Veterans on the Roster Bubble: AFC Southby Andersen Pickard August 24, 2021 0 comments
The preseason is here. For many players, that means a chance to achieve a lifelong dream of making the 53-man roster. However, not everyone can have their wishes fulfilled.
With each team set to cut dozens of players within next Tuesday, let’s identify one veteran from each AFC South team that is on the roster bubble. These players will need to have impressive camp performances to secure their roster spot.
For the purpose of this article, a veteran is someone with more than four years of NFL experience. This means that they are no longer on their rookie contract. First-round picks who are on their fifth-year option count as veterans.
Houston Texans: Mark Ingram, Running Back
After being cut by the Ravens, Ingram joined the Texans on a one-year deal. He is now part of a very crowded backfield that consists of players like David Johnson, Phillip Lindsay, Rex Burkhead, Buddy Howell, and others. While Ingram and Lindsay were listed as co-starters on Houston’s first unofficial depth chart, several factors indicate that this role might not stick. For starters, he will likely open the year behind Johnson and Lindsay considering the former’s familiarity in Houston and the latter’s youth. Money also plays a role in the decision. Cutting Ingram would create $1,823,529 in cap space for the Texans.
A 10-year NFL veteran, Ingram spent eight seasons with the Saints and two with the Titans. From 2014 to 2019, he made three Pro Bowls and had five seasons of at least 1,100 scrimmage yards. However, in 2020, he amassed 78 touches for just 349 yards and a pair of scores. It’s within reason to believe that the 31-year-old could be the odd man out when Houston makes its roster decisions in the coming week or two.
Indianapolis Colts: Will Holden, Offensive Tackle
There were a couple of options here, but Holden seems like a near-lock to be cut unless an injury occurs between now and the end of August. The 28-year-old tackle has four years of experience under his belt and has appeared in just 13 games over the past four seasons. In 2020, he saw the field for just 7.7 percent of offensive plays. Although Eric Fisher is expected to miss some time, Julien Davenport and Sam Tevi should fill in just fine.
Parting ways with Holden, who opened his career with the Cardinals before splitting 2020 between the Ravens and Colts, creates $920,000 in cap space. Furthermore, the move would not carry any dead cap money. It seems as if Holden’s tenure with the Colts will end after just one start last season.
Jacksonville Jaguars: Pharoh Cooper, Wide Receiver
It was harder than you might expect to find a notable veteran who could be cut from this team, especially considering the new front office regime doesn’t have ties to some of the team’s long-term staples. Yet here we are, talking about why Pharoh Cooper won’t make the Jaguars’ roster. Jacksonville brought in a slew of wide receivers this offseason, with bigger names like Jamal Agnew and Marvin Jones Jr. headlining the bunch. Phillip Dorsett and Laquon Treadwell also inked deals with the team. Between these additions, the presence of the Jaguars’ top receivers, and some other young pieces that the team would like to keep in tow, Cooper doesn’t have a spot on the roster.
The 26-year-old Cooper was a fourth-round pick back in 2016. Teams value him for his kick and point returning ability; in fact, he was named a Pro Bowler and First-Team All-Pro as a special teamer in 2017. But Agnew is expected to beat him out for a special teams role this year, so Cooper will likely be released. By cutting the 26-year-old, Jacksonville will create $850,000 in cap space without incurring any dead money.
Tennessee Titans: Luke Stocker, Tight End
The Titans have a fairly messy tight end room after losing Jonnu Smith to the Patriots this past offseason. Anthony Firkser and Geoff Swaim are roster locks while Tommy Hudson is trending towards making the team, too. Unless Stocker breaks out in the back half of camp or the Titans opt to carry four tight ends, the 33-year-old could be out of a job. He’s not the only one in the running, either. The Titans’ unofficial depth chart lists Jared Pinkney and Miller Forristall as other tight ends who are also competing for a depth role.
Stocker was healthy for all 16 games last season, appearing on the field for 44.7 percent of offensive and 49.7 percent of special teams snaps. The 10-year veteran caught seven passes for 63 yards in 2020 and has not found the end zone since a two-score campaign in 2018. Cutting Stocker would create $918,750 in cap space for the Titans. While not a large amount, it is also important to note that the tight end carries no dead money, either.
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