NFL Nation: 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 moves: Safety Brandian Ross was a surprise cut. He started 13 games the past season, and he had 75 tackles. The Oakland Raiders re-signed him in May. He was expected to be a key backup this year. The Ross cut meant seventh-round pick Jonathan Dowling (acquired with the pick acquired in the Terrelle Pryor trade) made the 53-man roster. Greg Little, claimed off waivers from Cleveland in the spring, looked like he’d be a contributor early in camp, but his play tailed off, and he was cut. Expect Denarius Moore and Brice Butler to be in the rotation. The Raiders liked running back/special teamer Jeremy Stewart, but he was caught in a number’s game. They kept Jamize Olawale over Stewart. One of the best stories to make the team is cornerback Neiko Thorpe. Coaches have raved about him. He was a future signing in January after he played in the CFL this past year.

Draft class is intact: The Raiders kept all eight of their draft picks, including three seventh-rounders: Dowling, TJ Carrie and Shelby Harris. This is how the Raiders are going to build their roster. The draft picks have to hit. On the flip side, defensive end Jack Crawford was cut. He was a fifth-rounder in 2012. Just two members of that six-player class remain on the roster. It was the first draft class of the Reggie McKenzie-Dennis Allen era. If this draft class can contribute, it could help define the tenure of these two men.

What’s next: The Raiders will scan the waiver wire. They have the fifth-highest claiming priority. Expect Oakland to consider adding tight ends, offensive linemen, linebackers or cornerbacks. They can start claiming players Sunday. Oakland can compile its 10-player practice squad Sunday as well. It will likely be filled mostly by the 11 undrafted free agents the Raiders signed and then cut this summer.

Raiders moves: Released DT Ricky Lumpkin, FB Karl Williams, WR Greg Little, WR Brandian Ross, DE Jack Crawford, TE Jake Murphy, RB George Atkinson III, DE Denico Autry, CB Chance Casey, T Jack Cornell, LB Carlos Fields, Bojay Filimoeatu, LB Spencer Hadley, OT Dan Kistler, T Erle Ladson, G Lamar Mady, WR Seth Roberts, DE Ryan Robinson, OL Jarrod Shaw, TE Scott Simonson, RB Jeremy Stewart, K Giorgio Tavecchio, FB Karl Williams.

Seattle Seahawks cut-down analysis

August, 30, 2014
Most significant move: Seattle released 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 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: The Tampa Bay Buccaneers took a leap of faith when they released kicker Connor Barth and decided to go with Patrick Murray. Barth was a proven veteran. Murray is an unknown. But Murray had an excellent preseason to win the job. Barth didn’t look quite as sharp and didn’t seem to have as much distance as he did before missing all of the past season with a torn Achilles tendon. Barth also was scheduled to make more than $3 million this season. Murray will only cost the team $420,000.

Not so fast: A lot of people assumed running back Jeff Demps would make the roster because the Bucs were so infatuated with his speed. But Demps was released Saturday. The former Olympic sprinter was given every opportunity as a running back and a return man, but he never was able to make things happen in space. Still, Demps has rare speed, and the Bucs likely will try to get him signed to the practice squad, where he might be able to develop into something.

What’s next: The Bucs likely aren’t done with roster moves. They’re likely to bring in some players who were released elsewhere. Depth at linebacker, safety and on the offensive line still could be priorities.

Bucs’ cuts: Released WR Solomon Patton, RB Jeff Demps, QB Mike Kafka, DT Matthew Masifilo, DT Ronald Talley, K Connor Barth, TE Cameron Brate, DE Larry English, G Jamon Meredith, DB Marc Anthony, LB Nate Askew, T Edawn Coughman, CB Kip Edwards, DE T.J. Fatinikun, CB Anthony Gaitor, LB Ka'Lial Glaud, CB Keith Lewis, LB Brandon Magee, OL Andrew Miller, FB Lonnie Pryor, DL Ronald Talley, S Major Wright and OL Jeremiah Warren.
Most significant move: When coach Mike Zimmer brought safety Chris Crocker out of retirement for the third consecutive year and the Minnesota Vikings signed him to a one-year deal during training camp, it seemed likely the 34-year-old would make the roster and could possibly win the starting safety job next to Harrison Smith. Crocker, however, didn't even make the roster out of training camp, as the Vikings slashed a number of veteran safeties from their roster. Crocker was cut, along with free-agent addition Kurt Coleman, and the Vikings put safety Jamarca Sanford on injured reserve after he injured his quadriceps on a special-teams play against Kansas City. That means, after a long audition at safety, the Vikings will head into the season with just four: Smith, Robert Blanton, Andrew Sendejo and rookie Antone Exum. Could another veteran pickup be on the way?

