NFL teams are required to cut their rosters to 53 players by Saturday afternoon, just a few days after they went down to 75-man rosters. The cuts are swift and merciless — that’s life in the NFL — but for everyone on this list, they won’t be able to say they didn’t see it coming.
Getty ImagesThearon W. Henderson
Alfred Blue - RB - Houston Texans
He has six carries in the preseason, gaining 17 yards. He’ll need to do something truly tremendous in the fourth preseason game to stand a chance of making the Texans’ roster.
Getty ImagesGregory Shamus
Bishop Sankey - RB - Tennessee Titans
The Titans shocked many when they cut David Cobb in the team’s trim to 75 men, but that doesn’t mean that the team is done slashing running backs. Sankey’s inconsistent play since reaching the NFL hasn’t been corrected this preseason and with Tennessee's solid stable of running back prospects, the project is probably over.
Getty ImagesSean Gardner
Matt Barkley - QB - Arizona Cardinals
Remember when Barkley was the consensus No. 1 pick in the 2012 NFL Draft? Well, four years later, he’s likely heading to his third NFL team — if anyone picks him up at all. Barkley has reportedly been poor in Cardinals camp and his 30-for-57, two-touchdown, three-interception performance in the preseason didn't help matters.
Getty ImagesNorm Hall
Ryan Nassib - QB - New York Giants
The former Syracuse quarterback has been dreadful in the preseason, and while the Giants are likely to take him into the regular season as Eli Manning’s backup, a really poor performance in preseason game No. 4 could have the Giants looking to the free agent market.
Getty ImagesRich Schultz
Aaron Murray - QB - Kansas City Chiefs
The former standout quarterback at Georgia, who was expected to be Alex Smith’s top backup with Chase Daniel leaving for Philadelphia, has been buried on the depth chart by Tyler Bray and Nick Foles, who was signed this summer after being released by the Rams. Add in the Chiefs’ drafting of Kevin Hogan, and Murray’s chances look slim.
Getty ImagesPeter G. Aiken
Ronnie Hillman - RB - Denver Broncos
The former starter is no longer the backup, as Utah rookie Devontae Booker has been tremendous in the preseason and claimed the No. 2 job. Hillman is due $1.8 million this season, and his inability to separate from Colorado State product Kapri Bibbs raises red flags.
Getty ImagesJustin Edmonds
Geno Smith- QB - New York Jets
Maybe the Giants would be interested in Geno Smith. The Jets aren’t going to carry four quarterbacks into the regular season, and Smith’s fate might be directly tied to the play of Bryce Petty Thursday.
Darren McFadden - RB - Dallas Cowboys
There’s no better precursor for a cut than trade rumors surrounding a player, and there are a bunch surrounding McFadden. While he hasn’t played in the preseason, Alfred Morris has established himself as the No. 2 behind rookie back Ezekiel Elliott, leaving the former Arkansas Razorback on the bubble. Considering McFadden, who expected to be back for Week 1, is due a $500,000 roster bonus if he makes the 53-man squad, this should be an easy cut for the Cowboys — the report that they “really want to keep him” is probably just trade-value posturing.
Colin Kaepernick - QB - San Francisco 49ers
Lost in the controversy has been the unimpeachable fact that Kaepernick hasn’t played two good games in the last calendar year. Entering the preseason with a chance to win the starting job, Kaepernick has been outplayed by Blaine Gabbert, who hasn’t played all that well, as well as rookie Jeff Driskel, who doesn’t appear game ready, and, to a certain degree, off-the-street pickup Christian Ponder. Kaepernick’s salary is guaranteed, so the 49ers would be cutting him for the sole purpose of opening a roster slot. Controversy aside, he’s been poor enough to justify that move.
Getty ImagesKevin C. Cox
Aaron Dobson - WR - New England Patriots
Another player in trade rumors — the Patriots are reportedly looking to move Dobson, who came on strong in 2013, but has failed to recreate that rookie-year magic.
Getty ImagesGrant Halverson
Mark Sanchez - QB - Denver Broncos
Perhaps Denver can move Sanchez, but it’s going to be a hard sell to get anything back for a quarterback who lost the Broncos' starting quarterback job to Trevor Siemian in a landslide. The Broncos can recoup their late-round pick from Philadelphia should Sanchez be cut, while saving $3.5 million this season, which makes him as good as gone.