NFC West: 2014 NFL final roster analysis

Most significant move: Linebacker Marcus Benard was squeezed out because of the numbers game, but he has been an effective pass-rusher during his time in Arizona. He's also had a knack for getting his hands on the football, which is something Cardinals coach Bruce Arians covets. He would've provided depth behind John Abraham, Matt Shaughnessy, Sam Acho and Alex Okafor, but Benard's roster spot went to a rookie.

LBU in AZ: Rookie linebacker Glenn Carson nearly had an interception Thursday night against San Diego, and even though he didn't come down with it, it was enough to keep him on the roster. Carson was among six outside linebackers kept and joined the NFL's active sack leader John Abraham in the group. Lorenzo Alexander was officially listed as an outside linebacker, which added depth to that group.

Teddy for Walt: Rookie Walt Powell was kept on the 53-man roster, a move that ended up being mildly surprising because the Cardinals kept just four cornerbacks. Powell finished training camp strong and looked impressive as a backup kick returner. With six receivers, Powell might lose the numbers game on Sundays but he's a viable backup.

What's next: The roster, as it is likely, won't be the same on Sunday or Monday or even for Week 1. Arizona might look to improve a few positions, including depth at both linebacker and defensive line -- meaning a rookie such as Carson might not be safe just yet -- and tackle.

Cardinals moves: RB Zach Bauman, LB Marcus Benard, C Philip Blake,LB Jonathan Brown, WR Dan Buckner, C John Estes, DT Bruce Gaston, WR Brittan Golden, TE Andre Hardy, CB Jimmy Legree, CB Bryann McCann, T Kelvin Palmer, T Nate Potter, RB Jalen Parmele, DT Isaac Sopoaga, G/C Anthony Steen, S Curtis Taylor, LB Adrian Tracy, DT Christian Tupou, S Anthony Walters, CB Eddie Whitley, CB Teddy Williams.
Most significant move: Releasing quarterback Terrelle Pryor, who didn’t do enough for the Seattle Seahawks to justify keeping a third quarterback on the roster, considering he would be inactive most of the time. This was the right call. Pryor cost the Seahawks a seventh-round draft choice to Oakland, but it was worth it to take a look at a guy who’s such an extraordinary athlete. In the end, Pryor was too inconsistent with his passing and his decision-making. It’s likely another team will sign him. The Seahawks also cut QB B.J. Daniels, but they probably hope to add him to the practice squad.

Going with youth: The Seahawks stuck to the usual formula of opting for talented young players over experienced older players. The team released nine-year veteran offensive tackle Eric Winston in order to keep undrafted rookie Garry Gilliam out of Penn State. Winston also would have cost them $1 million in salary. Gilliam is an outstanding athlete who still is learning the position after playing tight end part of his college career. It also means the Seahawks are completely comfortable with rookie Justin Britt, a second-round draft choice who will start at right tackle.

Undrafted over drafted: The Seahawks cut two draft picks -- fifth-round DT Jimmy Staten and seventh-round FB Kiero Small -- and kept two undrafted rookies in MLB Brock Coyle and Gilliam.

Cornerback trade: Here’s another example of going with younger players. The Seahawks cut CB Phillip Adams, a five-year veteran who they picked up in the offseason, and made a trade for Indianapolis CB Marcus Burley, a second-year player with potential. The Seahawks sent the Colts a sixth-round draft choice in 2015.

Seven receivers: For the moment, the Seahawks have seven WRs -- Doug Baldwin, Percy Harvin, Jermaine Kearse, Paul Richardson, Ricardo Lockette, Phil Bates and Kevin Norwood. The Seahawks probably are keeping Bates until Norwood is 100 percent recovered from his foot surgery.

What’s next: Some of these players will end up on the practice squad. Likely candidates are Small, Staten, OT Nate Isles, S Terrance Parks, RB Demitrius Bronson, TE RaShaun Allen, DT Andru Pulu and DE Benson Mayowa, but another team probably will want Mayowa.

Team moves: Terminated veteran contracts of OT Eric Winston and CB Phillip Adams. Waived QB Terrelle Pryor, QB B.J. Daniels, LB Korey Toomer, DE Benson Mayowa, WR Bryan Walters, FB Kiero Small, WR Arceto Clark, G Caylin Hauptmann, OT Nate Isles, C Patrick Lewis, S Terrance Parks, TE Morrell Presley, WR Chris Matthews, DT Jimmy Staten, DT Andru Pulu, TE RaShaun Allen, RB Spencer Ware, CB Akeem Auguste, RB Demitrius Bronson and S Steven Terrell. Placed DT D’Anthony Smith on injured reserve. The Seahawks acquired CB Marcus Burley from Indianapolis for a 2015 sixth-round draft choice.
Most significant move: It might actually be a move they did not make, at least not yet. The 49ers keeping third-string quarterback Josh Johnson, along with starter Colin Kaepernick and backup Blaine Gabbert defies convention or, at least, numerous projections. Many observers saw the Niners only keeping two QBs, with Johnson being shown the door. But with Gabbert getting banged up in the team's exhibition finale and Johnson putting on a show, completing 14-of-17 passes for 135 yards, three touchdowns and interception returned for a touchdown, the 49ers obviously felt the need to add depth under center. For now.