Show of faith in Joseph, Stephen: The Vikings' decision to release defensive tackle Fred Evans came as a bit of a surprise, considering the team re-signed Evans to a one-year, $1 million contract in March. But the move to let go of the veteran means the Vikings are confident in two things: that nose tackle Linval Joseph will be healthy for the start of the regular season after being hit in the leg by a stray bullet Aug. 9 in a Minneapolis nightclub and that seventh-round pick Shamar Stephen can handle significant work at defensive tackle. Stephen saw plenty of playing time at both the three-technique and nose tackle positions during camp, and defensive line coach Andre Patterson remarked the Vikings got a steal in the draft. The decision to keep him means the Vikings stuck with nine of the 10 players they drafted in May (cornerback Kendall James was the only player cut).

What's next: The Vikings will be able to assemble their 10-man practice squad Sunday; according to league sources, they're hoping to retain a number of the players they cut Saturday, such as wide receiver Kain Colter, tackle Mike Remmers and running back Joe Banyard. They'll begin practicing with their 53-man roster Monday, as they prepare for the regular-season opener against the St. Louis Rams.

Vikings moves: G Jeff Baca, DT Chase Baker, RB Joe Banyard, WR Kain Colter, S Kurt Coleman, S Chris Crocker, DT Fred Evans, DT Isame Faciane, TE Chase Ford, WR Donte Foster, CB Kendall James, LB Justin Jackson, C Zac Kerin, CB Julian Posey, TE Allen Reisner, T Mike Remmers,, T Antonio Richardson (placed on injured reserve), S Jamarca Sanford (placed on injured reserve), DE Justin Trattou, RB Dominique Williams, LB Mike Zimmer

Green Bay Packers cut-down analysis

August, 30, 2014
Most significant move: In the end, the Packers' decision to keep both backup quarterbacks -- Matt Flynn and Scott Tolzien -- suggests they felt the third quarterback was more important than, say, an extra cornerback, safety or running back. Among the surprise cuts were cornerback Jumal Rolle, safety Chris Banjo and perhaps the fact that they did not keep a fourth halfback. In Flynn, they have a backup who has proven he can win games as a fill-in starter. In Tolzien, they have a possible long-term backup with a higher upside than Flynn, who has lost out in competitions for starting jobs in Seattle and Oakland. The Packers have not said who will be the No. 2 quarterback on the depth chart, though it's likely Flynn.

Light in the backfield: The Packers have three halfbacks -- Eddie Lacy, James Starks and DuJuan Harris -- they feel good about. In fact, it might be their best halfback trio in a while, which is probably why they went light at this position. They also kept one fullback, John Kuhn, who can handle the ball-carrying duties in short-yardage and emergency situations. The previous three seasons, the Packers have kept at least five backs on their opening-day roster.

Undrafted rookies stick: As usual, the Packers found a couple of players worth keeping in the undrafted free-agent class. They kept two of them -- nose tackle Mike Pennel and outside linebacker Jayrone Elliott. Pennel, of Colorado State-Pueblo, could see some action at nose tackle after the loss of B.J. Raji to a season-ending torn biceps. Elliott, of Toledo, led the NFL in preseason sacks with five. By keeping Pennel and Elliott, the Packers have now had 15 undrafted rookies make their opening-day roster in the past five years.

What's next: The Packers have told many of the players they released Saturday to stay in town while they make decisions on their practice squad. Look for them to sign a practice-squad running back, perhaps rookie LaDarius Perkins, and a couple receivers after going light at both positions on the active roster. They also could still add players to their roster via waivers or free-agent signings. According to ESPN's Josina Anderson, the Packers will work out guard Adam Gettis, who was released by the Redskins. Gettis was a fifth-round pick in 2012.

