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Big-name players who can't make cut
Vince Young was once considered a franchise quarterback.
Now, he can’t even stick with a franchise through the first major round of NFL preseason player cuts.
“I want to thank the Bills organization for the opportunity and wish the organization and my teammates good luck this season,” Young wrote in a Twitter message confirming his release.
At this time six years ago, Young was set to enter his first season with the Tennessee Titans following a storied college career at Texas. He proceeded to win NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year honors and was considered a rising star.
Young, though, gradually fell out of favor with then-Titans head coach Jeff Fisher. He was injured in the 2008 regular-season opener and never started again that season even when healthy as replacement Kerry Collins guided Tennessee to a 13-3 record.
Young regained the starting position midway through the 2009 campaign and appeared to have matured on and off the field before more problems with Fisher erupted the following season. Young threw his shoulder pads into the crowd and stormed out of the locker room during Fisher’s post-game speech following a Week 11 loss to Washington. He never played for the Titans again, getting cut during the 2011 offseason.
Young resurfaced with Philadelphia, starting three games and appearing in three others in place of an injured Mike Vick in 2011. Young went 1-2 as a starter and finished the season with four touchdowns and nine interceptions. The Eagles opted not to re-sign him.
Young, 29, was signed by Buffalo in hopes he could push Tyler Thigpen for backup duties behind Ryan Fitzpatrick. Young, though, failed to impress. He completed 12 of 26 passes with two interceptions in last Saturday’s 38-7 loss to Pittsburgh. The Bills then completed the trade for Jackson, the former Seahawks starter who had slipped to third-string on Seattle’s depth chart behind Russell Wilson and Matt Flynn.
There is no obvious spot where Young may land next considering the league-wide lack of interest in his services before Buffalo signed him in May.
All NFL teams must have their rosters reduced to 75 players by 4 p.m. ET Monday. The final round of preseason roster cuts to 53 players must be completed by 9 p.m. ET Friday night.
Expect even more personnel tinkering after that, especially with veteran players who are on the bubble. Any veteran on the 53-man roster for the opening game of the regular season has his base salary guaranteed for the entire year. That may prompt some teams to release fringe veterans in hopes of re-signing them in Week Two or later in the season.
Here are some other former starters or high draft picks released in the first wave of player cuts:
Baltimore kicker Billy Cundiff: Cundiff probably wouldn’t be unemployed if he had made a 32-yard field goal late in last season’s AFC Championship game. Cundiff, though, shanked the attempt with 15 seconds remaining as New England secured a 23-20 victory and trip to Super Bowl XLVI. Baltimore head coach John Harbaugh said Cundiff had enjoyed his “best” training camp since joining the Ravens. That still wasn’t good enough to erase the memories of last season’s miss or turn back Justin Tucker’s strong push for a roster spot. An undrafted rookie from the University of Texas, Tucker made all five of his attempts in preseason games, including a 53-yarder in last Thursday’s matchup against Jacksonville. The Baltimore Sun reports that Tucker made 93.2 percent of his attempts (96 of 103) during training camp practices compared to 83.8 percent for Cundiff (88 of 105).
Carolina kicker Olindo Mare: In retrospect, the Panthers would probably have been better off keeping John Kasay – the kicker for the franchise’s first 17 seasons – than signing Mare to a four-year, $12 million free-agent contract in 2011. Mare entered the preseason already on thin ice after missing two late field goals in Panthers losses last year. Journeyman Justin Medlock is now the frontrunner to keep the job unless Carolina brings in some new competition.
San Diego wide receiver Roscoe Parrish: The chance to make the team was there for Parrish after the Chargers lost Vincent Brown to a broken ankle. But Parrish logged only two preseason catches and, according to profootballtalk.com, was waived on Monday morning. Parrish spent his first seven NFL seasons with Buffalo but struggled to stay healthy in recent seasons.
Seattle wide receiver Terrell Owens: Owens let a legitimate chance to get back into the NFL literally slip through his hands. Owens had too many preseason drops, including two in last Friday night’s game against Kansas City. Owens indicated on his Twitter account that he would like to continue playing, but no future opportunities appear imminent for a declining 38-year-old who carries plenty of off-field baggage.
Detroit safety Sean Jones: Coming off two seasons as a 16-game starter in Tampa Bay, it’s surprising that Jones couldn’t stick with the Lions. Jones, though, struggled in pass coverage during the preseason. The continued development of 2011 undrafted free agent Ricardo Silva helped make Jones expendable.