Taking a gamble: Kassim Osgood is a receiver by trade but he's made his bones with the 49ers as a special-teams ace. He was presented with a game ball after blocking a punt in the Niners' exhibition finale. No matter. Osgood is gone. But there's a very good chance he could be back in time for Week 2. As a vested veteran, Osgood's salary of $955,000 would have been guaranteed had he been on the opening week roster. It's a gamble, yes, but one the 49ers won last year with Osgood.

Specialists out: Keeping with the special teams vibe, two more such aces were shown the door, one more surprising then the first. C.J. Spillman, a backup safety, had been one of the team's top special teamers in coverage since joining the Niners in 2010 from San Diego. But his being released saved them $1.25 million in salary and a salary-cap number of almost $1.56 million, per ESPN Stats & Info. Then, there was longsnapper Kevin McDermott, seen as a lock in most corners, getting cut and the job going to Kyle Nelson, whose versatility as a tight end made McDermott expendable. After all, Nelson had five catches for 15 yards and two TDs Thursday at Houston.

What's next: Technically, the 49ers cannot place anyone on the injured reserve/designated to return list until Tuesday, meaning if they plan on making such a move, such a player would have to be on their initial 53-man roster today. Paging nose tackle Glenn Dorsey (biceps) and/or rookie center Marcus Martin (knee).

49ers' moves: Released T Carter Bykowski, TE Asante Cleveland, WR Lance Lewis, LS Kevin McDermott, CB Darryl Morris, G Al Netter, DL Lawrence Okoye, WR Kassim Osgood, T Michael Philipp, NT Mike Purcell, G Ryan Seymour, LB Shayne Skov, RB Alfonso Smith, G Adam Snyder, S C.J. Spillman, LB Chase Thomas, S Bubba Ventrone, WR L'Damian Washington and RB Glenn Winston. Placed CB Kenneth Acker and FB Will Tukuafu on injured reserve.

St. Louis Rams cut-down analysis

August, 30, 2014
Aug 30
Most significant move: From the moment the St. Louis Rams drafted him, it was no secret it would be difficult for defensive end Michael Sam to make the 53-man roster. Despite a strong preseason, Sam was released. This was simply a matter of the numbers working against him. The Rams kept nine defensive linemen on the depth chart, including the eight we already knew were well-positioned. The ninth spot was up for grabs but ultimately went to Ethan Westbrooks. His versatility and strong daily effort was simply too much for Sam to overcome. Now the Rams will wait and see if Sam clears waivers so they can bring him back to the practice squad.

Light at linebacker: It's no surprise the Rams cut four linebackers, leaving only five on the current roster. Though they are likely to continue searching for a sixth linebacker to add some depth, none of the rookies vying for a spot did enough to earn a spot. The Rams gave Phillip Steward plenty of chances to make a case to be on the roster, but he couldn't take advantage. Don't be surprised if the Rams add to the position before the opener against Minnesota.

Quarterback quandary: Again, nobody will be taken aback by the team's decision to cut sixth-round quarterback Garrett Gilbert. He wasn't able to provide the consistency needed to win a spot, though the team could bring him back to the practice squad. But since starter Sam Bradford was lost for the season, the plan has been to add another quarterback with some experience. Even if the Rams had kept Gilbert on the roster, it was almost certainly as a place-holder until they can find a veteran capable of backing up starter Shaun Hill.

What's next: The Rams will spend Saturday evening and Sunday morning piecing together their 10-man practice squad. Many of the practice squad players will be those released by the team in the past week. Some candidates include tackle Sean Hooey, defensive tackle Deantre Harlan, linebacker Lawrence Wilson, cornerback Greg Reid, guard Travis Bond and receiver Austin Franklin.

Rams moves: Released WR Emory Blake, G Bond, DE Kourtnei Brown, S Christian Bryant, DT Matt Conrath, S Avery Cunningham, WR Franklin, QB Gilbert, DT Harlan, LB Aaron Hill, T Hooey, DB Reid, LB Etienne Sabino, DE Sam, TE Brad Smelley, LB Steward, T Mitchell Van Dyk, WR Justin Veltung, OL Brandon Washington, LB Wilson and CB Darren Woodard.

WR Stedman Bailey will be placed on the reserve/suspended list for first four games.