Packers moves: Four players were placed on injured reserve: T Aaron Adams, LB Nate Palmer, TE Jake Stoneburner and DT Khyri Thornton. Thornton was the highest draft pick (third round) not to end up on the roster. The following players were released: Banjo, Perkins, Rolle WR Kevin Dorsey, LB Jake Doughty, T John Fullington, C Garth Gerhart, WR Alex Gillett, DT Carlos Gray, RB Michael Hill, LB Adrian Hubbard, G Jordan McCray, S Tanner Miller, TE Justin Perillo, DE Luther Robinson, T Jeremy Vujnovich, WR Myles White and CB Ryan White.

New York Jets' cut-down analysis

August, 30, 2014
Most significant move: It's unusual for a team to dump a second-round pick after only two seasons, but the Jets ran out of patience with wide receiver Stephen Hill. His agent blames the Jets for stunting Hill's development, and he's right on a couple of counts. They rushed him into the lineup as a rookie when he wasn't ready (he played in the triple option in college), and he was slowed by instability at the quarterback position. He also didn't receive a lot of public love from Rex Ryan, who never seemed to embrace Hill. That said, Hill has to take some accountability, too. He's a soft, immature, one-dimensional player who doesn't play with fire. The Jets made the right move. He wasn't one of their top five receivers, and he doesn't play special teams.

Adios, Dimitri: The Jets' decision to release cornerback Dimitri Patterson came as no surprise. Something had to be done, as he had lost the trust of people in the organization and players in the locker room. Here's the part no one is talking about: The Jets were willing to give him a second chance in the aftermath of AWOLGate. They wanted to see how he responded to the suspension. If he had accepted his punishment instead of kicking and screaming, he'd probably still be on the team. But he sealed his fate by dropping his bombshell of a statement, accusing the Jets of lying about the reason for his absence. Basically, he forced his way out. Good riddance.

Survival of the draft picks: Few jobs in America offer as much security as being a John Idzik draft pick. Surprisingly, 10 of the 12 picks remain, including two on injured reserve (wide receiver Shaq Evans and cornerback Dexter McDougle). In upsets, linebackers Jeremiah George, IK Enemkpali and Trevor Reilly survived the final cut, as did wide receiver Quincy Enunwa. This smacks of Idzik trying to protect his drafting record, but it also shows he's trying to develop the bottom of the roster. George, Enemkpali, Reilly and Enunwa will be this year's version of the Idzik Red Shirts (inactive on game day). The downside to this philosophy is that it eliminates useful veteran backups. Linebackers Garrett McIntyre and A.J. Edds lost their jobs because of the youth movement.

Surprise cut: Quarterback Matt Simms. The Jets are taking a calculated risk, hoping no one claims him on waivers. If not, he's likely to return on the practice squad. Under the new rules, Simms is eligible.

What's next: The Jets should send up an "S.O.S." flare regarding their cornerback position. After cutting Johnny Patrick and others, they're down to six corners, only two of whom have significant starting experience -- slot corner Kyle Wilson and Dee Milliner, who might miss the opener because of a high-ankle sprain. The starters on the outside could be Darrin Walls and converted safety Antonio Allen, assuming he recovers from a concussion. The backups are Ellis Lankster and LeQuan Lewis. LeQuan Lewis? Yes, the Jets are desperate. Look for Idzik to import a functional veteran by the end of the weekend. Some folks are clamoring for Champ Bailey because he's a big name, but he's 36 years old and didn't play a snap in the preseason.

Jets' moves: Placed LB Antwan Barnes on the PUP list; Released Hill, Patterson, Simms, Edds, McIntyre, Patrick, WR Clyde Gates, RB Daryl Richardson, RB Alex Green, TE Chris Pantale, DE Zach Thompson, QB Tajh Boyd, DL Tevita Finau, S Rontez Miles, OT Brent Qvale, G Caleb Schlauderaff, DT Kerry Hyder, LB Troy Davis, CB Jeremy Reeves, G Will Campbell and CB Brandon Dixon.
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.
Most significant move: Releasing cornerback Champ Bailey was the New Orleans Saints' biggest bombshell. But it ultimately shouldn't come as a shock. Bailey wasn't able to beat out fellow veteran Patrick Robinson for the No. 2 cornerback job. And for Bailey, it was probably a “starting job or bust” situation since he doesn't play special teams, and since the Saints are happy with their nickel/dime guys in safety Rafael Bush and cornerback Corey White. ... The big question mark is whether Robinson is the right choice. He had a nice camp at times, and the speedy athlete has shown as much big-play ability as anyone in the Saints' secondary during his turbulent five-year career. But Robinson has also battled injuries and inconsistency. If he can provide stability, New Orleans' secondary should he a huge strength.

