NFC West: Jason Banks
I've addressed the subject in depth across the division -- first May 26 and again July 30 -- and it's worth another look now that teams have reduced to 53 players for the regular season.
This time, I'm going to break down the changes by position, listing players no longer on the active roster at each main position group (with new players in parenthesis). Departures outnumber replacements because some players finished last season on injured reserve, meaning they were not part of the 53-man roster.
Some players no longer on the active roster remain with the team (they could be suspended, deemed physically unable to perform or part of the practice squad).
St. Louis Rams (34 off roster)
Defensive back: Eric Bassey, Quincy Butler, Danny Gorrer, Clinton Hart, Cordelius Parks, David Roach, Jonathan Wade (added Kevin Dockery, Jerome Murphy, Darian Stewart)
Defensive line: Victor Adeyanju, Adam Carriker, Leger Douzable, Leonard Little, LaJuan Ramsey, James Wyche (added Jermelle Cudjo, Fred Robbins, George Selvie, Eugene Sims)
Linebacker: K.C. Asiodu, Paris Lenon (added Na'il Diggs, Josh Hull)
Offensive line: Roger Allen, Alex Barron, Ryan McKee, Mark Setterstrom, Phillip Trautwein, Eric Young (added Renardo Foster, Hank Fraley, Rodger Saffold)
Quarterback: Kyle Boller, Marc Bulger, Keith Null, Mike Reilly (added Sam Bradford, A.J. Feeley, Thaddeus Lewis)
Running back: Samkon Gado, Chris Ogbonnaya (added Keith Toston)
Special teams: Ryan Neill
Tight end: Randy McMichael (added Mike Hoomanawanui, Fendi Onobun)
Wide receiver: Donnie Avery, Keenan Burton, Brooks Foster, Jordan Kent, Ruvell Martin (added Mark Clayton, Dominique Curry, Mardy Gilyard)
Seattle Seahawks (33 off roster)
Defensive back: Jamar Adams, Deon Grant, Ken Lucas, Josh Wilson (added Kam Chancellor, Kennard Cox, Nate Ness, Earl Thomas, Walter Thurmond)
Defensive line: Lawrence Jackson, Patrick Kerney, Cory Redding, Nick Reed, Darryl Tapp, Craig Terrill (added Kentwan Balmer, Raheem Brock, Chris Clemons, Dexter Davis, Junior Siavii, E.J. Wilson)
Linebacker: Leroy Hill, Lance Laury, D.D. Lewis (added Matt McCoy; note that Hill is suspended for the first regular-season game)
Offensive line: Trevor Canfield, Brandon Frye, Walter Jones, Damion McIntosh, Rob Sims, Steve Vallos, Ray Willis, Mansfield Wrotto (added Stacy Andrews, Evan Dietrich-Smith, Ben Hamilton, Russell Okung, Chester Pitts, Tyler Polumbus)
Quarterback: Mike Teel, Seneca Wallace (added Charlie Whitehurst)
Running back: Justin Griffith, Louis Rankin, Tyler Roehl, Owen Schmitt (added Quinton Ganther, Michael Robinson, Leon Washington)
Special teams: Kevin Houser, Jeff Robinson (added Clint Gresham)
Tight end: John Owens (added Chris Baker, Anthony McCoy)
Wide receiver: Nate Burleson, T.J. Houshmandzadeh (added Golden Tate, Mike Williams)
Arizona Cardinals (24 off roster)
Defensive backs: Ralph Brown, Bryant McFadden, Antrel Rolle (added A.J. Jefferson, Trumaine McBride, Brandon McDonald, Kerry Rhodes)
Defensive line: Jason Banks (added Dan Williams)
Linebacker: Monty Beisel, Bertrand Berry, Cody Brown, Karlos Dansby, Gerald Hayes, Chike Okeafor, Pago Togafau (added Paris Lenon, Cyril Obiozor, Joey Porter, Daryl Washington; Hayes can return from the physically unable to perform list after six games)
Offensive line: Mike Gandy, Herman Johnson, Reggie Wells (added Alan Faneca, Rex Hadnot)
Quarterback: Matt Leinart, Brian St. Pierre, Kurt Warner (added Derek Anderson, Max Hall, John Skelton)
Running back: Justin Green, Dan Kreider (added Jerome Johnson)
Special teams: Neil Rackers (added Jay Feely)
Tight end: Anthony Becht (added Jim Dray)
Wide receiver: Anquan Boldin, Sean Morey, Jerheme Urban (added Andre Roberts, Stephen Williams)
San Francisco 49ers (24 off roster)
Defensive backs: Dre' Bly, Walt Harris, Marcus Hudson, Mark Roman (added Phillip Adams, Tramaine Brock, William James, Taylor Mays)
Defensive line: Kentwan Balmer, Derek Walker
Linebacker: Scott McKillop, Jeff Ulbrich, Matt Wilhelm (added NaVorro Bowman, Travis LaBoy)
Offensive line: Tony Pashos, Chris Patrick, Cody Wallace (added Alex Boone, Anthony Davis, Mike Iupati)
Quarterback: Nate Davis, Shaun Hill (added David Carr, Troy Smith)
Running back: Thomas Clayton, Glen Coffee, Brit Miller, Michael Robinson (added Anthony Dixon, Brian Westbrook)
Special teams: Shane Andrus, Ricky Schmitt
Wide receiver: Arnaz Battle, Isaac Bruce, Jason Hill, Brandon Jones (added Ted Ginn Jr., Kyle Williams, Dominique Zeigler)
The first chart shows how many players are back -- at least for now -- from Week 17 rosters and injured reserve lists. Seattle has the fewest number back with 26.
