Every NFL team’s most surprising roster cut

With the preseason in the books, every NFL team has now trimmed their roster to the league–mandated 53 players. While these rosters will certainly undergo changes over the next couple of days, each team has their initial 53-man roster set.

But when going from 80 to 53 players, there are some tough calls NFL general managers have to make in the process. And there were certainly some shocking moves across the league during the final roster cuts, which should make for some interesting moves on the waiver wire.

We’ve rounded up our NFL Wires editors to highlight the most surprising roster cut from every NFL team.

Arizona Cardinals: LS Aaron Brewer

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Brewer has been the team’s long snapper since 2016 and has been very good. He is the most surprising cut because he is the only long snapper they have and, when he has been hurt, the kicking game has suffered. He was one of the team’s announced cuts but it comes with a caveat. His release was likely just a bit of roster maneuvering for 24 hours before they place players on injured reserve, making them eligible to return after as few as four games. Because he is a vested veteran, he is not subject to waivers, so the Cardinals are not in danger of losing him unless he wants to sign elsewhere. He likely will re-sign after more roster moves come. – Jess Root, Cards Wire

Atlanta Falcons: TE Anthony Firkser

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Atlanta kept four tight ends and somehow Anthony Firkser was left off the 53-man roster. The former Titan spent three seasons with Falcons head coach Arthur Smith in Tennessee (2018-2020), and recorded at least 200 receiving yards in each of his four NFL seasons. Firkser appeared to be a lock for the No. 2 tight end spot behind Kyle Pitts. Instead, the team will keep Parker Hesse, rookie John FitzPatrick and former QB-turned-TE Feleipe Franks. Another somewhat surprising cut was rookie OL Justin Shaffer, who the team selected in the sixth round out of Georgia. – Matt Urben, Falcons Wire

Baltimore Ravens: RB Tyler Badie

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The Ravens put together a rather impressive 11-player draft class in 2022, drafting for need while also taking some of the best players available when it was their turn on the clock. With their final selection, the team selected Missouri running back Tyler Badie in the sixth round, a very accomplished player in the SEC. It’s rare that Baltimore moves on from rookies that they took in the draft just a few months prior, but they decide to do so with badie in the wake of the expected signing of veteran running back Kenyan Drake. – Kevin Oestreicher, Ravens Wire

Buffalo Bills: TE OJ Howard

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It took the Bills years to knock the Patriots off the top of the AFC East. It’s going to take at least one more for them to catch up in terms of having an offense with two top tight ends. Many thought Howard was going to be that answer along with Dawson Knox, but Buffalo just never got enough out of him. Howard did flash an ability to block well, something the Bills usually like out of their depth tight ends, but the playmaking was never shown. As the preseason progressed, the team started pushing Howard’s playing time into the fourth quarter while former UDFA Quinton Morris and Tommy Sweeney saw earlier action. Howard, a former first-round pick, could still reportedly get another opportunity elsewhere after being let go. – Nick Wojton, Bills Wire

Carolina Panthers: S Juston Burris

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Burris made a strong impression on this coaching staff over his two seasons in Carolina, having started in 20 of his 23 games between 2020 and 2021. That impression, apparently, softened—beginning with the free-agent signing of Xavier Woods. But even with Woods inking on to start alongside Jeremy Chinn, Burris was presumably in line for a key backup role behind the duo. Alas, it was not to be. The seventh-year veteran was pushed off as a depth piece as well, with the special team prowess of Sam Franklin Jr. and Sean Chandler clinching them the final nods over Burris in the safety room. The versatility of Myles Hartsfield, who can line up both against the slot and over the top, also likely made Burris’ cut easier to swallow. – Anthony Rizzuti, Panthers Wire

Chicago Bears: CB Thomas Graham Jr.

