0 out of 5
Packers CB Rasul Douglas (AP Photo/Matt Ludtke)
Cuts to the NFL’s preseason roster can be tough to manage. On August 30, teams will have to drop to the 53-game regular-season threshold, and during the process some quality players will inevitably be let go.
Over the years, we’ve seen all-time mistakes during the pre-season cut process.
In 1982, the Buffalo Bills cut kicker Gary Anderson, who went on to win four Pro Bowls and become the Pittsburgh Steelers’ all-time leading scorer. In 1992, the Arizona Cardinals cut rookie center Jeff Christy. He went on to win two Pro Bowls with the Minnesota Vikings and a third with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to help Tampa win Super Bowl XXXVlI.
While teams are generally better now at spotting future stars, mistakes still happen during cutbacks. Here, we’ll examine and rank the five worst pre-season cut decisions of the past five years based on factors like roster composition, player production and results.
1 out of 5
Photo by: 2017 Nick Cammett/Diamond Images/Getty Images
Wideout Breshad Perriman hasn’t had a stellar career since the Baltimore Ravens cut him before the 2018 season. However, he’s shown he deserves to be in the NFL.
Perriman landed with the Cleveland Browns and showed the potential that made him a first-round pick in 2015. He caught 16 passes for 340 yards and two touchdowns, proving to be a nice complementary deep threat.
The following season, Perriman showed even more with the Buccaneers. He appeared in 14 games, caught 36 passes, and had 645 yards and six touchdowns. Perriman had 505 yards and three scores with the New York Jets in 2020 before returning to the Buccaneers in 2021.
While Perriman saw limited playing time in Tampa’s busy receiving corps last season, he caught a touchdown pass in overtime of Tom Brady in Week 14 to beat the Buffalo Bills.
What makes it a bad preseason cut, however, is the fact that Baltimore dropped Perriman after just two seasons — he spent his rookie year on injured reserve with a PCL injury. The Ravens invested in the 26th overall pick in Perriman, then dumped him the same year they drafted quarterback Lamar Jackson.
Jackson has worked with one of the league’s most disappointing wide receiver groups ever since. Marquise Brown and Rashod Bateman are the only Ravens wides to go over 500 yards in any season in the past three years. Bateman had 515 receiving yards last year.
It’s hard to believe that Perriman — who has recorded 1,657 yards and 12 touchdowns in the four years since leaving Baltimore — couldn’t have been an asset to the Ravens’ franchise quarterback.
2 out of 5
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Like the Ravens, the Philadelphia Eagles gave up a promising player after just three years. Cornerback Sidney Jones wasn’t a former first-round pick like Perriman, but he was a second-round pick. The Eagles took the Washington product 43rd overall in 2017.
Injuries played a role in Jones’ early struggles, as he suffered a torn Achilles on Washington’s pro day. He dealt with hamstring issues in the second year and only played 10 games in his first two seasons.
Jones played 12 games in 2019 but again missed time with a hamstring injury. The constant health issues were apparently too much for Philadelphia, which released Jones ahead of the 2020 season.
However, Jones revitalized his career with the Jacksonville Jaguars that season, appearing in nine games with six starts. He was traded to the Seattle Seahawks before the start of the 2021 campaign, and he has thrived in Seattle.
Last season Jones appeared in 16 games with 11 starts and finished with 66 tackles and 10 passes defensed. He allowed an opposing passer rating of only 84.3 In front page. At just 26, Jones may still have a brilliant career ahead of him.
Jones is ahead of Perriman for one simple reason. While Perriman has been a dangerous complementary player, Jones appears to be a quality starter that Philadelphia simply gave up too quickly.
The Eagles, meanwhile, ranked only 20th in yards per pass attempt allowed in 2020 and a solid 13th (tied) in 2021.
3 out of 5
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The Carolina Panthers are still trying to find a long-term replacement for former franchise quarterback Cam Newton, who was released in 2020. Baker Mayfield, who was recently appointed as a Week 1 starter, is the last quarterback to stand a chance.
Last season, Carolina suffered from the experience of Sam Darnold, and it was a disaster. Darnold won just four games and posted a 71.9 quarterback rating. The Panthers could have avoided Darnold altogether had they kept Taylor Heinicke two years prior.
