Before we get started, here's an important note about cut-down day: It's not really the end of roster shuffling. A critical point is the Reserve/Injured list. As was the case last year, players can be brought back off the list after spending only three weeks on it. The catch is that the players must have made today's 53-man roster. Anyone on the Reserve/Injured list before the cut down to 53 players is not eligible to return this season. Once teams starting moving players to the Reserve/Injured list, that will open up roster spots. Some of the players listed here will be re-signed. Also, players who are currently on their team's 53-man roster could still find themselves out of a job as teams will peruse the players cut today by other teams.
So, with those caveats, here's a look at some of the more important cuts as teams go from 80 to 53 players.
QB Cam Newton
It happened early in the morning, but the biggest cut of the day is Newton being released by the Patriots. The quarterback battle is over. Mac Jones is the Patriots' starter. Devin Knotts' thoughts explain this move well: "Makes a lot of sense if Mac Jones won the job. The QB2 job is to get the starter ready as much as it is to come in and play and Hoyer seems excellent at that role."
There wasn't just one reason that Cam Newton is gone. It was a combination of at least three, I'm told: Mac Jones' emergence, Newton's vaccination stance (which caused a bit of a stir behind the scenes) and Cam's uninspiring performance this summer.— Adam Beasley (@AdamHBeasley) August 31, 2021
Also, it should be noted this looks like great news for Damien Harris. Without Newton rushing in touchdowns, Harris should be the team's primary goalline runner.
QB Kurt Benkert
The Packers will likely try to get him back on the practice squad.
According to Justin Freeman, with these two moves, "the Cowboys have issued a strong signal that Dak Prescott is healthy and ready to go for Week 1."
QB Will Grier
He will likely land on a practice squad somewhere, maybe back in Carolina.
QB Ryan Griffin
Hundley couldn't hang on the roster despite the Colts being down to Jacob Eason as their only quarterback currently not on the COVID-19 list.
The Ravens are just keeping two quarterbacks but would like McSorley on their practice squad, assuming he clears waivers.
QB Josh Johnson
Briefly the starter in Tampa Bay. Fourteen team changes later, it could be a career after being cut by the Jets.
According to NFL Network's Tom Pelissero, Siemian will be brought back later this week by the Saints and will "essentially be the No. 2, given they’ll use Taysom Hill in many ways while Jameis Winston starts."
While Barber wasn't high on many fantasy lists, as Justin Freeman said, "Jaret Patterson becomes an interesting name to monitor." without Barber in Washington. On Patterson, Ryan Weisse adds, "Love that kid and he could make some noise if Antonio Gibson or J.D. McKissic miss time."
With Freeman's release, it looks like Latavius Murray's job is safe. The Saints could still look elsewhere if an appealing back hits the market.
With the injury to Jeff Wilson, it looked as if Gallman had a real shot to stick with the 49ers.
Waived by Atlanta last week, Hawkins couldn't latch on in Tennessee. One of the more popular UDFAs of 2021, he'll likely find a spot on someone's practice squad.
A month ago, it appeared that Howard would not make the Eagles' 53-man roster, but the release of Kerryon Johnson improved his chances. Howard could still come back after some roster shuffling happens.
RB Xavier Jones
His expected role for the Rams was reduced after the addition of Sony Michel. But this is the end of a sad run for Jones, who went from mid-round sleeper to waive/injured in just a few weeks.
Simply too many backs on the Steelers' roster to keep them all.
Expect him to return to the Bengals' practice squad if he clears waivers.
FB Alex Armah
Notable for people in fullback-required leagues. Is that a thing?
After opting out of 2020, Allison can't hang on with the Lions.
WR John Brown
When the Raiders signed Brown, he was thought to be a major piece of the offense. He was easily outperformed by Henry Ruggs III and Bryan Edwards, however. NFL Network's Tom Pelissero reports that "Brown requested his release and the team granted it."
WR Keke Coutee
Coutee was a surprising cut as most believed he was securely among the top four receivers. This is great news for Nico Collins, however.
Teams don't normally cut fourth-round picks a few months after they select them. But the Titans do.
Fulgham enjoyed a three-week stretch in 2020 where he was targeted 34 times and actually led the team in receiving last season. Over the last few weeks, Fulgham has struggled mightily in camp and couldn't overcome the new wide receiver talent in Philadelphia.
Gandy-Golden wasn't able to find a role after the Football Team brought in a good deal of receiving talent over the offseason. He'll be on a practice squad.
Hightower was cut in favor of J.J. Arcega-Whiteside, but the Eagles reportedly would like Hightower on their practice squad.
Just too many bodies in Cleveland. Hodge is a solid special teams option and will likely land somewhere.
Despite the addition of Marvin Jones Jr, Johnson was expected to be a valuable reserve for the Jaguars.
In the mix for the Chargers' WR3 spot, Johnson could find a spot elsewhere or end up on the practice squad. Johnson's release likely means Josh Palmer has a bigger role this season.
WR Dazz Newsome
If he clears waivers, the Bears are expected to add Newsome to their practice squad.
When he signed back in March, Perriman could have been considered the Lions' No. 1 wide recevier. His performance in the summer put him behind the likes of Tyrell Williams, Kalif Raymonds, Amon-Ra St. Brown, and Quintez Cephus. A very disappointing run in Detroit.
TE Ryan Griffin
Griffin wasn't expected to play a huge role, but his release and the departure of Chris Herndon swings the door wide open for Tyler Kroft.
In early camp news, Hollister was pushing Dawson Knox. Life can move fast, sometimes.
Hudson was deep on the Buccaneers' depth chart, but according to Chad Parsons, Hudson is a player you "wouldn't be surprised if he surfaces elsewhere."
TE Matt LaCosse
It appeared a few days ago that Moss would make the Bengals' final roster. He'll likely find his way to a practice squad.
Some depth charts had Pruitt as the primary backup for George Kittle, but Pruitt was surprisingly released.
In the last seven days, Warring has been released by the Texans, Patriots, and Colts. That's a rough week. Considering the eagerness of teams picking him up, he could find a spot on someone's practice squad.
PK Mike Badgley
Looks like Tristan Vizcaino has won the Chargers kicker job. Badgley is likely good enough to get a look somewhere else.
In a move that wasn't unexpected, the Lions released both kickers. They'll bring in someone else this week.
PK Jake Verity
Despite turning in a great preseason, Verity predictably couldn't beat out Justin Tucker. Verity could latch on somewhere else, though.
TE Chris Herndon to Minnesota
While there is still no official word on Irvin Smith's recovery timetable, the acquisition of Herndon is not reassuring.