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There were a number of surprising cuts made by the Bears, including offensive lineman Michael Schofield. But it’s the departure of second-year cornerback Thomas Graham Jr. that’s the most shocking. Graham didn’t see the field much in his rookie season, as he was stashed on the practice squad and forgotten until the entire starting secondary got COVID-19. But in his limited reps, Graham showed that he has the potential to develop into a playmaker at cornerback. Graham was battling for the nickel back job with Tavon Young before being sidelined with a hamstring injury. Graham has versatility playing both outside and nickel cornerback, and he has a ton of potential. Unfortunately, Graham suffered because he was limited due to his injury. But he’s a prime candidate to return on the practice squad – if he’s not snatched up by another NFL team. – Alyssa Barbieri, Bears Wire

Cincinnati Bengals: P Drue Chrisman

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There weren’t many stunning cuts for the Bengals. Even cutting wideout Mike Thomas, which would have classified as such, is just roster chess—he’ll be back in a few days after they slip a few guys to injured reserve, just like he was last year. That made the waiving of punter Drue Chrisman the most surprising, as one would have been right to guess he’d win out over veteran Kevin Huber given similar summer performances. Now the Bengals risk losing Chrisman to another team and looking for help again next offseason. – Chris Roling, Bengals Wire

Cleveland Browns: OL Blake Hance

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Hance’s story with the Browns is unique. His first action with the team came in the playoffs when QB Baker Mayfield met him in the huddle. Dubbed “Some guy named Blake” by Mayfield, Hance started eight games and played in all 17 for Cleveland last year due to injuries along the offensive line. From key backup and spot starter to not making the team’s 53-man roster is surprising especially with the Browns not bringing in significant additions to the position this year. – Jared K. Mueller, Browns Wire

Dallas Cowboys: QB Cooper Rush

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The Cowboys released QB Ben DiNucci on Sunday, 48 hours ahead of the deadline. He was clearly the fourth QB. The battle was for backup between Will Grier and Cooper Rush. Word first surfaced that Grier lost the battle but the club hoped he would be able to join their practice squad. Then the shock came, Dallas released Rush as well. It’s a tricky move, but as a vested veteran, Rush isn’t subject to waivers. Dallas will re-sign him as soon as they move a few players from the initial 53 to returnable IR. – K.D. Drummond, Cowboys Wire

Denver Broncos: DL McTelvin Agim

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It’s hard to pick one surprising move for the Broncos because the team made three surprising cuts: WR Brandon Johnson, OL Netane Muti and DL McTelvin Agim. Johnson and Muti are both dealing with injuries, though, so Agim was the most surprising healthy cut. Agim has struggled to live up to his third-round draft status since 2020 (12 tackles and 1.5 sacks in 17 games), but he dominated in Denver’s preseason finale with two forced fumbles, two pass breakups and a sack. The Broncos opted to carry sixth-round pick Matt Henningsen as the last defensive lineman, and Agim will likely be a practice squad target if he clears waivers. – Jon Heath, Broncos Wire

Detroit Lions: RB Godwin Igwebuike

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Igwebuike lost the battle to be the No. 4 running back in Detroit to Jermar Jefferson. That’s not terribly important in the grand scheme of things, but Igwebuike was the Lions’ primary kick returner. Just a week ago, head coach Dan Campbell reaffirmed that Igwebuike was atop the depth chart at kick return. Igwebuike had a better preseason rushing the ball and offered quite a bit more in the passing game all summer than Jefferson, but it wasn’t enough to keep the converted safety in Detroit on the initial 53-man roster. – Jeff Risdon, Lions Wire

Green Bay Packers: WR Juwann Winfree

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The Packers kept seventh-round pick Samori Toure, who led the team in receiving during the preseason, as the seventh receiver over Winfree. Why is this surprising? Winfree got snaps with the first-team offense all summer, is more experienced in Matt LaFleur’s offense and received unprompted praise on multiple occasions from quarterback Aaron Rodgers. Earning the the MVP’s trust is worth it’s weight in gold, but it couldn’t save Winfree. It’s certainly possible Winfree will go unclaimed on waivers and return on the practice squad on Wednesday, and it’s also possible the Packers thought Toure would be more likely to get claimed. Other moderate surprises include releasing rookie running back Tyler Goodson and keeping rookie defensive lineman Jonathan Ford over Jack Heflin. – Zach Kruse, Packers Wire

