The NFL’s final roster reduction deadline usually brings some surprises. Some moves were motivated by money, but some because veterans’ talents regressed.
Here’s a look at the top cutdown day moves
1. Seahawks release T.J. Houshmandzadeh — The cost to cut him Saturday after just one season is quite large. The veteran receiver signed a five-year, $40 million deal with $14.5 million guaranteed in March 2009. Houshmandzadeh’s $7 million base salary for 2010 is fully guaranteed, so that made him virtually untradeable. But his fate might have been sealed once a new coaching staff and front office was in place earlier this year. No longer did he have any life preserver. New head coach Pete Carroll’s staff clearly was looking elsewhere, even at such a great cost. With Houshmandzadeh gone, one of Carroll’s former players from USC, Mike Williams, will get a realistic chance to revive his career — possibly in Houshmandzadeh’s place.
2. Broncos release Jarvis Green — This one really was one of the biggest surprises of cutdown day if you consider everything associated with the Denver’s decision to sign the defensive lineman. Green was signed specifically to play in Denver’s 3-4 scheme. They signed him to a four-year deal worth a maximum of $20 million with nearly $3.26 million guaranteed with the belief that the 31-year-old end would anchor one of the defensive end spots. That never wound up happening. His former team, the New England Patriots, are hurting for depth at defensive end, so it wouldn’t be a surprise if they showed interest in Green.
3. Arizona lets go of Matt Leinart — In no great surprise, the Cardinals finally gave up on the 10th overall selection from the 2006 draft. Leinart never seemed very comfortable behind center in Arizona. He looked a bit slow in every phase of his game. When watching Leinart over the years, it became apparent that his delivery of the football was simply too slow and he checked down way too much. That’s a sure sign that he does not trust what he’s seeing from the defense. Part of Leinart’s problem is he’s not used to being under pressure. In college at USC, he rarely faced a pass rush. Wherever he signs next, the coaches will have to be patient with him. At times during his career, he’s shown flashes of talent, but he needs to be way more consistent in every phase of his game in order to be successful.
4. Eagles trade Stacy Andrews to Seahawks — Just one season after Philadelphia signed offensive lineman Stacy Andrews to a six-year, $38.9 million deal, the team traded him Saturday. It’s a curious move since Philadelphia already paid him a $4.1 million roster bonus in early March. Some personnel evaluators believe he’s better off playing outside at right tackle instead of at guard. Andrews started 29 games at right tackle for the Cincinnati Bengals in 2007-08. With Seattle, he should get a chance to compete for playing time at right tackle and possibly at guard.
5. Broncos trade Alphonso Smith to Lions — When Denver gave up a future first-round pick to select the defensive back in the second round of the 2009 draft, it might have caught some observers off-guard. However, Smith was very highly regarded by many scouts and personnel evaluators. He appeared in 15 games as a rookie, but only in roughly 14 percent of the defensive snaps. A pro personnel source said Smith looked lost after viewing his game tape. Perhaps a change in scenery will help him. And the Lions, who acquired Smith, certainly could use help at cornerback.
6. Jaguars trade Reggie Nelson to Bengals — The Jacksonville Jaguars selected Nelson in the first round of the 2007 draft based on his athleticism and playmaking ability. At times, the safety displayed exactly what Jacksonville was looking for. But in recent seasons, his play regressed significantly, personnel sources said. In fact, Nelson missed too many tackles and was too often out of position. With his trade to the Cincinnati Bengals, Nelson will play under defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer, who is known in league circles for instilling discipline with his players. It will be interesting to see if Zimmer can revive Nelson’s once-promising career.
7. Dolphins waive goodbye to Pat White — At the 2009 Senior Bowl week practices, White wowed scouts with his accuracy, arm strength and mobility. He followed that up with a strong combine workout. He moved well up draft boards — all the way to the second round. White was clearly drafted with the hope that he could provide Miami with some badly needed athleticism at quarterback. Instead, he seemed a bit timid in the pocket and struggled badly with his footwork and with touch on his passes. So, Miami decided to give up on White after just one season. Some personnel evaluators believe he would be better off as a slot receiver because of his small frame.
8. Arizona releases 2009 second-round pick — Outside linebacker Cody Brown did not play in his rookie season because of a wrist injury. The former University of Connecticut defender clearly was not in the team’s long-term plans. "We assess our team on what we think is important, finishing plays, reduction of the mental errors,” Arizona coach Ken Whisenhunt said. “We just didn’t feel like going forward it was a good fit.” Still, Brown should find a job rather quickly since he was highly touted coming into last year’s draft.