Veterans on the Roster Bubble: NFC Southby Andersen Pickard August 27, 2021 1 comment
The preseason is winding down. 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 by next Tuesday, let’s identify one veteran from each NFC 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.
Atlanta Falcons: D’Onta Foreman, Running Back
Foreman signed with the Falcons during the middle of training camp, but that certainly doesn’t mean his job is guaranteed. Atlanta’s running back room is currently thin with Mike Davis as the projected starter. However, behind Davis, players like Foreman, Qadree Ollison, Cordarrelle Patterson, and Caleb Huntley are all fighting for depth roles. Meanwhile, rookie Javian Hawkins was already released. All in all, the Falcons are trying to make up for the weakness of their backfield by experimenting with several options in depth roles. Foreman needs to impress during the final week of the preseason in order to save his job.
The former Texans third-round pick spent 2020 with the Titans, logging just 23 touches for 100 scrimmage yards and a touchdown. Cutting Foreman would create $920,000 in cap space for the Falcons.
Carolina Panthers: Julian Stanford, Linebacker
Wow, it was challenging to find someone on the Panthers’ roster bubble with at least four years of NFL experience. Instead of breaking my rule about what qualifies as a “veteran,” I will drop a name that might be a bit of a stretch. Linebacker Julian Stanford should make the team, but at 31 years old, it would make sense for the youth-oriented Panthers to at least consider picking a younger player over him. Thus, Stanford is at least on the bubble, though he’s certainly not on the outside looking in. The 2012 undrafted free agent spent each of the last two seasons with the Bills. In 2020, he saw the field for just 3.6 percent of defensive snaps but 58 percent of special teams snaps. If not for his special teams ability, Stanford probably would not survive the upcoming cuts.
After logging zero defensive tackles through his first four seasons, Stanford has made 20 over the last three years. Furthermore, reports out of camp suggest the Wagner product has put together a solid showing in camp. If he were to be cut, Carolina would free up $850,000 in cap space.
New Orleans Saints: Latavius Murray, Running Back
This one is a no-brainer. Rumors throughout the past week of Saints camp indicate that second-year running back Tony Jones Jr. has looked very good while Murray is struggling. Neither of these factors bode well for the 2013 sixth-round pick. Murray, who is 31 years old, saw his competition increase even more when the Saints signed Devonta Freeman this summer. In addition to Jones and Freeman, veteran running back Dwayne Washington is also vying for a depth role. Murray is absolutely on the roster bubble and needs to impress his coaches over the next week.
Over his past two seasons with the Saints, Murray has logged a total of 1,704 scrimmage yards and 11 total touchdowns. Despite a strong stint as Alvin Kamara‘s backup, Murray could be destined for free agency soon. If the Saints cut the Central Florida product, they would create $3,187,500 in cap space will carrying $1 million in dead money.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Cameron Brate, Tight End
Brate has been a great storyline for the Buccaneers, the NFL, and the tight end position. An undrafted free agent in 2014, Brate made the team as a rookie and has appeared in all seven seasons since then. However, along the way, Tampa Bay has also brought in Rob Gronkowski, O.J. Howard, and various big-name weapons in the passing game. Between a crowded receiving room and a lingering undisclosed injury, it’s possible that Brate is fighting for his job during the final week of the preseason.
Brate has been restricted by his injury throughout camp. Even as recently as Tuesday, he was still in the running phase of his recovery. He has struggled to stay on the field in the past, too, whether it be due to an injury or a depth role. In 2020, he saw just 29.6 of offensive snaps, catching 28 passes for 282 yards and a pair of touchdowns. If Tampa Bay were to release Brate, they would create $1.325 million in cap space while being responsible for $485,000 in dead money.
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