Super loss: By cutting receiver Robert Meachem, the Saints now have only seven players remaining from their 2009 Super Bowl roster. They also parted ways with longtime veterans Lance Moore, Will Smith, Jonathan Vilma, Jabari Greer and Roman Harper this year. But the writing was on the wall for Meachem when younger receiver Joe Morgan came back so strong from a knee injury. The two of them have a similar skill set as standout blockers and deep threats. I expect Marques Colston, Kenny Stills, Brandin Cooks and Joe Morgan to be the Saints' four active receivers when everyone is healthy. And while Stills nurses a quad injury that could keep him out in Week 1, the Saints still have promising young receiver Nick Toon available.

What's next: The Saints still have one glaring need since they went with "none of the above" in their kicker competition. Neither Shayne Graham nor Derek Dimke was consistent enough to lock down the job. I'm perfectly fine with that, especially when you consider the experienced veterans who are now available (Ryan Succop, Alex Henery, Connor Barth, Jay Feely, Rob Bironas, plus a number of young guys who had solid camps elsewhere). The question, however, is whether the Saints can develop trust in a new guy quickly enough. The Saints have had an itchy trigger finger regarding kickers over the years. So what happens if the guy they choose misses once or twice in September? ... To make room for the next kicker, the Saints will likely place either fullback Erik Lorig or linebacker Khairi Fortt on injured reserve -- possibly with a designation to return.

Saints moves: Terminated contracts of CB Champ Bailey, OLB Keyunta Dawson, K Shayne Graham, FB Greg Jones, WR Robert Meachem, OT Thomas Welch. Waived C Matt Armstrong, CB Derrius Brooks, WR Brandon Coleman, ILB Todd Davis, K Derek Dimke, CB Terrence Frederick, WR Charles Hawkins, TE Nic Jacobs, G Marcel Jones, WR Seantavious Jones, OT Tavon Rooks, RB Derrick Strozier, NT Lawrence Virgil, CB Trevin Wade, S Pierre Warren, T/G Jason Weaver.

Cleveland Browns cut-down analysis

August, 30, 2014
Most significant move: The Cleveland Browns terminated the contracts of four veteran players, most notably wide receiver Nate Burleson, despite desperately needing proven, reliable pass-catchers. The 33-year-old Burleson missed most of training camp and the preseason nursing a strained hamstring. He played in Cleveland’s fourth preseason game against Chicago, catching one pass for 27 yards. The Browns, who will be without last year’s league-leading receiver Josh Gordon, kept five receivers: Miles Austin, Andrew Hawkins, Travis Benjamin, Taylor Gabriel and Charles Johnson. Said Cleveland coach Mike Pettine: “Nate is a true professional, and it was a difficult decision for us. Ultimately, his availability was a concern with all the time he missed, and we liked what we saw in the other players at that position.”

Purging the 2013 draft class: Cleveland’s 2013 draft was widely panned for being atrocious. It seems Pettine and general manager Ray Farmer agree. On Saturday, the Browns cut cornerback Leon McFadden, their third-round pick in 2013, and guard Garrett Gilkey, one of their two seventh-round picks. With McFadden and Gilkey gone, Cleveland only has two players on its roster -- outside linebacker Barkevious Mingo and defensive end Armonty Bryant -- from last year’s draft class.

Running back depth: Last week, Pettine said Dion Lewis was close to grabbing the No. 3 running back spot. On Saturday, Lewis got cut. Ben Tate will be the starter, backed up by Terrance West and undrafted rookie free agent Isaiah Crowell, who should get a handful of carries per game. In the Browns last preseason game, Crowell rushed for 102 yards, including a 48-yard touchdown run. Chris Ogbonnaya also got cut.

What’s next: After giving the players Saturday off, Pettine and the Browns will return to practice on Sunday afternoon to prepare for their season-opener at Pittsburgh. On Sunday, teams can begin signing players to their 10-man practice squads. Also, the Browns likely will take a look at former New York Jets wide receiver Stephen Hill, the Jets’ second-round pick in 2012 out of Georgia Tech. Pettine was the Jets’ defensive coordinator during Hill’s rookie season. About the roster, Pettine said, “I think the 53 is always going to be fluid, especially at the start of the season.”

