Key questions as final roster cuts approach
Posted by ESPN.com's Pat Yasinskas
The Saints and Panthers made some moves today in anticipation of tomorrow's deadline for cutting rosters to 75 players, but there weren't any surprises.
The Saints released fullback Kevin Dudley, receiver Todd Blythe, center Rob Hunt, safety Curome Cox and punter Waylon Prather. The Panthers placed receiver Jason Carter on the injured reserve list and released quarterback Lester Ricard, cornerback Curtis DeLoatch, defensive end Casper Brinkley and tight end Chris Conklin.
Not much exciting there, so let's go ahead and take a look at one interesting question for each NFC South team as the cut to 53 players comes this weekend.
Who will be the kicker? The Saints have a big choice to make between veteran Martin Gramatica and rookie Taylor Mehlhaff. Gramatica's made some big kicks in the past and has lots of experience. But he hasn't always been consistent and he doesn't have a big leg. Mehlhaff does have a big leg, but has never kicked in the NFL.
What quarterbacks stay? After going through much of the offseason with six quarterbacks on the roster and making a run at Brett Favre, the Bucs are down to a mere five quarterbacks. Mercifully, that number finally has to dwindle. The question is if they'll carry three or four quarterbacks. Throw Chris Simms out because he'll either be cut or traded. That leaves Jeff Garcia, Brian Griese, Luke McCown and rookie Josh Johnson. Garcia's safe and Griese should be, too. It's tough to carry four quarterbacks and the Bucs may have to decide between McCown and Johnson. Then again, Jon Gruden's love for quarterbacks means it's possible the Bucs could pluck one -- or two -- off the waiver wire.
How many quarterbacks will they keep? Coach John Fox and General Manager Marty Hurney have shown a willingness in the past to go with only two quarterbacks and Jake Delhomme and Matt Moore are automatic. That leaves Brett Basanez on the bubble. But recent history may be on his side. The Panthers had to play musical quarterbacks last season because of injuries and ineptitude and that didn't work out well. Basanez is a guy the Panthers like and they'd be wise to hang onto him because he has some upside. Besides, if they cut Basanez and have another injury at quarterback, who are the going to call? Vinny Testaverde?
Will veteran receiver Brian Finneran stick? He's trying to make a comeback after suffering major knee injuries the last two years and Finneran is making the most of his opportunity. He seems to have moved ahead of Laurent Robinson for the No. 4 receiver spot. Robinson seemed ticketed for a starting job at the start of camp, but has fallen out of favor. Finneran's durability remains a question, but his ability to contribute on special teams could help his stock.