NFC East: NFC roster analysis 2013

New York Giants cut-down analysis

August, 31, 2013
8/31/13
6:43
PM ET
Most significant move: It was 2011 second-round draft pick Marvin Austin who was the odd man out of the numbers game at defensive tackle when the New York Giants announced their final roster cuts Saturday night. Austin was beaten out for a roster spot by former Eagle Mike Patterson, whose final two years in Philadelphia were negatively impacted by a brain condition for which he underwent surgery. Patterson and veteran Shaun Rogers were impressive in camp and will join a deep defensive tackle rotation along with starters Linval Joseph and Cullen Jenkins as well as 2013 second-rounder Johnathan Hankins. The reason the move is possibly significant is that this was the position from which the Giants were most likely to cut someone who could be of use to another team. If I'm the Dallas Cowboys, who are banged-up and shorthanded on the defensive line and play the Giants eight days from right now I'm looking into Austin if only for some intel on the enemy. Austin showed potential, but early-career injury issues held back his development, and he didn't perform well enough this offseason to earn a place on the team.

Shorthanded September?: Obviously, there are always more moves to come in the next few days as the Giants sort through the waiver process and see which players who just became available today could be of use to them. One spot where the Giants likely will look to beef up is at running back. They terminated the contract of Ryan Torain, leaving them with four running backs on the roster -- starter David Wilson, backups Michael Cox and Da'Rel Scott and "co-starter" Andre Brown, who's likely out four to six weeks with a fracture in his left leg. Keeping Brown indicates that the Giants do indeed expect him back at some point during the season, but it also leaves them with only three healthy backs to start the season. It's possible they could put Brown on injured reserve with a designation to return this season, but they can't do that until Tuesday. If they did, they could add a running back (or a player at some other position). Brown is one of at least seven players (along with Victor Cruz, Henry Hynoski, David Baas, David Diehl, Jason Pierre-Paul and Damontre Moore) whose status for the early part of the season is in doubt or worse due to injury, so there may not be a lot of wiggle room in picking inactives for the opener.

What's next: Based on performance, the release of Tyler Sash isn't overly surprising, but it does leave the Giants thin at the safety position and leads you to believe they'll try to acquire another safety at some point this week. The first name that will jump to mind is that of former Giant Kenny Phillips, who obviously knows the defense and was released by the Eagles last week. But don't assume they'll view Phillips as their best option. The main reason they let him go this offseason was their concern that he'd never be able to get his knee fully healthy, and the reason the Eagles (who aren't exactly strong at safety themselves) let him go was because he couldn't get healthy enough to practice. The Giants like what rookie Cooper Taylor has shown lately, and they like Will Hill as an option at safety, so they may decide they only need to weather the four games for which Hill is suspended to start the season. While Phillips is a possibility, there will be other choices, and likely a few the Giants like better.

Giants moves:

Waived: DE Matt Broha, OT Stephen Goodin, S David Caldwell, OL Matt McCants, CB Charles James, CB Terrence Frederick, WR Julian Talley, LB Kyle Bosworth, DE Adrian Tracy, DE Adewale Ojomo, DT Marvin Austin, OL Eric Herman, OL Bryant Browning, WR Kevin Hardy, WR Marcus Harris

Contracts terminated: QB David Carr, RB Ryan Torain

Waived/injured: S Tyler Sash, OL Selvish Capers

Reserve/physically unable to perform list: DT Markus Kuhn (knee)

Injured reserve: WR Ramses Barden (knee)

Suspended: S Will Hill

Washington Redskins cut-down analysis

August, 31, 2013
8/31/13
6:43
PM ET
Most significant move: Keeping four quarterbacks with back-from-the-dead Pat White making the roster. Anyone who saw White throw early in spring workouts would not have predicted this scenario. But White, who has been out of the NFL the past three seasons, improved throughout the summer and the coaches genuinely liked what they saw. One coach predicted earlier in the week that he would be on someone’s roster. White showed he can still run and mastered the slant routes and digs. He still needs to work on finesse throws and prove he can make throws into tight windows over the middle, but his improvement was noticeable.