Browns moves: The team terminated the contracts of veteran WR Nate Burleson, LB Zac Diles, LB Jamaal Westerman and RB Chris Ogbonnaya. CB Isaiah Trufant was placed on injured reserve. The Browns waived DB Josh Aubrey, DB Leon McFadden, DL Calvin Barnett, DL Jacobbi McDaniel, DL Justin Staples, OL Reid Fragel, OL Garrett Gilkey, OL Donald Hawkins, OL Alex Parsons, OL Abasi Salimu, QB Connor Shaw, TE/FB MarQueis Gray, RB Dion Lewis, TE Emmanuel Ogbuehi and WR Willie Snead.

Denver Broncos cut-down analysis

August, 30, 2014
Most significant move: There were not many roster spots to be had when the Denver Broncos opened training camp, but right from the start it was clear their depth on the defensive line was far better than it was in 2013 and that a player who was previously a starter could certainly get caught in the squeeze. That player was Kevin Vickerson, who started 11 games last season for the Broncos and 41 games in his four seasons with the team. But the Broncos had at least some salary-cap concerns this time around and Vickerson’s $2.266 million cap figure to go with the play of Mitch Unrein, Marvin Austin and youngster Quanterus Smith cost Vickerson his spot. Unrein also played some at defensive end in the preseason, showing a little more versatility and the Broncos will save about $1.766 million against the cap with Vickerson’s release. The Broncos also had at least some long-term concerns about Vickerson’s hip, which he injured last Nov. 24 before going to injured reserve.

Undrafted not unwanted: Running back Juwan Thompson made it 11 years in a row the Broncos have had an undrafted rookie make the cut to 53 players. Thompson, part of a platoon system at Duke, consistently showed the well-rounded game the Broncos want from their backs throughout offseason workouts and training camp. At 225 pounds, he is the team’s biggest back, has lined up at both fullback and running back, shown good instincts in pass protection and catches the ball. He's just the kind of guy the Broncos want at the position, and he gives them quality special teams ability as well.

Stick to it: Ben Garland, after two years on the Broncos’ practice squad, a two-year active duty stint in the Air Force and a position switch from defensive tackle to the offensive line this past offseason, made the Broncos’ initial cut to 53. Garland is always the first volunteer for off-the-field community appearances and routinely has lined up on both sides of the ball for the scout team. He steadily worked his way up the depth chart to second-team guard by the end of the preseason. He played every offensive snap in the Broncos’ preseason finale against the Dallas Cowboys.

What’s next: Because of their Super Bowl appearance, the Broncos sit at No. 31 in the waiver claim order. It means, save for a cursory look at a returner or a kicker -- they worked out Andrew Furney on Satuday -- they will likely go with what they have.

Broncos moves: K Matt Prater placed on reserve/suspended. DE Kenny Anunike placed on injured reserve. LB Shaquil Barrett, RB Kapri Bibbs, S John Boyett, QB Zac Dysert, LB L.J. Fort, WR Bennie Fowler, DT Sione Fua, S Duke Ihenacho, TE Jameson Konz, G Ryan Miller, TE Cameron Morrah, CB Jerome Murphy, T Vinston Painter, WR Nathan Palmer, C Matt Paradis, TE Gerell Robinson, DE Brian Sanford, DB Jordan Sullen, DT Vickerson and CB Lou Young were waived or released, depending on their experience level.
Most significant move: The Kansas City Chiefs are going with an undrafted rookie kicker, Cairo Santos, instead of veteran Ryan Succop. The competition through training camp and the preseason was close. The difference may have been money. Succop was due $2 million from the Chiefs this year. Santos will make $422,000. Santos is only 5-foot-8, 160 pounds, but the ball jumps off his foot. The Chiefs expressed no fear throughout training camp about going with a rookie as their kicker, lending an air the job was Santos’ to lose. He never did anything to indicate he would.

No more QB dilemma: The Chiefs didn’t want to part with any of their four quarterbacks, so Tyler Bray’s knee and ankle injuries from Thursday night’s preseason game in Green Bay were very convenient. The injuries allowed the Chiefs to put Bray on injured reserve. His season is over but the Chiefs retain his rights. Bray has a lot of ability, but he wasn’t going to help the Chiefs this year. Their quarterback depth chart now reads Alex Smith, Chase Daniel and rookie Aaron Murray.