Houston Texans: RB Marlon Mack

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It isn’t a surprise that rookie Dameon Pierce would emerge as the Texans’ dominant back; it was inevitable at some point in the season. What was interesting was how the Texans decided to release Mack, who could have at least been productive in a reserve role behind Pierce. The Texans will need the running backs as offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton deploys a run-heavy scheme. Instead the Texans are going with a duo of Rex Burkhead and Dare Ogunbowale behind Pierce. Mack averaged 2.0, 3.6, and 5.5 yards per carry in his three preseason games. – Mark Lane, Texans Wire

Indianapolis Colts: RB Phillip Lindsay

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Even though the RB3 role for the Colts wouldn’t have much of an impact, it was still widely considered that Lindsay was close to a lock to make the roster. He was clearly the best runner of the backfield sans Jonathan Taylor and Nyheim Hines. However, the Colts are adamant that their depth running backs play on special teams. Lindsay, regardless of his pair of 1,000-yard seasons, doesn’t do that. So instead, the Colts opted to go with 2021 undrafted free agent Deon Jackson, who held the role for the second half of the season during his rookie campaign. – Kevin Hickey, Colts Wire

Jacksonville Jaguars: WR Laquon Treadwell

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While he may not have been the Jaguars’ number-one option this season, Treadwell played serviceably well last season, and looked to have a good shot at cracking the 53-man roster in 2022. His time in Jacksonville came to an abrupt end on Monday, as the team elected to release him following a mediocre preseason. Treadwell has had a hard time finding a home in the NFL, and though it is now clear that Duval County was just a stop along the way for him, he has an opportunity to give his next contract everything he has got in hopes of making good on his first-round pedigree. – John Dillon, Jaguars Wire

Kansas City Chiefs: WR Daurice Fountain

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Fountain spent the majority of the 2021 NFL season on the Chiefs’ practice squad. When the playoffs arrived, Josh Gordon was made a healthy scratch twice and Fountain was elevated to the active roster in his place. It was in part for his special teams ability, but also for his progression within the offense. This offseason, Fountain continued to improve. He finished the preseason with the second-most receiving yards among Chiefs receivers. Many expected Kansas City to carry six receivers on the 53-man roster because of the departure of Tyreek Hill, with Fountain being that sixth player. It just goes to show you how comfortable the team is with their receiver corps. – Charles Goldman, Chiefs Wire

Las Vegas Raiders: OL Alex Leatherwood

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There was some talk over the last few weeks that the Raiders might consider trading Alex Leatherwood, but a straight-out release was still a surprise. Leatherwood started all 17 games for the Raiders last season, playing both right guard and right tackle. His confidence was clearly shaken after working with the second and third team for most of camp and it transferred over to the preseason games. The former 2021 first-round pick will now go on waivers, but is not expected to be claimed due to his high salary. Look for him to catch on with a team later this week. – Marcus Mosher, Raiders Wire

Los Angeles Chargers: S Mark Webb

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Webb, the Chargers’ 2021 seventh-round pick, was making noise early on in camp, working with the first team defense as the “money” (hybrid safety-linebacker), a reserved role for Derwin James, who sat out while the team negotiated his contract extension. Webb also trained at traditional safety and “star” (nickel cornerback). However, that was short-lived as he had a soft-tissue injury to his calf. This all came after he missed time in training camp last summer with a hamstring injury. Webb then only played in seven regular season games before landing on injured reserve after knee surgery. Nevertheless, the coaching staff still seemed to be high on Webb and viewed him as a reliable depth piece across multiple positions in the secondary early. However, as the saying goes, “Sometimes the best ability is availability.” Gavino Borquez, Chargers Wire

Los Angeles Rams: WR Jacob Harris

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Harris was a fourth-round pick in 2021, which is part of the reason this decision is so surprising. He’s a hybrid wide receiver/tight end who only started playing football in college, so he’s a raw talent. He’s also 6-foot-5 and 211 pounds with 4.4 speed, possessing rare athleticism for a player that size. The potential is there for Harris, but he needs polishing and work on his receiving ability. It wouldn’t at all be surprising if he catches on somewhere and carves out a role for himself, but the Rams’ receiver room is crowded so there wasn’t much room to keep him around – even in only his second season. – Cameron DaSilva, Rams Wire

Miami Dolphins: WR Lynn Bowden Jr.