However, keeping four is still a lot. But with Kirk Cousins nursing a sprained right foot and with Robert Griffin III not having played in the preseason, the Redskins might just keep White around for the first couple of games. They have roster exemptions for end Jarvis Jenkins and linebacker Rob Jackson, both suspended for the first four games, so they could make this sort of move. If Griffin and Cousins both stay healthy, it’s hard to see this being a long-term situation. Still, White made big strides after a rough start.

The Redskins also opted to keep running back Evan Royster, who perhaps saved his job with a strong preseason finale at Tampa Bay. He's one of five running backs along with speedy rookie Chris Thompson.

Gone, but not yet forgotten: The Redskins would like to re-sign a number of their released players to the practice squad, including Chase Minnifield, Nick Williams, Tevita Stevens, Will Compton and tight end Emmanuel Ogbuehi, among others. Minnifield’s release was a surprise, given how the coaches talked about him during camp and his physical style in press coverage -- and with the loss of corner Richard Crawford. But the coaches liked corner Jerome Murphy’s physical style as well – and his special teams ability. Williams is an intriguing prospect as a slot receiver and punt returner. Ogbeuhi is a raw prospect who needs to spend a year or two on the practice squad.

Safety DeJon Gomes, a fifth-round pick in 2011 and opening day starter in 2012, did not progress in coverage. Though he was better in the box, the Redskins have Brandon Meriweather and Reed Doughty ahead of him at strong safety. And they opted for Jose Gumbs, signed right before camp, as a swing safety.

The Redskins also placed offensive lineman Maurice Hurt on the reserve/physically unable to perform list. The tough cut? Receiver Dez Briscoe. According to a league source, Briscoe would have made the roster had he not injured his shoulder in the preseason finale.

What's next: The Redskins next big moves will occur after Week 4 when Jenkins and Jackson return from their four-game suspensions. At that point end Phillip Merling could be in trouble, along with, possibly White, simply because it would be unusual to keep four quarterbacks all season.

The Redskins lack experienced depth along the offensive line and could always use more help at safety. So if anyone intriguing clears waivers, the Redskins would be interested. They also retain the rights to suspended safety Tanard Jackson, who is now eligible for reinstatement. However, it could take a while for the NFL to grant his return -- if they give it to him at all.

Redskins cuts: RB: Keiland Williams, Jawan Jamison, RB Tristan Davis (from exempt/left squad list). WR: Skye Dawson, Nick Williams, Lance Lewis, Dez Briscoe (designated as injured). OL: Tevita Stevens, Tony Pashos, Kevin Matthews, Xavier Nixon. TE: Emmanuel Ogbuehi. DL: Chigo Anunoby, Dominique Hamilton, Ron Brace. DB: DeJon Gomes, Chase Minnifield LB: Vic So’oto, Will Compton, Marvin Burdette.

Dallas Cowboys cut-down analysis

August, 31, 2013
8/31/13
6:24
PM ET
Most significant move: After cutting Sterling Moore, the Cowboys have only four cornerbacks on their 53-man roster with Brandon Carr, Morris Claiborne, Orlando Scandrick and rookie B.W. Webb.

Moore was a late-season pickup off New England’s practice squad last year and offered versatility with his ability to play in the slot. Webb struggled in two of the five preseason games, giving up two touchdowns in Thursday’s loss to Houston.

Claiborne did not play in any of the preseason games because of a sore knee, but he must be ready to play in the season opener against the New York Giants.

The roster is hardly settled and the Cowboys will likely have their eye on cornerbacks by other teams.

While there are a few surprise players on the 53-man roster, the biggest might be Nate Livings, last year’s starting left guard. He did not play in the preseason because of a second surgery on his right knee in six months and does not appear to be close to returning anytime soon.

The Cowboys faced a financial question on Livings because his $1.7 million base salary is fully guaranteed. Whether he is on the roster or not, he would count $2.4 million against the cap this year.

Even if he were healthy, Livings would not have been a lock to start again. The Cowboys are ready to go with Ronald Leary, who is also recovering from knee surgery and missed three preseason games.