What’s next: The Chiefs could be actively looking for help on the offensive line and in the defensive backfield. Right tackle Donald Stephenson returns from NFL suspension after four games. Until then, the Chiefs can’t be content with a collection of backups that includes two untested players and Mike McGlynn, recently released by Washington. The Chiefs have precious little in the way of experienced depth in the secondary. Meanwhile, the Chiefs kept four tight ends and six running backs. So the final players on the depth chart at those respective positions, Richard Gordon and Joe McKnight, shouldn’t get too comfortable.

Chiefs moves: Placed QB Tyler Bray and WR Kyle Williams on injured-reserve list; placed DL Mike Catapano on non-football injury list; placed WR Dwayne Bowe and OT Donald Stephenson on suspended list; released S Jonathon Amaya, S Malcolm Bronson, FB Jordan Campbell, DL Dominique Hamilton, WR Mark Harrison, G Ricky Henry, LB Alonzo Highsmith, LB Nico Johnson, DT Kyle Love, CB Justin Rogers, DT Kona Schwenke, PK Ryan Succop, CB DeMarcus Van Dyke, LB Devan Walker, OT J’Marcus Webb, RB Charcandrick West, WR Fred Williams.
Most significant move: After finishing last season on the injured because of a hamstring injury in training camp, veteran cornerback Kelvin Hayden made it through the preseason healthy and appeared to perform well throughout camp and the preseason to make the team. Perhaps Hayden became a victim of the numbers game, as the Chicago Bears decided to go into the regular season without him. The Bears drafted Kyle Fuller in the first round, and he turned heads throughout the preseason which likely gave the club enough confidence to use him opposite Charles Tillman on passing downs, while sliding Tim Jennings inside to the nickel. Hayden has proved to be a capable at both cornerback spots and at nickel. So by cutting Hayden the Bears lose solid veteran depth at corner.

Too little, too late: Eben Britton could be considered somewhat of a surprise cut. Britton played 13 games last season and started in four games, but pulled a hamstring early in camp which limited his availability throughout the preseason. Britton played in only the preseason finale at Cleveland because of the injury, and didn’t perform particularly well when called upon. Receiver Chris Williams entered training camp as one of the favorites to win the job as Chicago’s primary return man. But like Britton, Williams missed too much time because of a hamstring injury suffered Aug. 8 while catching a 73-yard touchdown pass against the Philadelphia Eagles. Britton and Williams should catch on with other teams as both are capable of playing in the NFL. But hamstring injuries limited their opportunities to show what they could do for the Bears, and the team couldn’t give either the benefit of the doubt in making Sunday’s decisions.

Whacked again: Defensive end Austen Lane wrote this great account of what it’s like to get cut last year for The MMQB. At the time, Lane was getting ready to try again with the Kansas City Chiefs, where he’d eventually be cut again. Lane ended up appearing in two games with the Detroit Lions last season, only to be waived 22 days after the club signed him. The Bears signed Lane on Feb. 27, but the veteran failed to nab a roster spot in what seemed to be a logjam at the defensive end position despite performing solidly.

What’s next: With cuts now out of the way, the Bears will establish a 10-man practice squad by the end of the weekend before turning their attention to the season opener against the Buffalo Bills.

Team moves: WR Josh Bellamy, C Taylor Boggs, DT Brandon Dunn, LB Jerry Franklin, OG Ryan Groy, LB DeDe Lattimore, CB Al Louis-Jean, WR Dale Moss, DT Lee Pegues, DT Tracy Robertson, S Marcus Trice, WR Chris Williams, CB C.J. Wilson, OT Eben Britton, CB Kelvin Hayden, DE Austen Lane, S M.D. Jennings.

Miami Dolphins cut-down analysis

August, 30, 2014
Most significant move: The biggest move the Miami Dolphins made Saturday was releasing running back Daniel Thomas, a second-round pick in 2011. Thomas was once expected to be a future building block on offense. But Thomas never showed the skills needed to be a feature back. He will go down as one of former general manager Jeff Ireland’s biggest draft busts. New general manager Dennis Hickey did not have strong ties to Thomas and graded him based on merit. Thomas was injured in training camp and most of the preseason before making his debut in Thursday’s exhibition finale. Thomas rushed for 38 yards and a touchdown on 13 carries, which wasn’t enough. Instead, Miami kept promising rookie running back Damien Williams on the roster as the No. 3 running back behind Lamar Miller and Knowshon Moreno.

