June 23, 2024

Forecasting a potentially surprising cut for every NFC team

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

Could a wide receiver be on the outs for the Dallas Cowboys? What about a running back for the Green Bay Packers who has nearly 2,500 rushing yards in four seasons?

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

NFC East

DALLAS COWBOYS | Wide receiver Brandin Cooks | The Cowboys can pay their No. 3 receiver $10M or save $8M with his release. Perhaps CeeDee Lamb’s holdout isn’t the only reason the team had running back Deuce Vaughn running routes during minicamp.

NEW YORK GIANTS | Wide receiver Darius Slayton | Slayton led the Giants with 770 yards receiving last season, which ranked 46th among NFL receivers. His release would save the team $6M against the cap and create opportunities for young players Jalin Hyatt, Wan’Dale Robinson and Malik Nabers, the fourth overall pick in this year’s draft.

PHILADELPHIA EAGLES | Wide receiver Britain Covey |  They won’t save much against the cap ($985K), but the Eagles could gain needed roster flexibility by releasing their primary punt returner. Covey’s 14.4 yards-per-return figure was second best in the league last season, but second-round pick Cooper DeJean (one of 15 cornerbacks on the roster) was an excellent returner with Iowa and looked good fielding kicks in the team’s recent minicamp.

WASHINGTON COMMANDERS | Wide receiver Dyami Brown | Washington hoped to get more than 158.7 yards receiving per season after drafting Brown in the third round of the 2021 NFL Draft. Fortunately for Washington, 2024 third-round pick Luke McCaffrey and veteran tight end Zach Ertz have impressed in early practices and should make better targets for rookie quarterback Jayden Daniels. 

Bruce Ewing

NFC West

ARIZONA CARDINALS | Defensive lineman Cameron Thomas | Thomas entered the 2023 season as a potential breakout candidate on the defensive line but made a minimal impact. Following the free-agent signing period and draft, he finds himself buried on the depth chart and potentially fighting for a roster spot.

LOS ANGELES RAMS | Cornerback Derion Kendrick | The Rams dipped into the free-agency pool to sign Darious Williams and Tre’Davious White is going to make things difficult for Kendrick and Cobie Durant. Kendrick has played in 32 games over the past two years, but he is a weak link.

SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS | Offensive tackle Jaylon Moore | Moore was a fifth-round pick in 2021 and has been the top backup to left tackle Trent Williams. However, he has not developed a ton and the team added Brandon Parker in free agency and used draft picks on versatile offensive linemen (Dominick Puni and Jarrett Kingston) who can play tackle.

SEATTLE SEAHAWKS | Linebacker Jon Rhattigan | The Seahawks overhauled their linebacker group this offseason, which could make it difficult for Rhattigan to get a bigger role. Cutting him would save nearly $3 million against the salary cap. 

Adam Gretz

NFC North

CHICAGO BEARS | Running back Khalil Herbert | Herbert was the team’s leading rusher behind quarterback Justin Fields in 2024, but he could find himself at No. 3 on the depth chart behind free-agent signing D’Andre Swift and second-year back Roschon Johnson. Swift signed a three-year, $24 million deal to be the lead back and one could argue Johnson adds more versatility than Herbert.

DETROIT LIONS | Cornerback Kindle Vildor | Vildor was thrown into a starting role last season, but he will enter 2024 near the bottom of the depth chart. Despite his experience, the four-year veteran might have an uphill battle for a roster spot, especially after the Lions upgraded significantly at cornerback this offseason, adding 2024 draftees Terrion Arnold and Ennis Rakestraw and veterans Amik Robertson and Carlton Davis.

GREEN BAY PACKERS | Running back AJ Dillon | The 2020 second-round pick rushed for only 613 yards and two touchdowns last season, the lowest output since his rookie season. With Josh Jacobs and 2024 third-round pick MarShawn Lloyd likely to take up most of the backfield touches, Dillon may not be worth keeping around.

MINNESOTA VIKINGS | Safety Lewis Cine | After missing most of his rookie season in 2022 following a brutal ankle injury, Cine returned in 2023 but registered just one tackle on special teams over seven games. A former first-round pick, Cine might be surprisingly on the chopping block if he doesn’t impress during training camp, especially with the likes of Harrison Smith, Camryn Bynum and Josh Metellus already ahead of him on the depth chart. 

Mike Santa Barbara

NFC South

ATLANTA FALCONS | Punter Bradley Pinion | The nine-year NFL veteran averaged a career-high 47 yards per punt in his second year with the Falcons, but the team’s youth movement could push him out. In the offseason, Atlanta added undrafted free-agent punter Ryan Sanborn, a former Stanford (2019-22) and Texas (2023) special-teams ace who had 34.1 percent of his punts downed inside the 20-yard-line in college.

CAROLINA PANTHERS | RB Miles Sanders | With Chuba Hubbard, rookie Jonathon Brooks and free-agent signing Rashaad Penny on the roster, Sanders doesn’t seem to have a role in Panthers first-year head coach Dave Canales’ offense. For a player who signed a four-year, $25.4 million contract during the 2023 offseason, Sanders has dropped precipitously over the past year.

NEW ORLEANS SAINTS | DE Tanoh Kpassagnon | A situational pass-rusher for the past three seasons with the Saints, Kpassagnon suffered an Achilles injury during an offseason drill and might be out of New Orleans’ DE rotation. Even with 2024 free-agent signing Chase Young’s injury concerns, the Saints have depth at defensive end behind starters Cam Jordan and Carl Granderson with 2021 first-rounder Payton Turner, 2023 second-round pick Isaiah Foskey and 2024 undrafted free agents Trajan Jeffcoat (Arkansas) and Nate Latu (Oklahoma State).

TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS | OLB Randy Gregory | When the Bucs signed Gregory in early April, the team had a much bigger need at outside linebacker. However, after adding rookies Chris Braswell (57th overall), Daniel Grzesiak (undrafted) and Shaun Peterson (undrafted), the veteran’s roster spot is far from guaranteed. 

Eric Smithling