The second chart shows how many players each team has shed since Week 17 last season. This counts players who were on injured reserve. Teams with lots of players on injured reserve had more players to lose.
The defending NFC West champion Arizona Cardinals have parted with 15 of the 53 players on their Week 17 roster from last season. Only the rebuilding Seahawks have parted with more -- 16 -- among division teams this offseason. The Rams have parted with 11. The 49ers, seeking continuity as they try to build on an 8-8 season, have parted with only three.
The first chart shows how many Week 17 starters and backups have returned to each NFC West team.
The second chart shows how many Week 17 starters and backups have left each NFC West team.
I'll first list the players by team.
Seattle (16): receiver Nate Burleson, quarterback Seneca Wallace, linebacker Lance Laury, defensive end Cory Redding, guard Trevor Canfield, quarterback Mike Teel, tackle Damion McIntosh, linebacker D.D. Lewis, snapper Jeff Robinson, fullback Justin Griffith, cornerback Ken Lucas, safety Deon Grant, defensive end Darryl Tapp, guard Rob Sims, tight end John Owens and defensive end Patrick Kerney.
Arizona (15): linebacker Pago Togafau, safety Antrel Rolle, receiver Jerheme Urban, receiver Sean Morey, kicker Neil Rackers, linebacker Bertrand Berry, fullback Dan Kreider, cornerback Ralph Brown, quarterback Brian St. Pierre, defensive end Jason Banks, receiver Anquan Boldin, linebacker Karlos Dansby, quarterback Kurt Warner, cornerback Bryant McFadden and linebacker Chike Okeafor. Note that Rolle did not start in Week 17.
St. Louis (11): defensive tackle LaJuan Ramsey, cornerback Jonathan Wade, receiver Ruvell Martin, quarterback Mike Reilly, defensive end Leonard Little, safety Clinton Hart, snapper Ryan Neill, running back Samkon Gado, linebacker Paris Lenon, tackle Alex Barron and tight end Randy McMichael.
San Francisco (5): receiver Arnaz Battle, cornerback Marcus Hudson, quarterback Shaun Hill, safety Mark Roman and cornerback Dre Bly.
The third chart shows what happened to players who were on injured reserve in Week 17.
I'll first list by team the players who were on IR but are no longer with their teams.
San Francisco (5): tackle Tony Pashos, punter Ricky Schmitt, linebacker Jeff Ulbrich, cornerback Walt Harris and running back Thomas Clayton.
Seattle (4): running back Tyler Roehl, tackle Walter Jones, snapper Kevin Houser and tackle Brandon Frye.
St. Louis (3): quarterback Marc Bulger, defensive tackle Adam Carriker and safety Eric Bassey.
Arizona (2): tackle Mike Gandy and fullback Justin Green.
Seattle: The Seahawks have reportedly reached agreement with punter Jon Ryan on a contract extension. I'm sure Ryan appreciates the photo choice here.
St. Louis: Rams rookie guard Roger Allen III suffered a torn ACL in Week 17, the team announced. He will rehab for a month before undergoing surgery. Allen was not a projected starter this season. He made his way into the lineup after injuries to several linemen forced the Rams to dig deep into their depth.
San Francisco: Pretty quiet so far Tuesday.
Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando
A quick look at 53-man rosters from Feb. 1, date of Super Bowl XLIII, provides a reference point for seeing how NFC West teams have changed so far this offseason.
I'll continue with Arizona.
