Last Cuts Are the Deepest; A Few Vets Say Goodbye
SAM FARMER / ON THE NFL
Last cuts are the deepest for NFL coaches
Getting down to the 53-man roster limit is hard on staffs as well as the players who are cut. Saturday was the deadline, and that meant plenty of pain around the league.
Sam Farmer 9:07 p.m. CDT, September 3, 2011
NFL teams on Saturday completed what can be their most difficult and painful task of the summer. They trimmed their rosters down to 53 players, in some cases saying goodbye to franchise fixtures.
New England bid farewell to Pro Bowl safety Brandon Meriweather, a trouble-prone talent taken in the first round five years ago.
Chicago said so long to running back Chester Taylor, a move telegraphed when the Bears signed veteran Marion Barber.
And defensive tackle Tommie Harris, once a force in the middle for Chicago, couldn't carve out a spot in Indianapolis.
Patriots Coach Bill Belichick called cutting players "the worst part of the job."
"Guys work hard, they give you everything they've got," he said. "They go out there and compete, and not everybody can make it. It's always a tough time of year for myself and all the other position coaches as well. . . . But unfortunately, we all understand that's part of the process and business."
Meriweather, who was entering the final season of the five-year contract he signed as the 24th overall draft pick in 2007, is a two-time Pro Bowl safety who was fined $50,000 (later reduced to $40,000) last season for two helmet-to-helmet hits on Baltimore tight end Todd Heap. Also, Meriweather was implicated in an off-season shooting but was later cleared by authorities.
The Patriots let some other familiar names go, too: running back Sammy Morris and receiver Brandon Tate, the team's third receiver last season who also returned kicks — a less valuable commodity now that kickoffs have been moved up five yards to promote touchbacks.
A handful of reserve quarterbacks (with starting experience elsewhere) were shown the door: Kellen Clemens by Washington, Brodie Croyle by Arizona, and Josh McCown by San Francisco.
Running back Larry Johnson, a first-round pick in 2003 and onetime star in Kansas City, was shown the door by Miami a mere two weeks after he arrived. That was after Johnson played well in the exhibition finale against Dallas, showing flashes of his earlier years with a 22-yard touchdown run around the right side.
In the end, he wound up on the wrong side of the cuts/keeps list.
The New York Jets are green, so it stands to reason they recycle. And that's just what they're doing with linebacker Aaron Maybin, maybe the biggest bust in Buffalo Bills history. Maybin, the No. 11 overall pick in 2009, was released by the Bills two weeks ago. He played in 27 games over three seasons, collecting 24 tackles and no sacks.
The Jets signed him, and last week Coach Rex Ryan said Maybin needed to do more to make the team. Evidently, Maybin did enough. He had three tackles and 1.5 sacks in an exhibition finale against Philadelphia, earning one of the coveted spots.
Ryan said Maybin's "play rushing the passer is what landed him on the roster."
St. Louis parted ways with receiver Donnie Avery, who was a rising star in 2009 but missed last season because of a knee injury. Also waived was fellow Rams receiver Mardy Gilyard.
Oakland, which lost Pro Bowl cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha in free agency, felt good enough about its situation at the position to cut corners Lito Sheppard and Walter McFadden.
Meanwhile, San Diego showed the door to the facility swings both ways. On the same day the Chargers let go of defensive lineman Ogemdi Mwagbuo and receiver Seyi Ajirotutu, they signed free-agent linebacker Na'il Diggs, who was released by the Rams this week. A 10-year veteran, Diggs started 12 games at outside linebacker in St. Louis last season but is expected to move inside for the Chargers.
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