AFC East: AFC Roster Analysis 2012

Miami Dolphins cut-down analysis

August, 31, 2012
Click here for a complete list of Miami Dolphins' roster moves.

Most significant move: Dolphins general manager Jeff Ireland, head coach Joe Philbin and the rest of his coaching staff warned their wide receivers that they needed to step up. This is Miami's weakest area, and week after week, receivers dropped balls and failed to make plays. Still, it was surprising that Miami cut two receivers of significance: Clyde Gates and Roberto Wallace. Both were on the bubble, but at least one was expected to make the cut -- especially on a receiver-deprived team. The Dolphins also released fellow receivers Chris Hogan, B.J. Cunningham and Jeff Fuller. The Dolphins said in the spring that they liked their receivers group; clearly, those opinions changed after training camp and the preseason.

Onward and upward: Miami made two free-agent additions to help the team’s depth at linebacker this offseason: Jamaal Westerman and Gary Guyton. Both players had starting experience and had played in the AFC East. But neither fit well with Miami’s new 4-3 defense. The Dolphins decided to cut their losses and not take either on their 53-man roster. There’s a good chance other teams will be looking for veteran linebackers, and due to their experience, both have a chance to land elsewhere.

What's next: Miami should be one of the busiest teams in free agency and scanning waivers. The Dolphins are rebuilding and need a lot of upgrades and depth. Wide receiver and safety are two positions Miami certainly will have its eye on. The Dolphins have a long way to go to make their roster into a contender. Rookie quarterback Ryan Tannehill needs some assistance in his first season. So expect more changes in Miami before its Week 1 game against the Houston Texans.

New York Jets cut-down analysis

August, 31, 2012
Click here for a complete list of New York Jets roster moves.

Most significant move: There were no real significant cuts with the Jets, in my estimation. New York is a team that has a lot of talented starters but not much depth behind them. So, many of the Jets' cuts were predictable. Maybe cutting rookie sixth-round pick Terrance Ganaway was a mild surprise, but even that might be a bit of a stretch. Ganaway scored the Jets' only preseason touchdown. But the consistency wasn’t there for Ganaway all summer. Yet, it shows something that New York is willing to give up on a young draft pick so quickly and risk losing Ganaway to another team via a waiver claim. If Ganaway makes it through waivers, he is a prime candidate for the Jets' practice squad.

Onward and upward: Including Ganaway, the Jets cut three of their draft picks from this year's class. The list includes late picks Ganaway, Robert Griffin and Jordan White. Often, general managers like to hold on to their draft picks for at least a year, because it's difficult to come in and play well in the NFL right away. Maybe someone from this group will turn out to be a late-round surprise and be claimed by another team. Or maybe the Jets got the right read on three of their draft picks right away. Again, all three are practice-squad candidates.

What’s next: The Jets are similar to other AFC East teams. They are looking for depth at several positions. Look for New York to scan the wires and free agency for running backs, receivers and possibly offensive linemen. This is an offense that scored just one touchdown in four preseason games. The Jets need depth on that side of the football, to say the least.
Click here for a complete list of New England Patriots' roster moves.

Most significant move: New England cut three veterans who were important pieces the past few seasons: wide receiver Deion Branch, center Dan Koppen and backup quarterback Brian Hoyer. Koppen wasn't a huge surprise. New England played the veteran lineman extensively in the fourth preseason game -- and he was part of the issue with struggles on the offensive line this summer. But Branch and Hoyer were surprises. Branch battled some injuries but is reliable and brings plenty of leadership. The Patriots spent the past several years developing Hoyer behind quarterback Tom Brady and decided this was the time to go in another direction. Granted, Hoyer struggled this preseason and second-year quarterback Ryan Mallett played a little better. But it's a little surprising that New England didn't keep him as at least the third quarterback. Hoyer's salary probably has a lot to do with it.

Onward and upward: Jeff Demps' first attempt at the NFL was a short one. The Olympic sprinter suffered an unfortunate leg injury in the fourth quarter of the final preseason game and was put on injured reserve. Demps showed flashes in his limited time this preseason. New England signed him to a three-year contract, and now Demps has to rehab to get healthy for another try. Potential is there for 2013 with New England. I also expect Branch to be on the short list with New England if a receiver gets injured during the season. Branch might know this and not accept an offer from just any team unless it's a viable contender.

What’s next: There’s not much left to do for the reigning AFC champions. This roster is stacked and, based on their cuts, it's clear the Patriots like some of their young players. Cuts like Branch, Koppen and Hoyer prove that New England has a lot of confidence in its youngsters filling key roles.

Buffalo Bills cut-down analysis

August, 31, 2012
Click here for a complete list of Buffalo Bills' roster moves.

Most significant move: The Bills kept four quarterbacks on their roster -- sort of. Buffalo retained backup Tyler Thigpen to be the emergency quarterback behind starter Ryan Fitzpatrick and No. 2 quarterback Tarvaris Jackson. This is surprising because the Bills worked the versatile Brad Smith extensively at quarterback this offseason. But it appears the Bills aren’t fully comfortable with Smith as the No. 3 quarterback at the moment. Another significant move decision was to release three productive wide receivers. Marcus Easley, Naaman Roosevelt and Derek Hagan were all competing for the No. 2 receiver role behind starter Steve Johnson. Different receivers made plays at different times, but no one in this trio really stepped up to claim a starting role. It turns out Buffalo parted ways with all three and will stick with Donald Jones as the starter opposite Johnson. But cutting Easley, Roosevelt and Hagan certainly affects Buffalo’s depth at wide receiver.

Onward and upward: Perhaps the player cut by the Bills who will be most sought after in free agency will be defensive tackle Dwan Edwards -- a solid player who could be a starter on some teams. But Buffalo has two stud defensive tackles in Marcell Dareus and a now-healthy Kyle Williams. The Bills would’ve liked to keep Edwards, but chances are his salary was too much for the role Buffalo had in mind for him in 2012. Edwards should have no problem finding a new team. Solid defensive tackles are hard to find.

What’s next: The Bills’ starters are set. This is a team that spent a lot of money and resources in free agency and the draft to put together a roster to try to compete with the New England Patriots in the AFC East. The only question now is depth. Does Buffalo have enough quality backups to sustain through injuries? That will be the focus as the team scans the waiver wires this weekend.