Gone from the Cardinals' 53-man roster and injured reserve list in the 58 days since the Super Bowl (9):
Pat Ross, C
J.J. Arrington, RB
Terrelle Smith, FB
Jerame Tuman, TE
Scott Peters, OL
Eric Green, CBMonty Beisel, LB
Antonio Smith, DE
Nathan Hodel, LS
Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando
Clare Farnsworth of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer says the Seahawks will not be big players in the early stages of free agency, according to general manager Tim Ruskell. Farnsworth: "[Leroy] Hill was priority No. 1. But the Seahawks won't be as free-spending when it comes to the others -- a group of 16 that includes fullback Leonard Weaver, offensive linemen Floyd Womack and Ray Willis, wide receiver Bobby Engram, linebacker D.D. Lewis and defensive tackle Rocky Bernard." Willis could appeal to the Redskins, who need a physical right tackle to replace Jon Jansen.
Also from Farnsworth: Honesty is the best policy for the Seahawks' new defensive staff.
Rob Staton of Seahawks Draft Blog passes along updated information from the mock drafts of Rob Rang and Chad Reuter. Rang still has the Seahawks taking receiver Michael Crabtree. Reuter has changed his forecast to Virginia tackle Eugene Monroe.
Chris Sullivan of Seahawk Addicts thinks an increased salary cap will help the Seahawks. He also lists Kelly Jennings among players he might consider releasing. Releasing Jennings would actually cost the Seahawks slightly more against the cap than if he were to remain on the roster.
John Morgan of Field Gulls wonders how long Seahawks center Chris Spencer might last in the draft if he were coming out of college in 2009. Seattle selected Spencer in the first round of the 2005 draft, Tim Ruskell's first with the team. Morgan: "Spencer finally showed some life in 2008. He can still be great if injuries haven't taken the edge off his power and athleticism, but the time to prove that in Seattle blue is ending."
Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch holds up Drew Bennett's signing as the signature move for the Rams' previous front-office regime. He questions whether the Rams could quickly replace Orlando Pace and Torry Holt if the team released them. Also: "The old regime made another titanic gaffe by failing to secure a contract extension with the emerging cornerback, Ron Bartell. He will probably command elite (and possibly insane) dollars on the free-agent market, and the Rams could have gotten Bartell for a lower price had they acted sooner."
Revenge of the Birds' Andrew602 says the expected addition of former 49ers special-teamer Keith Lewis is consistent with other mid-level acquisitions in Arizona. The Cardinals have also signed defensive end Jason Banks, running back Chris Vincent and tight end Alex Shor.
Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic says Lewis' expected signing is a surprise because the Cardinals have depth at safety. I would see Lewis as more of a special-teams contributor. Somers also notes that the Cardinals' college scouts are in the final year of their contracts.
Matt Maiocco of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat expects the 49ers to take things slowly when free agency opens Thursday night at 9 p.m. PT. Maiocco: "The 49ers have compiled a list of 10 to 15 free agents to target, but the club plans to move much slower at the start of free agency to let the market settle down, one league source said." Team president Jed York: "You're always overpaying in free agency when you get that first-day guy. What we want to do is make sure we're building through the draft. And if we're going to spend a lot of money it's going to be on re-signing our own players and getting the right guys, as opposed to big flashy guys."
Alex Marvez of Foxsports.com says the Dolphins have agreed to terms with former Raiders safety Gibril Wilson, a player some NFC West fans -- particularly 49ers fans -- had asked about for their teams.
Kevin Lynch of Niner Insider thinks the 2009 draft sets up nicely for the 49ers because they need outside linebackers, running backs and fast receivers.
Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando
The Cardinals' practice squad is coming together with the signing of seven players. One spot remains open. Five of the seven spent training camp with Arizona. Two others, receiver Onrea Jones and cornerback Wilrey Fontenot, were elsewhere.
The chart shows every Cardinals player with practice-squad eligibility.
Re-signing Pat Ross to the practice squad gives the Cardinals needed depth at the position. The team couldn't justify setting aside a spot on its 53-man roster for him, and that made sense. Ross isn't one of the Cardinals' 53 best players.
liked offensive lineman Elliot Vallejo's potential enough to carry him on the 53-man roster. They also thought linebacker Ali Highsmith, though undrafted, played well enough this summer to catch scouts' attention around the league.
This is the tough part for NFL teams. They tend to overvalue their own practice-squad-eligible prospects -- not enough to sign them to the 53-man roster, but enough to sweat the time it takes for these players to pass through waivers. The fear isn't justified most of the time.
Lance Long had a very good rookie camp for the Cardinals. No one signed him. Jamar Adams and Michael Bumpus had strong camps for Seattle. The 49ers like running back Thomas Clayton and receiver Dominique Zeigler.