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Bowden’s football journey has been an interesting one to this point, as he’s gone from collegiate quarterback to NFL wide receiver and overall weapon. He was drafted by the Las Vegas Raiders and was traded to Miami before his rookie season even started. While he’s played in just 10 games over the last two years due to injury, there were many that were hopeful that Mike McDaniel’s offense could make the most of Bowden’s abilities. However, some strong preseason performances and the ability to return punts and kicks weren’t enough for Miami to justify keeping him as the sixth wideout. Mike Masala, Dolphins Wire

Minnesota Vikings: DT Armon Watts

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A sixth-round pick in 2019 out of Arkansas, Watts had slowly worked his way up the depth chart into being a projected starter this season. There was a red flag sent by the coaching staff having Watts as the only starter to play in the second preseason game against the San Francisco 49ers after a week of joint practices. The move saves the Vikings $2.54 million in cap space and he was quickly replaced with a trade for Houston Texans DT Ross Blacklock. The approach by new general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah started to come into shape after trading away Jesse Davis: this is a moneyball approach. – Tyler Forness, Vikings Wire

New England Patriots: DB/ST Justin Bethel

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There’s no question the biggest surprise for the Patriots on Tuesday was the team cutting defensive back and core special-teamer Justin Bethel. The 32-year-old veteran was seemingly a roster lock until undrafted rookie free agent Brendan Schooler showed up and ruined the party. Schooler has hit the ground running as a future special teams ace for the Patriots, which was obviously bad news for Bethel. The move brought an end to a three-year tenure in New England for the former sixth-round draft pick. But don’t let the age fool you. The Patriots might have moved on, but Bethel can still help some team out there. – Jordy McElroy Patriots Wire

New Orleans Saints: Safety C.J. Gardner-Johnson

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So this isn’t a roster cut, but the decision to trade Gardner-Johnson to the Philadelphia Eagles had some big impacts on the initial 53-man depth chart. Safeties Justin Evans and Daniel Sorensen both made the squad following his departure. But if we’re strictly talking about players who got released outright, my vote goes to linebacker Eric Wilson. He saw plenty of snaps with the first-team defense and looked like the immediate backup for injured starter Pete Werner. He could re-sign soon once some other transactions are processed. – John Sigler, Saints Wire

New York Giants: QB Davis Webb

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General manager Joe Schoen and head coach Brian Daboll didn’t need to do much convincing, but they lured Davis Webb away from Buffalo with the promise of another opportunity to play. Webb also wanted to gamble on himself, believing he had what it took to squeeze a few more years out of the NFL before transitioning into coaching. And by all accounts, he proved that this preseason. He was arguably the Giants’ best quarterback and certainly the most comfortable in Daboll’s system, but it wasn’t enough. Although Webb is likely to return on the practice squad, most believed he performed at such a high level the team would just carry three quarterbacks. – Dan Benton, Giants Wire

New York Jets: S Jason Pinnock

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Pinnock looked like a lock for the 53-man roster. It seemed like a certainty he would be the No. 3 safety. He even ran with the first team in practice while Lamarcus Joyner was out sick. Pinnock started three games last season after transitioning from cornerback to safety and seemed to quickly grasp the position well. The team likely thinks they can stash him on their practice squad. They also really like undrafted free agent Tony Adams, as the team also cut Will Parks, who also had a nice camp. But without question, cutting Pinnock certainly surprised quite a few people. – Billy Riccette, Jets Wire