Wait til next year: Safety Matt Johnson did not play in a game last year because of recurring hamstring injuries and was eventually placed on injured reserve in November. He was placed on injured reserve Saturday, ending his season because of a foot injury suffered in the Aug. 4 Hall of Fame Game against Miami.

The hope in the offseason was that Johnson could compete for a starting spot but he was felled again by injury.

While the Cowboys could not hold a roster spot for him for a second straight year, they did not want to give up on eventually getting something out of their 2012 fourth-round pick, so the injured reserve made the most sense.

Why didn’t the Cowboys put him on the returnable injured reserve list? He would have had to have spent one day on the active roster and then made the switch to IR. The roster spot was too valuable.

What’s next: Do not expect this to be the 53-man roster for the season opener against the Giants. The Cowboys will look at the waiver wire for upgrades to the bottom end of the roster.

Possible additions could come at the offensive and defensive lines, linebacker and cornerback. They have few experienced backups at defensive line and linebacker.

There are several players the Cowboys would like to get to the practice squad provided they clear waivers, like Alex Tanney, Jason Vega, Micah Pellerin and Brandon Magee.

Cowboys moves: QB: Alex Tanney; WR: Tim Benford, Danny Coale, Anthony Armstrong; RB: Kendial Lawrence; DB: Micah Pellerin, Xavier Brewer, Jakar Hamilton, Sterling Moore; LB: Brandon Magee, Caleb McSurdy, Cameron Lawwrence, Taylor Reed; DE: Thaddeus Gibson, Jabari Fletcher, Jerome Long, Jason Vega; OL: Ray Dominguez, Demetress Bell, Edawn Coughman, Kevin Kowalski; IR: S Matt Johnson
Most significant move. It’s always eye-catching when a team gives up on a first-round draft pick after just two seasons, but guard Danny Watkins had become irrelevant long before being released Saturday. So the departure of the former firefighter means less on the field than it means symbolically.

It was decisions like drafting Watkins, who was already 26 and had been playing football for just four years, that led to the Eagles’ sharp decline in Andy Reid’s final two seasons. Reid crowed that he had a stud who could step right in and dominate at right guard. After 30 months and 18 starts, Watkins is gone.

Versatility is the key. Head coach Chip Kelly and GM Howie Roseman placed a heavy emphasis on versatility in making decisions, especially at the back end of the roster.

Linebacker Casey Matthews, who plays on all four special-teams units, stayed instead of Chris McCoy, who had a good preseason. Tight end Emil Igwenagu, a strong point-of-attack blocker, beat out Clay Harbor, whose skills were similar to the other tight ends. Wide receiver Jeff Maehl, a high school safety, beat out Greg Salas and Russell Shepard because he’s a tougher special-teams guy.

“We were looking for different skill sets, especially at the back of the roster,” Roseman said. “We felt there was room for some role players on our team.”

What’s next. The Eagles have the No. 4 spot when it comes to being awarded waiver claims. Roseman plans to take advantage of that in order to fill some holes that remain on the roster.

“Sometimes that’s hard to do at this time of year,” Roseman said. “[Jaguars GM] Dave Caldwell’s probably thinking the same thing two spots ahead of us on the wire. We have a draft board set up. We spent an inordinate amount of time on guys we thought would be on the bubble.”

The most pressing needs are in the defensive secondary, where the Eagles are thin at cornerback and simply unimpressive at safety, and at linebacker. There were only three outside linebackers on the roster as of the 6 p.m. deadline.

The cuts:

QB: Dennis Dixon, G.J. Kinne. RB: Matthew Tucker. WR: Greg Salas, Russell Shepard, Ifeanyi Momah, Will Kelly. TE: Clay Harbor. OL: Danny Watkins, Dallas Reynolds, Matt Tennant, Matt Kopa. DL: Antonio Dixon, David King. LB: Chris McCoy, Travis Long, Everette Brown, Adrian Robinson. DB: Trevard Lindley (injured), David Sims. Placed DE Joe Kruger (shoulder) on IR.

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