For NFL teams mandated to get to the 53-man roster limit by Saturday's 3:00 p.m. Eastern deadline, it's sometimes challenging to find the final numbers. Occasionally, a team has to bite the bullet and admit that a player who was formerly great, or never worked out in the first place, is due for a release.
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For the New England Patriots, that meant releasing safety Brandon Meriweather, their first-round draft pick in 2007. Selected 24th overall, Meriweather has put up decent numbers through his career (261 tackles, 12 interceptions, and two quarterback sacks), but he was also benched more and more frequently by the Patriots' coaching staff for lapses in play. Meriweather made the Pro Bowl in each of the last two seasons over more deserving safeties line San Diego's Eric Weddle (yet another reason not to take the Pro Bowl very seriously), but Weddle now has a new $50 million contract, and Meriweather is on a one-year scholarship with the Bears, who signed him Sunday.
Other roster cuts of note:
Arizona Cardinals CB Fred Bennett — Bennett was a name of note for the Houston Texans a couple years back, but couldn't make the cut in a secondary now featuring rookie Patrick Peterson and without current Eagle Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie.
Baltimore Ravens LB Tavares Gooden — The Ravens selected Gooden in the third round of the 2008 draft, but he could never really crack a defense full of linebacker talent. His best campaign came in 2009, when he amassed 47 tackles.
Carolina Panthers DE Everette Brown — The Panthers' second-round pick in 2009, Brown is a project still well worth the investment for any team looking to add pass pressure in a 4-front rotation. Last season, he put up just 3.5 sacks, but he also amassed four quarterback hits and 11 hurries in just 13 games and two starts. With a base salary of just $480,000 in 2011, Brown seems like a curious release for a Panthers team that would seem to need all hands on deck after a dismal 2010 season.
Chicago Bears RB Chester Taylor — Hardly a surprise here; we told you last week of the miscommunication that had Taylor thinking he was released days ago. In 2010, he was the first running back since the 1970 AFL-NFL merger to average less than 2.4 yards per carry with over 100 carries. He'll try to do better with the Arizona Cardinals.
Chicago Bears TE Desmond Clark — The veteran was a featured target in the pre-Mike Martz era, back when tight ends were used for more than blocking chips in the Windy City. His targets decreased from 73 in 2008, to 34 in 2009, to 2 in just five games last year.
Cincinnati Bengals QB Dan LeFevour — I guess we should have known something was up when he refused to work out at the 2010 scouting combine!
Cincinnati Bengals OG Max Jean-Gilles — The big man started 25 games for the Eagles, but he couldn't find a place on Cincy's line rotation.
Dallas Cowboys DL Igor Olshanky — The former second-round pick of the San Diego Chargers was going to struggle to find a fit in Rob Ryan's 4-front looks in Dallas. However, he did finish fourth in the league among defensive ends in yards per rushing play allowed in 2010, so any 3-4 team should be taking a look at him as a depth guy at the very least.
Denver Broncos DT Jeremy Jarmon — The former Kentucky standout, who was drafted by the Redskins in the third round of the 2009 supplemental draft after getting popped for an illegal diuretic, was unable to stand out in Denver's sub-par interior defensive line.
Miami Dolphins CB Will Allen — Allen had already agreed to drop his base salary from $5.5 million to $1.5 million this year, but with Sean Smith and Vontae Davis having firm holds on the team's two starting cornerback positions, it's entirely possible that the Dolphins believe they could get a younger, cheaper nickel corner to fill out the rotation. The 33-year-old had struggled to stay healthy recently.
Miami Dolphins RB Larry Johnson — The Dolphins want to go younger at running back with Reggie Bush and Daniel Thomas. Johnson, who hasn't been legitimately effective in the NFL since 2008 (and hadn't rushed for over 1,000 yards in a season since 2006) was a flyer option at best. "Grandmama's" career is most likely done.
New York Jets LB Brashton Satele — One of the stars of the Jets' "Hard Knocks" series, but never established himself as a real presence.
New York Giants DT Gabe Watson — Watson was once thought to be the future of the Arizona Cardinals' defensive line, but he disappointed in the Valley of the Sun and couldn't catch on in the Big Apple.
Philadelphia Eagles TE Cornelius Ingram — A sad story here. Ingram had enough talent to be drafted by the Eagles in the fifth round of the 2009 draft, but multiple knee injuries delayed his progress.
Pittsburgh Steelers DE Baraka Atkins — Atkins was drafted by the Seahawks in the fourth round of the 2007 draft and has the dimensions to make it as a five-etch end in the pros. But even though the Steelers are looking for depth at the position, Atkins couldn't make an impact.
St. Louis Rams WR Donnie Avery — He has an extensive injury history and missed the 2010 season, but Avery looked strong in the 2011 preseason with six catches for 91 yards and a touchdown. Problem is, rookie tight end Lance Kendricks and veteran receiver Danario Alexander looked even better. Avery should get a lot of looks from teams in need of an athletic slot/seam receiver.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers DT John McCargo — The Bills' first-round draft pick in 2006. McCargo was part of the amazing North Carolina State line that included Mario Williams and Manny Lawson. Buffalo traded up to get him, but McCargo was never able to match his collegiate efforts, and he was the odd man out in a stacked Tampa Bay defensive line this preseason.
Tennessee Titans DE Jacob Ford — Ford was thought to be an estimable prospect through his first few seasons, but while his quarterback hurry totals have increased in each of the last three years, his sack totals have gone down. An interesting player, though — any 4-3 team with a need for pass rush in a rotation would be well-served to take a flyer on him.
Tennessee Titans WR Justin Gage — Gage hasn't been able to hang on to half the passes thrown to him in any of the last three seasons, and when you combine that with an overall loss of explosiveness in the open field, this seemed an inevitable cut even though the Titans are still trying to figure out the receiver position.
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