberger placed on season-ending injured reserve, the team is thin on the interior line. Remember that this team rarely sits idle after cutdowns. Expect the Patriots to tweak their roster further based on what becomes available from cutdowns across the league.

Buffalo Bills cutdown analysis

September, 3, 2011
Check here for a complete list of the Buffalo Bills' roster moves

Surprise moves: The Bills cut veteran center Geoff Hangartner, who started 28 games the past two seasons. Hangartner was beat out this summer by center Eric Wood but shouldn't have a problem finding another job. Hangartner reportedly was scheduled to make $2.55 million this season.

Some might classify tight end Shawn Nelson as a surprise cut. But I'm not shocked. Nelson started 12 games as a rookie in 2009. Since then, it's been one bad thing after another. He's been suspended and had trouble staying healthy. The Bills simply ran out of patience.

Defensive back Reggie Corner also was released, which hurts the team's depth at cornerback.

No-brainers: Quarterback Levi Brown was a long shot from the beginning. The 2010 seventh-round pick had his moments in the preseason but didn't do enough to warrant a roster spot.

Starting quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick and backup Tyler Thigpen were locks. Utility player Brad Smith can also play some quarterback, if needed. So Brown had an uphill battle to persuade Buffalo to keep three true quarterbacks (four if you count Smith).

The Bills also waived injured 2010 fifth-round pick Ed Wang (shoulder). The offensive tackle received a lot of press for being the first player of Chinese descent drafted in the NFL. Wang struggled to stay healthy.

What's next: The Bills' first order of business is to try to get rookie defensive tackle Michael Jasper and receiver Naaman Roosevelt on the practice squad. After that, Buffalo's options should be pretty open. Look for the Bills to scan the waiver wires in search of depth and experience, particularly on the offensive line after the loss of Hangartner.