NFL roster cuts 2021: Top free agents following 53-man moves

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NFL roster cuts 2021: Top free agents following 53-man moves originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea

NFL teams were forced to trim their rosters down to 53 players by 4 p.m. ET Tuesday, sending some surprising players onto the market. 

With a whole new crop of available players, which ones will be the most sought after? Here’s a look at top talents searching for new teams after cutdown day:

Cam Newton, quarterback

Bill Belichick created the biggest story of the day when the New England Patriots released Cam Newton and vaulted rookie quarterback Mac Jones into the starting role. Newton started each of the Patriots’ three preseason games, but the team reportedly became frustrated with him after a “misunderstanding” with COVID-19 protocols kept him away from the team for five days last week.

Newton threw eight touchdowns, ran for another 12 and tossed 10 interceptions during his first season in New England, which ended with a 7-9 record. The former NFL MVP could be an enticing option for a team seeking an experienced backup signal caller.

Devonta Freeman, running back

New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton praised Devonta Freeman’s versatility after the running back signed with Saints at the start of training camp, but the veteran was released on Tuesday. Freeman was competing with Latavius Murray, Dwayne Washington and Tony Jones Jr. for a backup spot behind Alvin Kamara in the New Orleans backfield.

Freeman made two Pro Bowls during his six-year stint with the Atlanta Falcons before suiting up for the New York Giants in 2020.

Jordan Howard, running back

Jordan Howard finds himself on the move once again after getting cut by the Philadelphia Eagles on Tuesday.

The running back scored 24 touchdowns and earned a Pro Bowl nod during his first three NFL seasons with the Chicago Bears. He followed that up with a six-touchdown 2019 season with the Eagles before splitting the 2020 season with the Miami Dolphins and Eagles.

Travis Fulgham, wide receiver

Travis Fulgham erupted onto the scene midway through the 2020 season for the Eagles. From Week 4 through Week 8, Fulgham hauled in four touchdowns and 435 receiving yards across five games. From Week 9 on, though, he only had 104 yards over seven games and failed to find the end zone.

With the addition of first-round wideout DeVonta Smith and an expected improvement from 2020 first-rounder Jalen Reagor, the Birds opted to go in a different direction at receiver.

Travis Benjamin, wide receiver/kick returner

Travis Benjamin was an explosive weapon in the passing and return game during his first eight NFL seasons with the Cleveland Browns and Los Angeles Chargers. He joined the San Francisco 49ers in 2020 but chose to opt out of the season.

He was looking to earn a spot with the 49ers before suffering a head injury in the team’s preseason finale against the Las Vegas Raiders on Sunday and subsequently getting cut on Tuesday.

Breshad Perriman, wide receiver

The Detroit Lions cut Breshad Perriman on Monday even after making a $2 million commitment to him. The team guaranteed 80 percent of his $2.5 million contract, but the veteran wide receiver still did not make it onto Detroit’s 53-man roster.

Perriman took the field for the Baltimore Ravens, Cleveland Browns, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and New York Jets during his first five NFL seasons. He has 14 career receiving touchdowns, including three last season in New York.

Matt Skura, center

The Dolphins released center Matt Skura on Monday after trading for Greg Mancz over the weekend.

Skura made 51 starts over his first four NFL seasons with the Ravens, who had far and away the No. 1 rushing offense in 2020.

Mike Daniels, defensive tackle

Former Pro Bowl defensive tackle Mike Daniels is available after getting cut by the Cincinnati Bengals on Tuesday.

Daniels spent the first seven years of his career with the Green Bay Packers. He joined the Lions in 2019 before heading to Cincinnati in 2020. The Bengals had the fourth-worst run defense in the NFL during his first year with the team, while Daniels had 17 tackles and zero sacks across 11 games.

Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, defensive back

Ha Ha Clinton-Dix wasn’t with the San Francisco 49ers for long, but managed to send announcers Greg Papa and Tim Ryan into hysteria with a preseason interception against the Las Vegas Raiders.

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The veteran safety has played for the Packers, Washington Football Team and Bears during his career, earning a Pro Bowl nod with the Packers in 2016. He signed a one-year contract with the Dallas Cowboys before the 2020 season but was released just a week before their season opener and did not play at all during the year.

After getting waived by the 49ers, Clinton-Dix will look elsewhere to resume his NFL career.

Desmond Trufant, defensive back

After parting ways with Kyle Fuller earlier this offseason, the Bears brought in Desmond Trufant as a veteran cornerback option. Matt Nagy’s squad will be rolling with other options at the position, though, after releasing Trufant on Tuesday.

Trufant spent the first seven years of his career with the Falcons, earning a Pro Bowl selection in 2015. He played the 2020 season with the Lions and picked off one pass in six games.