Yet, these players made it through waivers. Other teams can sign them at any time, but teams get comfortable with their own players. They rarely sign players from another team's practice squad. When they do, it's usually a short-term fix.
Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando
The chart shows each of the Cardinals' players with practice-squad eligibility, according to the team.
Practice-squad rules can be confusing, and exceptions sometimes apply to relatively experienced players. Brian St. Pierre has been around longer than most players with eligibility. He'll make the 53-man roster, though, so the practice squad won't be an issue for him.
I've categorized each player based on his perceived likelihood of earning a spot on the 53-man roster. Those are rough characterizations. Teams still have not made decisions. It's conceivable that a player listed as a "keeper" could face his release.
As noted: Rosters spots are serious business for NFL players lacking job security. For some, the next 30 hours or so will determine whether they'll earn $17,352.94 per week or whatever the real world pays.
The minimum NFL salary is $295,000. Players get paid in 17 installments, one for every week they spend as a paid member of the organization.
NFL teams must trim rosters from 75 players to 53 players by Saturday afternoon. Teams can establish eight-man practice squads beginning Sunday. Practice-squad players earn a minimum of $5,200 per week during the regular season and playoffs.
Once a player signs with a practice squad, he can practice with the team. He becomes eligible to play in games only if a team signs him to its 53-man roster. Practice-squad players are free to sign with any team's active roster at any time during the season.
Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando
Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic provides an approximate Cardinals two-deep depth chart based on observations from training camp. Note that Lyle Sendlein is the starting center, ahead of Pat Ross. A knee injury could keep regular starter Al Johnson out another month. Third-team center Scott Peters landed on injured reserve.
Also from Somers: He singles out Steve Breaston, Lance Long, Tim Hightower, Keilen Dykes and Jason Banks as Cardinals players to watch against the Saints Thursday night.
Also from Somers: Kurt Warner might not play for the Cardinals tonight because the staff doesn't want to risk his health behind the second-team offensive line. This is further confirmation of the Cardinals' depth problems up front. Also, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie probably starts at corner while Rod Hood recovers from a heel injury.
Mark Wahlstrom of the Cardinals Report files nine in-depth observations from Cardinals camp. This is good reading for those looking to get a feel for Arizona. He likes the tight ends more than I might have expected. That's a position to watch for the Cardinals this season.
Mark Heller of the East Valley Tribune says the Cardinals are looking to cut down on penalties. Arizona finished last season with a league-high 137 penalties. Division-rival Seattle finished with a league-low 59 penalties. Also from Heller: Look for Antrel Rolle to return punts, perhaps against the Saints.
Clare Farnsworth of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer describes the Seahawks' new facility, which features a 6,700-square-foot locker room. The previous locker room was 1,140 square feet, Farnsworth notes. The waterfront facility will allow the team to deliver free agents by sea plane, something team president Tim Ruskell is already envisioning.
Frank Hughes of the Tacoma News Tribune says the new facility helped Seattle land Julius Jones in free agency.
Thomas James Hurst of the Seattle Times offers up photos of the Seahawks' new facility. The second photo shows cornerback Derrick Johnson catching a pass with Lake Washington in the background. Danny O'Neil and Jose Romero tag-teamed the accompanying story, which features middle linebacker Lofa Tatupu referring to team owner Paul Allen on a first-name basis.
Scott Johnson of the Everett Herald describes Seahawks coach Mike Holmgren as a survivor, which beats the alternative. Johnson: "During his first few months in Seattle, Holmgren lost defensive coordinator Fritz Shurmur to cancer. In 2002, his mother Barbara passed away. There was a cancer scare for wife Kathy, and assistant coach and close friend Ray Rhodes suffered a minor stroke."
Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch has round-by-round coverage of the Rams-Titans fights during their joint practices. The only upset: Rams guard Jacob Bell, formerly of the Titans, didn't square off with Tennessee defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth. A scrape did break out one play after Rams coach Scott Linehan warned against fighting.
Also from Thomas: a wide-ranging chat on all things Rams. Thomas was ready when chat participant Curtis T., upset with Steven Jackson for holding out, calls the running back a "piece of trash" and asks if the Rams could trade him. Thomas: "Well, the problem is, the 'piece of trash' just may be the best player on the team." No question.
Bill Coats of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch was there when Rams rookie Chris Long beat Titans guard Jake Scott on consecutive plays during one-on-one pass-rush drills. The Rams are increasingly pleased with Long's progress. Long definitely works at the game.
Also from Coats: a throw-away line about right tackle Alex Barron standing out in team and individual drills. I take that as a good sign for the Rams. Barron commits too many penalties and he isn't a dominant tackle, but getting him back on the right side full time has to help.