All teams will be scouring the list of players cut in the reduction to 53 man rosters looking for something that may just have got past their competitors in the process of training camps and preseason and led to a worthy player being left jobless.
This isn’t to say teams have made a mistake; these guys may simply be on a downturn. But sometimes good players get bumped because of an excess of quality at a certain position, a salary demand too far or someone’s face simply not fitting. It’s at this time one man’s chaff becomes another man’s wheat.
Last year, for example, we had no idea why the Dolphins let Vonnie Holliday go, but after being picked up by Denver he proceeded to have a fantastic season. From a backup position at DE he registered 5 sacks, 7 hits and 16 hurries in 324 rushes. There are no players of this caliber available now but that doesn’t mean someone cut isn’t better than someone still on a roster.
Here at ProfootballFocus.com we’ll stick with our time-honored process of putting performance in real-game action over any other factor while we look at five players who could make a difference to a team (as of 6 p.m. EST).
Kelley Washington (WR) – cut by Philadelphia
With the Ravens bringing in Anquan Boldin and Donte Stallworth, Washington became surplus to requirements. A move to the Eagles wasn’t the making of a guy who was effective as the third receiver for the Ravens (+7.6 overall rating for 2009). Washington was our highest-ranked receiver who was targeted fewer than 50 times. He also is an able run-blocker, and so an interesting proposition for a receiver-needy team that plans on running the ball a lot.
Team that could use him: Buffalo looks very light in a number of areas and WR is one of them. Washington could step in and possibly help out, while also helping out the rushing attack.
Chris L. White (RG) – cut by Houston
White got significant playing time last year (412 snaps) but never played a full game. Instead, he was rotated with Antoine Caldwell throughout the year and has now lost out in the battle for a full-time starting job. Neither he nor Caldwell is a top-flight guard, but both did a reasonable job (PFF rating +2.3 and +1.2, respectively), and this makes him a notch above more than a few starting right guards.
Team that could use him: It’s difficult to believe that when Pittsburgh released Justin Hartwig and elevated Maurkice Pouncey they didn’t upgrade their line. They could probably make another significant step in that direction by replacing Trai Essex with White.
Jacques Reeves (CB) – cut by Houston
The secondary was a weakness for the Texans and Reeves was seen as part of the problem, not the solution. He’s not a top-tier starter by any means, but when you look at what he actually gave up in 2009 you have to think a lot of teams would have been pleased with that level of production. Playing 358 snaps in coverage, he was only targeted 51 times (despite playing predominantly on the left) and gave up 27 receptions for 293 yards and 3 TDs. He made one interception and defensed another 7 passes.
Team that could use him: For some reason a lot of people seem high on Derek Cox in Jacksonville, and maybe he will come through, but what’s Plan B? He gave up more yards than anyone except Oakland’s Chris Johnson in 2009, as well as 6 TDs in 542 pass attempts. Reeves would at least give insurance in case this got really ugly.
Ike Ndukwe (RT) – cut by Kansas City
When you get cut by a team with as bad an O-line as the Chiefs, job offers may not exactly come flooding in, but Ndukwe got the short end of the stick in Kansas City. This is a team obsessed with sticking to their plans even when they look like being complete failures (e.g., benching Derrick Johnson for Corey Mays). Despite noticeably out-playing Ryan O’Callaghan at right tackle, Ndukwe never got another real shot and got his marching orders in the latest cut-down.
Team that could use him: I’ve already seen enough of Arizona‘s new RT Brandon Keith to believe he may well continue in the recent Arizona tradition of missing pass-blocking prowess. Mario Williams made him look completely at sea and someone of Ndukwe’s talent could upgrade the position.
Tyjuan Hagler (LB) – cut by Seattle Seahawks
It was a bad spot for Hagler to land in, considering the depth the Seahawks have at linebacker. A forgotten man in some respects after his season ended seven games in for the Colts last year, his lack of eye-popping stats kept his largely excellent opening to the season a secret. Despite only playing 232 snaps, he managed an impressive +8.5 rating, allowing just 47 yards in coverage (from 13 throws at him) and doing a good job containing runs.
Team that could use him: Having lost Jonathan Casillas for the year, and with Clint Ingram on the PUP list, the New Orleans Saints’ linebacker group could use an all-around talent like Hagler.