Philadelphia Eagles: WR Deon Cain

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Cain logged eight catches for 106 yards in three games this preseason, and looked like an under the radar candidate to make Philadelphia’s 53-man roster. His breakout performance came against Cleveland in Week 2, when he amassed 6 catches for 66-yards and he looked like the player that could push Jalen Reagor off the roster. Cain wasn’t able to crack the five player depth chart at receiver, and will have teams around the NFL interested in his athletic frame. Cain could also return to Philadelphia’s 16-man practice squad, where he’s certain to be elevated at some point in 2022. – Glenn Erby, Eagles Wire

Pittsburgh Steelers: RB Anthony McFarland Jr.

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It isn’t as though the Steelers have a plethora of talented running backs on the roster. Nevertheless, the team opted to waive running back Anthony McFarland. This leaves rookie Jaylen Warren as the primary backup to Najee Harris and Benny Snell inexplicably on the roster. McFarland was the second best back on the team in the preseason and finally looked like he was healthy and getting things together in terms of his fit in the offense. McFarland is a prime candidate to bring back on the practice squad and could end up back on the 53-man roster sooner rather than later if the Harris injury lingers into the regular season. – Curt Popejoy, Steelers Wire

San Francisco 49ers: WR Malik Turner

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Turner’s path to the 49ers’ roster was always going to be through special teams. He stood out in that area in San Francisco’s final two preseason games when he forced a fumble on a punt return vs. the Vikings and leveled a Texans punt returner in the finale. When Turner started mixing in circus catches in camp and producing as a pass catcher in the preseason it looked like he might’ve locked up a roster spot. Instead the 49ers released him and kept five WRs. – Kyle Madson, Niners Wire

Seattle Seahawks: CB Justin Coleman

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The Seahawks kept six cornerbacks on their initial 53-man roster, which surprisingly didn’t include Coleman. Coleman’s release came as a bit of a surprise, but it also solidifies rookie Coby Bryant’s role at nickel cornerback. Since Coleman is a vested veteran, he doesn’t have to clear waivers and is free to re-sign as a free agent with Seattle. Pete Carroll made it clear they’d like Coleman back – presumably after defensive end L.J. Collier is placed on injured reserve. – Alyssa Barbieri, Seahawks Wire

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: WR Tyler Johnson

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The Bucs obviously had a logjam at wide receiver this year, but the fact that Johnson ended up on the outside looking in is a bit unexpected. He led the Bucs in both receptions and receiving yards in the preseason, capping off a solid training camp with strong in-game performances. He’s still just 24 years old, and though he’s struggled with drops and consistency over his two years, there’s still plenty of upside here. He shouldn’t make it through waivers without getting claimed by another team, and for Johnson, he’s likely to find an easier path to playing time elsewhere. – Luke Easterling, Bucs Wire

Tennessee Titans: P Brett Kern

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While the Titans cutting Brett Kern wasn’t a total surprise after rookie Ryan Stonehouse was sensational in training camp and the preseason, it certainly qualifies as the biggest of the cuts the team made. Kern was one of the best punters in the NFL over 13 years with the team, but had seen a decline in his numbers the past few years, paving the way for Stonehouse to have a chance. The former First-Team All-Pro and Pro Bowler still has gas left in the tank at 36 and it won’t be long before he lands on his feet elsewhere. – Mike Moraitis, Titans Wire

Washington Commanders: RB Jaret Patterson

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The Commanders didn’t have any overly surprising cuts, but releasing Jaret Patterson and keeping veteran Jonathan Williams was a mild surprise. Patterson, a local kid, made the team as an undrafred free agent in 2021. While he didn’t receive a lot of playing time, he did rush for 266 yards and two touchdowns. With the uncertainty involving rookie Brian Robinson Jr. pushed Washington to keep an extra back, most believed it would be Patterson. If Patterson clears waivers, he likely ends back up on the practice squad. – Bryan Manning, Commanders Wire

Story originally appeared on Steelers Wire