Veterans on the Roster Bubble: AFC East

AFC East

NFL training camp 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 roughly three dozen players over the next few weeks, let’s identify one veteran from each AFC East 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.

New England Patriots: Brian Hoyer, QB

The Patriots drafted Mac Jones this year, making it clear that they want their one-two punch under center to feature Jones and the incumbent Cam Newton. As a result, Hoyer could be out of a job. The recent back injury to Jarrett Stidham does complicate this a little bit, but it’s hard to envision the Pats carrying three quarterbacks on their active roster.

Just because Hoyer doesn’t quite fit into the plans as a player doesn’t mean that he can’t stay with the team. Head coach Bill Belichick continues to bring the veteran back for training camp, showing just how much he trusts the quarterback with the younger mentees. Don’t be shocked if Hoyer is released but remains with the organization in some capacity. 

Buffalo Bills: Cole Beasley, WR

This is where things get interesting. Beasley has been outspoken against the COVID-19 vaccine and NFLPA. Meanwhile, Bills general manager Brandon Beane has publicly declared that he might cut players who haven’t been vaccinated. This violates NFL policy, but that doesn’t mean the Bills won’t still cut the veteran wideout. 

Parting ways with Beasley would create $5.34 million in cap space for Buffalo while carrying $2 million in dead money. Through 15 games last year, he posted career-highs in targets (107), reception (82), and yards (976). He also logged four touchdowns along the way. He was a reliable weapon who assisted in the development of Josh Allen, but a release can’t be ruled out if the Buffalo brass believes the 32-year-old’s actions are detrimental to the team. If they do part ways with Beasley, the wide receiver will surely launch a grievance against the organization.

New York Jets: Ryan Griffin, TE

Greg Van Roten was a candidate here, but reports out of camp indicate that he has impressed and is in line to win the starting job at right guard. Instead, we’ll pivot to Griffin, a 31-year-old tight end. The Jets’ tight end core features Griffin, Chris Herndon IV, and Tyler Kroft, meaning there’s a chance all three make the team. However, it’s also possible that one of them is cut. Kroft was recently signed and Herndon is young, meaning Griffin could be the odd man out. Of the three players mentioned, Griffin also comes with the most cap savings if released.

If the Jets do cut Griffin this month, they will save $2.35 million in cap savings while incurring $950,000 in dead money. Through two seasons with New York, the New Hampshire native has played in 28 games, catching just 43 passes for 406 yards and five touchdowns. In 2020 alone, he logged nine catches for 86 yards and zero scores. Griffin’s age and declining status as a tight end could lead to his release from the Jets, who are trying to get younger.

Miami Dolphins: Jesse Davis, RT

Davis is truly a player on the bubble. While it’s hard to imagine a scenario where Miami doesn’t keep him around, he could be released to create cap space. At 30 years old, the numbers game is certainly against him. He’ll continue to work hard in position battles in hopes of latching onto the 53-man roster and perhaps even a starting job.

Cutting Davis, 30, creates $3.6 million in cap space while carrying $1 million in dead money. With $8 million in cap space, Miami doesn’t need to create more room, but increasing their financial flexibility would still be nice. While Davis has been taking reps as a starter throughout camp, that doesn’t mean that he isn’t on the bubble. The job isn’t undoubtedly his; he’ll need to keep up a good effort throughout the summer in order to hold on to his job with Miami.

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