New returner: The Dolphins will have a new kick returner in 2014. Miami released Marcus Thigpen, who had taken over the return duties for the Dolphins the past two seasons. Like Thomas, Thigpen also had nagging injuries in training camp. He muffed a punt Thursday in Miami’s preseason finale, which sealed his fate. The Dolphins will be searching for new options.The most likely candidates include receivers Jarvis Landry and Damian Williams.

Center of attention: Another interesting decision the Dolphins had to make involved Pro Bowl center Mike Pouncey. After weeks of rehabilitation, Miami decided to take Pouncey off the physically unable to perform list (PUP). This means Pouncey can play whenever he’s recovered from major hip surgery. He’s looked strong in rehab and dropped hints to the Miami media that he’d like to play in London in Week 4 against the Oakland Raiders. Keeping Pouncey on the PUP would have prevented him from playing the first six games of the regular season.

What’s next: The Dolphins will work on filling out their 10-player practice squad over the next 24 hours. That should include several players listed in Saturday’s cuts. Miami also could scan the wires to boost depth at a few positions on its 53-man roster. Thin positions of interest include the offensive line, linebacker and tight end.

Team moves: WR Marcus Thigpen, RB Daniel Thomas, CB Kevin Fogg, WR Matt Hazel, QB Seth Lobato, K Jake Rogers, OL David Arkin, OL Evan Finkenberg, TE Evan Wilson, WR Kevin Cone, S Jordan Kovacs, OL Sam Brenner, DE Tevin Mims, DT Isaako Aaitui, OT Tony Hills, TE Kyle Miller, DE D'Aundre Reed, DL Garrison Smith, LB Andrew Wilson, DT Kamal Johnson (IR)
Most significant move: Waiving 2013 fourth-round draft choice Josh Boyce. When training camp began, he was projected as the New England Patriots' top kickoff returner and was part of a deep receiving corps in which his speed was supposed to be an asset. But Kenbrell Thompkins, an undrafted free agent from the same 2013 class, once again outperformed him as Boyce couldn't gain enough momentum. He'd be a strong practice-squad candidate if he clears waivers.

Linebacker depth on radar: Arguably the second-most notable move was second-year linebacker Steve Beauharnais being waived. The Patriots don't have much depth at their off-the-line linebacker spots (evolving depth chart here), but they're probably factoring Dont'a Hightower into that mix, and perhaps even Rob Ninkovich in an emergency. Beauharnais was on the bubble and had value in terms of his knowledge of the defense and ability to lead the huddle and get everyone lined up correctly, so perhaps he returns on the practice squad if he's not claimed.

Three quarterbacks for now: The Patriots kept both Ryan Mallett and Jimmy Garoppolo behind Tom Brady, marking the first time since 2011 that they'll enter the season with three players at the position. The next question: Who's No. 2?

If history is any indication, expect more movement: The Patriots seldom set their 53-man roster and stand pat. With this in mind, it would hardly be surprising if there aren't more moves ahead, with the club claiming a player or two on waivers, or entertaining trade possibilities in certain areas. Like some of the lower-level players on the roster should be, we're still on edge for potential surprises.

A change at snapper: In releasing Danny Aiken, the Patriots don't have another snapper on the roster outside of Rob Ninkovich. The Patriots could always bring in another player at the position, but for now, it looks like Ninkovich's job unless Aiken returns or the team signs someone else.

 Patriots cuts: LS Danny Aiken, LB Steve Beauharnais, DE Jake Bequette, WR Josh Boyce, C Braxston Cave, LB Ja'Gared Davis, S Kanorris Davis, RB Roy Finch, WR Jeremy Gallon, S Shamiel Gary, RB Jonas Gray, OL Jon Halapio, TE Steve Maneri, DL Eathyn Manumaleuna, FB Taylor McCuller, LB James Morris (injured reserve), CB Daxton Swanson, DL L.T. Tuipulotu, DL Jerel Worthy.

What's next: Bill Belichick is scheduled to hold a 10 a.m. ET conference call Sunday to answer questions on the roster, and more.