New Orleans defensive end Remi Ayodele and quarterback Luke McCown: Considered a rising player after starting on the Saints’ Super Bowl XLIV-winning defense in 2009, Ayodele was trying to reclaim a roster spot in New Orleans after being waived during the offseason by Minnesota. McCown started the first two games for Jacksonville last season before being benched in favor of rookie Blaine Gabbert. The Saints seem likely to carry only two quarterbacks on their 53-man roster and Chase Daniel is cemented as Drew Brees’ backup.
Denver long snapper Lonnie Paxton: This was a surprise considering Paxson has proven so dependable over the past 12 seasons, the last three of which were spent with the Broncos. Aaron Brewer, an undrafted rookie from San Diego State, appears to have the inside track to become Denver’s new snapper.
New England wide receivers Donte’ Stallworth and Jabar Gaffney: New England cut ties with a veteran wideout for the fourth time this year when releasing Stallworth and Gaffney (Chad Johnson and Anthony Gonzalez were cut during the offseason). Gaffney is coming off a 68-catch, 947-yard season with the Washington Redskins. Gaffney, though, suffered a quadriceps injury during the preseason and was unable to unseat any of New England’s top five receivers (Wes Welker, Brandon Lloyd, Julian Edelman, Matt Slater or Deion Branch) for a roster space. Stallworth was once a good enough player to command a seven-year, $35 million contract from the Cleveland Browns during the 2008 offseason. Stallworth, though, was suspended for the entire 2009 season and later cut by the Browns after his arrest and subsequent plea bargain on DUI manslaughter charges. Stallworth, 31, had 22 catches for 309 yards and two touchdowns last season for Washington.
New England defensive tackle Gerard Warren: Warren has never lived up to the expectations that came with being the No. 3 overall pick in the 2001 NFL draft, but he has forged a lengthy NFL career with Cleveland, Denver, Oakland and New England. The development of younger linemen led the Patriots to cut ties Monday morning with the 34-year-old Warren after two seasons with the team.
Washington kicker Neil Rackers: Graham Gano can breathe a little easier. Gano held off the challenge of the 36-year-old Rackers, who ESPN first reported was waived on Monday morning. Rackers made a 28-yarder and missed a 54-yarder on Aug. 18 against Chicago in his only preseason game attempts. Gano hasn’t attempted any preseason field goals but has made all five of his extra-point attempts.
New York Jets wide receiver Dexter Jackson: A blazing time in the 40-yard dash posted at the NFL Scouting Combine helped elevate Jackson into becoming a 2008 second-round pick by Tampa Bay. Jackson, though, struggled so badly that he was waived a year later. Jackson has since failed to stick with Carolina or the Jets, which released him over the weekend.
Seattle tackle Alex Barron: The No. 19 overall pick in the 2005 draft, Barron committed too many penalties for five seasons as a St. Louis Rams starter. The Dallas Cowboys learned that the hard way in the 2010 season-opener after acquiring Barron in a trade. A holding penalty on Barron nullified what would have been the game-winning touchdown pass from Tony Romo to Roy Williams on the final play of a 13-7 loss to Washington. Barron spent time last season on injured reserve with New Orleans before resurfacing with the Seahawks. Seattle also released former Arizona Cardinals starting guard Deuce Lutui, a 2006 second-round pick.
Philadelphia cornerback Cliff Harris: Harris was an All-America cornerback who was kicked off the team at Oregon in 2011 for numerous violations of team rules and legal infractions. Harris simply didn’t impress enough with the Eagles to crack a deep secondary.
Chicago defensive end Thaddeus Gibson: A 2010 fourth-round pick by Pittsburgh, this former Ohio State standout has already spent time with six different franchises. Gibson is now looking for a seventh after being cut by the Bears.
Atlanta tight end Chase Coffman: Coffman’s struggles adjusting to the NFL were exposed during his rookie season in Cincinnati on "Hard Knocks." Coffman, a 2009 third-round pick, was waived by Tampa Bay earlier in training camp.
Jacksonville cornerback Ashton Youboty: The six-year veteran had a fumble return for a touchdown against Houston last season in his Jaguars debut but later landed on injured reserve after hurting his knee. Youboty played with Buffalo from 2006 to 2010.
New York Jets kicker Josh Brown: After playing in every game since 2003, the 33-year-old Brown might not be on a Week 1 roster. Brown was cut Monday morning after failing to best incumbent kicker Nick Folk for a roster spot. Brown’s four-season run in St. Louis ended earlier this year after the Rams drafted Greg “The Leg” Zuerlein. Brown made one of his two field-goal attempts Sunday night against the Carolina Panthers, converting from 34 yards and sending a 45-yarder wide left; Folk went 3 for 3. In a classy move, Brown praised his Jets teammates in a Twitter message following his release.