Jonathan Dwyer, Kenny Phillips among cut players who could find new homes soon
“We’ll continue to compare the bottom of our roster versus the field, like all teams do this time of year,” Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said on Tuesday. “There are a lot of quality players out there, and we’re in the process of evaluating them.”
In other words, no 53-man NFL roster today looks exactly as it will look 17 weeks — or even 17 days — from now. Front offices are constantly searching the scrap heap for usable parts, and the recent influx of players to free agency only accelerated that process.
And with that in mind, here are a few of the guys cut last week who could have value for another team:
• Jonathan Dwyer, RB: Dwyer’s release came as a surprise, given that he knew the Steelers’ system and performed rather well for them.
However, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported that the Steelers’ decision was spurred by the fact that “his coaches did not feel he took his job seriously enough.” Dwyer also arrived at camp weighing 265 pounds, up 36 from his listed weight in 2012. He’ll have to fight the growing perception that he’s unmotivated, but his experience ought to land him at least a second look somewhere.
• Michael Robinson, FB: A $2.5 million contract and the recent revelation that Robinson could miss several weeks with an undisclosed illness led to his release in Seattle. Once he’s healthy, he could provide a fullback-needy team with a proven, versatile option.
• Stephen Peterman, G: The 31-year-old Peterman may be limited to filling out a depth chart now after being cut by the Jets. He actually didn’t even make it through New York’s first round of cuts, getting the ax to help the team reach the initial 75-man roster limit. Peterman did grade out neutrally in Pro Football Focus’ rankings last season as a member of the Lions.
• Chris Kluwe, P: Kluwe lost the Raiders’ punting battle this preseason to Marquette King. Punters do not generate the strongest market, but Kluwe has averaged a respectable 45.3 yards per punt over the past two seasons. Though that number doesn’t challenge the NFL’s top dogs at the position, such as Brandon Fields (50.2) or Andy Lee (50.9 in 2011), Kluwe should eventually get another opportunity.
• Vince Young, QB: Take your pick of reclamation projects at quarterback. Young, Matt Leinart, JaMarcus Russell, Jimmy Clausen and Tim Tebow are all sitting out there at the moment.
The 30-year-old Young could not stick in Green Bay, after being given the opportunity to serve as Aaron Rodgers’ backup — the Packers signed Seneca Wallace this week to take over that job. The reviews on Young out of Green Bay were not all that glowing either, so Young may not find a new home overnight. Still, of the QBs available, he’s the most talented.
• Max Starks, OT: That Starks could not hold off King Dunlap on a shoddy San Diego line does not bode well for his future prospects. He did start all 16 games for Pittsburgh last season, though, so he may wind up back in the Steel City before all is said and done. Before long, there will be a team out there looking to add some veteran depth on the line.
• Braylon Edwards/Austin Collie, WR: A pair of formerly talented wide receivers who have been unable to shake injury woes of late. Edwards caught five passes in two games for the Jets this preseason, but he again struggled to stay on the field — a leg injury limited him in the days leading up to his release.
Collie, meanwhile, seemed to have a shot on a 49ers roster in need of help at receiver. But he failed to make much of an impact, still hobbled from the knee injury he suffered last season. Collie, like Edwards, has enough ability left to keep plugging away, but both players will need to find favorable landing spots.
• Kenny Phillips, S: Phillips has gradually drifted into the Bob Sanders Zone. Sanders, a Colt from 2004-10 before a brief stop in San Diego, had all the talent in the world and simply could not stay on the field. Phillips has had similar issues, though he started 15 games in both 2010 and ’11.
Lingering knee woes led to the Giants letting Phillips walk this offseason, and he was then unable to secure a spot in the Philadelphia secondary. He’s an extremely solid player when healthy … which has not been often enough.
• Ron Bartell, CB: Despite having a headstart of several months on Rashean Mathis, Bartell still lost his gig in the Detroit secondary (a shoulder injury did not help). At 31, he’s on the downside of his career, but is still capable of pitching in at cornerback, at least in a nickel role.
• Andre Carter, DE: Does the 34-year-old Carter still want to play? Being released by the downtrodden Raiders probably will not help his motivation level. That said, he’s just one season removed from a 10-sack showing with the Patriots. There are teams out there shy on situational pass-rushers, and Carter fits the bill, if he wants to keep going.