June 23, 2024

Forecasting a potentially surprising cut for every AFC team

With NFL training camps set to begin in a little more than a month, we are already thinking about which veterans could be cut.

Could a quarterback be on the outs in Cleveland? What about one of Aaron Rodgers’ favorite targets with the New York Jets, the player who had 100 targets and 788 yards receiving in 2022?

Below, Yardbarker NFL writers identify one potentially surprising cut for all 16 AFC teams.

AFC East

BUFFALO BILLS | Defensive tackle DeShawn Williams | The Bills signed Williams (5.5 sacks over the past two seasons) earlier this offseason, but he was just one of many depth moves made by the team at the position. Williams’ signing didn’t stop the Bills from selecting DT DeWayne Carter in the third round of the 2024 NFL Draft, and if the rookie impresses in training camp, the five-year veteran could be looking for a new home.

MIAMI DOLPHINS | Running back Jeff Wilson Jr. | Although Miami restructured his contract earlier this offseason, Wilson could ultimately be the odd man out in a crowded backfield. Wilson was already behind Raheem Mostert and De’Von Achane on the depth chart, and now that the Dolphins spent a fourth-round pick on Tennessee’s Jaylen Wright, there’s no need to keep the 28-year-old.

NEW YORK JETS | Wide receiver Allen Lazard | Despite his strong rapport with QB Aaron Rodgers, Lazard, who’s entering the second season of his four-year, $44M deal, has quickly emerged as one of the worst free-agent signings in franchise history. Lazard caught just 23 passes for 311 yards and one touchdown last season, and since the Jets have revamped their receiving corps this offseason, he’d likely receive minimal playing time if he cracked the 53-man roster.

NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS | Wide receiver Tyquan Thornton | Thornton’s career hasn’t unfolded how he or New England envisioned when it selected him in the second round of the 2022 NFL Draft, as he amassed 338 receiving yards and only three touchdowns over his first two seasons. Considering the Patriots are under new leadership and selected two wideouts early in this year’s draft, Thornton probably won’t be in New England much longer. — Colum Dell

AFC West

DENVER BRONCOS | Wide receiver Tim Patrick | Patrick may have durability issues, as he suffered a torn right ACL in 2022 and a torn left Achilles in 2023. Denver added competition for Patrick this offseason, signing WR Josh Reynolds (two years, $9M) and drafting Oregon’s Troy Franklin in the fourth round.

KANSAS CITY CHIEFS | Wide receiver Skyy Moore | This offseason, the Chiefs signed WR Marquise Brown (one year, $7M) in free agency and drafted Texas’ Xavier Worthy in the first round, so Moore could be expendable. In 14 games last season, he only had 21 receptions for 244 yards and one touchdown catch.

LAS VEGAS RAIDERS | Running back Ameer Abdullah | The Raiders probably signed Alexander Mattison (one year, $2M) in free agency to serve as RB2 behind Zamir White and as Abdullah’s replacement. The 30-year-old RB failed to make a strong impression last season, rushing for 89 yards and zero TDs on 15 carries in 17 games.

LOS ANGELES CHARGERS | Offensive tackle Trey Pipkins III | Cutting Pipkins would result in no cap savings, but drafting Notre Dame OT Joe Alt in the first round could signal L.A. has lost confidence in the 27-year-old. Per Pro Football Focus, Pipkins tied for fourth in the league in sacks allowed (nine in 17 games) last season. — Clark Dalton

AFC North

BALTIMORE RAVENS | Running back Justice Hill | Hill ran for a career-high 387 yards and three touchdowns in 2023, but the Ravens added new faces to their running back room this offseason in veteran Derrick Henry and fifth-round rookie Rasheen Ali. If Baltimore also expects second-year RB Keaton Mitchell to pick up where he left off before suffering an ACL tear last season, Hill could be the odd man out.

CINCINNATI BENGALS | Defensive tackle B.J. Hill | Hill has been one of the more consistent players on the defensive line over the past three years, registering 169 tackles, 13 sacks, one forced fumble and two interceptions. However, Cincinnati paid veteran DT Sheldon Rankins and drafted two rookie defensive tackles (Kris Jenkins Jr. and McKinnley Jackson). Hill, meanwhile, is heading into the final year of his deal.

CLEVELAND BROWNS | Quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson | Thompson-Robinson, a fifth-round pick in 2023, received a lot of playing time as a rookie because of the Browns’ quarterback carousel, but he struggled (440 yards passing, one TD pass, four interceptions). Cleveland showed its lack of confidence in the 24-year-old when it signed veteran quarterbacks Jameis Winston and Tyler Huntley in free agency.

PITTSBURGH STEELERS | Linebacker Cole Holcomb | The Steelers signed Holcomb to a three-year, $18M contract last offseason, and he played well before suffering a serious knee injury in Week 9. However, Holcomb’s status for the 2024 season is uncertain because Pittsburgh made LB Patrick Queen its highest-paid free-agent signing in franchise history and drafted LB Payton Wilson in the third round of the 2024 NFL Draft. — Aaron Becker

AFC South

HOUSTON TEXANS | Wide receiver Robert Woods | After trading for Stefon Diggs earlier in the offseason, the Texans are loaded at receiver. Diggs, Nico Collins, Tank Dell and Noah Brown occupy the top four spots on the depth chart, and it wouldn’t be surprising if either John Metchie or Xavier Hutchinson made Woods expendable (Houston can gain $4.9M in cap space if it cuts Woods.)

INDIANAPOLIS COLTS | Tight end Mo Alie-Cox | Alie-Cox’s days as the Colts’ top tight end have been over for the past two seasons. Kylen Granson (50 targets, 368 yards in 2023) and Will Mallory (26 targets, 207 yards) were bigger focal points of Indy’s offense last season, and parting ways with Alie-Cox will save the team $5.9M in cap space.

JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS | Offensive tackle Cam Robinson | Robinson missed the first part of 2023, and Walker Little played well in his absence. Little is three years younger (25) and nearly $19M cheaper, which is why the Jags could opt to cut Robinson and save $17.2M in cap space.

TENNESSEE TITANS | Cornerback Caleb Farley | One must feel for Farley, who missed all last season after his father’s death in a house explosion, but his days with the Titans look to be numbered. Tennessee’s defensive backfield is quite crowded after adding L’Jarius Sneed, Chidobe Awuzie and Jarvis Brownlee Jr. to a group that already includes Roger McCreary, Elijah Molden and Tre Avery. Farley could be the victim of a numbers game. — Michael Gallagher