To be fair, Newton was still usable in 2018 and the Panthers used a third-round pick on Will Grier in the 2019 draft. However, Heinicke has since proven he can be a top-notch backup at worst.
After a stint with the XFL’s St. Louis Battlehawks, Heinicke landed with the Washington Commanders and former Panthers head coach Ron Rivera in 2020. While he only appeared in one season game regular that year, he started against the Buccaneers in the playoffs. , threw for 306 yards and fought back in a narrow 31-23 loss.
Heinicke took over for injured Ryan Fitzpatrick (hip) in Week 1 of the 2021 season and was Washington’s starter for the remainder of the year. He finished with a 7-8 starting record, 20 touchdowns and an 85.9 passer rating. While the results weren’t good enough to stop Washington from trading for Carson Wentz this offseason, they proved Heinicke belongs in the NFL.
The Panthers didn’t think Heinicke was good enough, and that was a mistake. Quarterback is the most important position in the NFL and Heinicke has shown he can perform well in a starting role.
4 out of 5
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To be perfectly fair, the Green Bay Packers haven’t had to worry about quarterback depth often for the past 30 years. Brett Favre simply hasn’t missed a game – he’s started a record 297 consecutive games – and Aaron Rodgers has missed just 17 games (season-ending seats included) since taking over in 2008.
Taysom Hill was also a draft that came out of BYU, so it wasn’t a total shock to see the Packers eliminate the undrafted rookie ahead of the 2017 season.
Still, Green Bay missed out on Hill’s athletic advantage, and he’s since become a quality gimmick player for the New Orleans Saints. Although not a traditional quarterback like Heinicke, Hill is 7-2 in his debut at quarterback and contributed as a tight end and the proverbial Swiss army knife.
In four seasons with the Saints, Hill had 1,183 rushing yards, 34 receptions, 388 receiving yards and 23 combined rushing and receiving touchdowns. He also threw eight touchdown passes.
Even with Jameis Winston and Andy Dalton leading the quarters room in 2022, Hill provides value by moving mostly to the tight end.
“I don’t think what I’ve done is going to change, it’s just expanding that role,” Hill said, per Michael Hull from the team’s official website. “They try to give me the best chance of succeeding.”
Green Bay got by without Hill, but he could have benefited from his multi-position value. Just about any team could use a guy who runs, catches, and provides quarterback insurance. The Saints have benefited from Hill’s presence over the past four years, and he has become arguably the league’s most prolific subset player.
5 out of 5
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Due to the positional value of quarterbacks, it was difficult to place the 2021 exit of cornerback Rasul Douglas at the top of the standings. However, his highs were so high with the Green Bay Packers last season that it became the logical choice.
Douglas, who was released by the Las Vegas Raiders and Houston Texans nearly a year ago, has been slow to find the right situation.
The Eagles’ third-round pick in 2017, Douglas also spent time with the Panthers before landing in Las Vegas. The Raiders eliminated Douglas in late August of last year and the Texans released him after less than a week with the team. He also landed on the Arizona Cardinals’ practice squad before being snapped up by Green Bay.
After joining the Packers, however, Douglas shone. He ended up appearing in 12 games with nine starts last season and finished with 57 tackles, 13 passes defended, five interceptions and two defensive touchdowns.
In coverage, Douglas allowed an opposing passer rating of just 44.5. Although his resume with the Packers is limited, Douglas performed at the Pro Bowl level in 2021. That landed him a new three-year, $21 million contract in the offseason, according to spotrac.
Douglas is now poised to be a defensive centerpiece in Green Bay.
“He’s such an instinctive, conscious football player. I think you could put ‘Sul anywhere in the back and he’d just find a way,” defensive coordinator Joe Barry said, per Mike Spoford from the team’s official website.
It’s baffling to think the Raiders or Texans couldn’t have found a home for Douglas last season. Las Vegas finished the year ranked 26th in scoring defense, while Houston finished with 27th in scoring defense.
This means that two teams who could have used defensive assists sniffed out Douglas, who became one of the the best escape stories of 2021.
* Advanced statistics of Professional Football Reference.