AFC West: 2014 AFC roster analysis

The San Diego Chargers cut 12 players, placed three on the injured reserve list and another on the reserve/physically unable to perform (PUP) list to get down to the NFL-mandated 75 players by Tuesday’s 4 p.m. ET deadline. San Diego also acquired defensive end Joe Kruger (Eagles) through waivers.

Most significant move: Cornerback Brandon Ghee was signed in free agency as a player looking to revive his career after four injury-plagued seasons in Cincinnati. The Chargers signed the Wake Forest product to a two-year, $1.65 million deal, including a $230,000 signing bonus. At 6-foot and 200 pounds, Ghee was supposed to add size to San Diego’s secondary, but he never cracked the second unit on the depth chart, passed over by second-year pro Steve Williams and undrafted rookie free agent Chris Davis.

Flacco hangs on: Considered a developmental project, 27-year-old tight end Mike Flacco -- the younger brother of Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco -- surprisingly remains on the roster. Raw and unpolished, the former minor league baseball player struggled with running precise routes and setting the edge in the run game. But lately he hasn’t looked like a deer in headlights, making a few plays during preseason action. Led by tight ends coach Pete Metzelaars and future Hall of Famer Antonio Gates, Flacco has some good mentors to learn from if he can stay with the organization as a member of the practice squad.

Chargers' moves: San Diego released 12 players -- OT Nick Becton, FB Zach Boren, TE Jake Byrne, WR Brelan Chancellor, LB Adrian Hamilton, WR Micah Hatfield, OL D.J. Johnson, TE Ryan Otten, CB Lowell Rose, P Chase Tenpenny, CB Brandon Ghee and RB Kerwynn Williams. The Chargers placed DT Kwame Geathers, DT Ricky Tjong-A-Tjoe and CB Marcus Cromartie on the injured reserve list, and moved offensive lineman Jeromey Clary to the reserve physically unable to perform (PUP) list -- which means he will miss the first six games of the regular season.
Most significant move: The Raiders put 2013 first-round pick D.J. Hayden on the physically unable to perform list to start the season. He will be out at least the first six weeks of the season. He had foot surgery in June. Initially, the Raiders said the issue was minor. But clearly, it has been a significant issue for a player who has not been able to stay healthy. The Raiders took Hayden early despite suffering a heart issue that nearly killed him in November 2012. His rookie season was ended early due to a sports hernia. Last week, Oakland defensive coordinator Jason Tarver said Hayden is suffering from missed practice time. He will be further behind when he returns. The Raiders have had many questionable first-round draft picks in recent history. It is probably too early to call Hayden a bust, but he, at the very least, looks like an overdraft.

Camp star cut: The Raiders cut receiver Juron Criner. He was a fifth-round pick in 2012. Criner was famous for making circus catches in training camp. However, the light never came on during the season. He made essentially no NFL impact as a Raider.

What’s next: The Raiders have to pare down their roster to 53 players by 1 p.m. PT Saturday.

Raiders' moves: QB Trent Edwards, WR Juron Criner, S Larry Asante, WR Greg Jenkins, RB Kory Sheets (all waived-injured); G Lucas Nix (waived/failed physical); TE Nick Kasa, injured reserve; CB D.J. Hayden, PUP.

Kansas City Chiefs cut-down analysis

August, 26, 2014
Most significant move: When the Kansas City Chiefs released Jerron McMillian, they parted ways with their only reserve safety who has started an NFL game. Two of the four backup safety candidates, Jonathon Amaya and Kelcie McCray, have NFL experience, but the others, Malcolm Bronson and undrafted rookie Daniel Sorensen, have never played in an NFL game. This should be of concern because starter Eric Berry has yet to play in a preseason game because of what the Chiefs are calling tendonitis in his heel. Berry has returned to practice, but look for the Chiefs to shop for an experienced backup depending on how they feel about Berry's prospects of making it through the season.

Dressler gets released: Former CFL star Weston Dressler didn’t even make it to the final round of cuts. Dressler never showed the skills for the Chiefs that made him a prolific receiver in the CFL, and it became obvious early in training camp Dressler wasn't going to stick with the Chiefs. After signing Dressler, the Chiefs drafted a small, fast slot receiver candidate in De'Anthony Thomas and signed another one in Albert Wilson. Both players showed more aptitude for the NFL game as a receiver and kick return specialist than Dressler did.

What’s next: The Chiefs still have interesting roster decisions at several positions. Among them is quarterback, where they will likely have to decide between developmental candidates Tyler Bray and rookie Aaron Murray. At wide receiver, the Chiefs have to decide whether younger players like Frankie Hammond Jr. and Albert Wilson are more valuable as backups than returning players such as Junior Hemingway and A.J. Jenkins. The Chiefs will also have to choose between veteran kicker Ryan Succop and rookie Cairo Santos.

Chiefs' cuts: WR Deon Anthony, DL Jairus Campbell, DB Sanders Commings, DL Jermelle Cudjo, WR Weston Dressler, OL Otis Hudson, WR Jerrell Jackson, CB Brandon Jones, CB Vernon Kearney, OL Ryan McKee, DB Jerron McMillian, CB Kevin Rutland, TE Adam Schiltz, CB Damond Smith, WR Darryl Surgent.

Denver Broncos cut-down analysis

August, 26, 2014
Most significant move: There may be no more difficult place on the roster for a young player to earn the trust of the coaching staff than on the offensive line. So much so that Orlando Franklin is the last Broncos' offensive linemen to start as a rookie, and he did it in 2011 -- John Fox's first season as the team's coach. But rookie Michael Schofield, a third-round pick in the May draft, and Paul Cornick, who spent the 2013 season on the team's practice squad, have shown enough to convince the Broncos to part ways with Winston Justice in the first round of cuts. Justice went through much of the early work in offseason workouts as Ryan Clady's backup at left tackle and got plenty of snaps in an audition as the starting right tackle as well. But the Broncos chose youth, and Justice, who is headed into his ninth season, was sent on his way.

Wild card: Often when the Broncos make this first round of roster cuts, there are actually players they want to bring back for the practice squad on the list. But to do that, the players must clear waivers, so sometimes the thinking is with rosters still at 75 around the league, teams may be less inclined to claim one of those players on waivers. Running back Brennan Clay, wide receiver Greg Wilson, wide receiver Greg Hardin and defensive tackle Will Pericak certainly fit that profile. Clay's play tapered off slightly as camp wore on, but during offseason work there were some with the Broncos who believed he had the best hands as a pass-catcher of anyone at the position. But he wasn't always assignment sound in recent days and wasn't going to get past fellow undrafted rookie Juwan Thompson on the depth chart.

Broncos' cuts: LB Jamar Chaney (moved to injured reserve), RB Brennan Clay, WR Greg Hardin, LB Jerrell Harris, T Winston Justice, defensive tackle Cody Larsen, S Charles Mitchell, WR Jordan Norwood, DT Will Pericak, quarterback Bryn Renner, DE Chase Vaughn (waived injured), RB Jerodis Williams and WR Greg Wilson. Norwood was a good bet to make the roster as a sixth receiver and punt returner until he tore his left ACL last week.