Pencils down, time to regroup.
That's the message throughout the NFL as front offices made the difficult decisions of whom to keep and whom to cut when trimming their initial rosters to 53 players.
With the league's deadline for getting down from 90 players having come and gone, this is the time when front offices and pro personnel scouts earn their stripes as the available talent pool balloons to 1,184 players recently released.
With teams now aiming to bolster their rosters — and form their practice squads for the upcoming 2023 NFL season — here's a look at three best fits for some of the most surprising players who were released on cut day.
Chosen Anderson, WR
The wide receiver formerly known as Robbie will be looking for a new chosen destination after being released by the Miami Dolphins.
Chosen Anderson, 30, has struggled to find his footing in either Carolina or Arizona after spending the first four seasons of his career with the New York Jets. Last season, Anderson caught 20 passes for 282 yards and a touchdown while appearing in 10 games for the Arizona Cardinals after being traded by the Panthers, where he made five starts. The Cardinals saved $12 million this offseason by releasing Anderson, who seemed miscast in Arizona's scheme. At this stage, Anderson is probably best cast as a depth contributor out of the slot.
Best fits: Green Bay Packers, Houston Texans, New England Patriots
Bradley Roby, CB
There might not have been a more surprising cut than the New Orleans Saints releasing their projected starting slot cornerback.
Bradley Roby, 31, would bring a wealth of experience to his next destination, having appeared in 126 games for the Saints, Denver Broncos and Houston Texans. Last season, opposing quarterbacks managed a meager 79.4 passer rating when targeting Roby. With free agency and the NFL Draft now distant dots in the rearview mirror, there might not be a better or more proven slot cornerback available. Expect Roby to find a robust market, given his experience and the value of the position he plays.
Best fits: Minnesota Vikings, Jacksonville Jaguars, Chicago Bears
Myles Gaskin, RB
Myles Gaskin, who is a spark plug of a runner, has proved to be a steady and reliable back. But he lost out on the numbers game in Miami, behind the likes of Raheem Mostert and Jeff Wilson, with the Dolphins also exploring the possibility of trading for Jonathan Taylor.
Last season, Gaskin rushed for just 26 yards on 10 carries while battling through illness. However, when healthy, he showed some explosive upside, rushing for 1,355 yards and seven touchdowns and adding 101 receptions for 701 yards and six more scores through his first 38 career games. Whether it is a team looking for insurance on an injury-prone veteran or an offensive scheme that deploys its backs as pass catchers out of the backfield, Gaskin should be a commodity in coming days.
Best fits: Indianapolis Colts, Jacksonville Jaguars, Los Angeles Rams
Deion Jones, LB
The Panthers were banking on Deion Jones to provide a steady veteran presence, but Carolina opted instead to move forward with Chandler Wooten, Frankie Luvu and Kamu Grugier-Hill.
Jones should see significant interest from teams looking to bolster their linebacker corps, especially after finishing a strong preseason with six total tackles and one run-stop, while garnering a 63.8 overall grade from Pro Football Focus. A Pro Bowl selection in 2017, Jones has an elite nose for the football; through the first seven seasons of his career, he produced 696 total tackles with 11.0 sacks, plus 12 interceptions including five returned for touchdowns. Finding scheme familiarity and the opportunity to start on the inside could be high on his priority list as a free agent.
Best fits: Indianapolis Colts, Las Vegas Raiders, Dallas Cowboys
Devon Allen, WR
The Eagles have built one of the deepest and most dynamic receiving corps in the NFL — so even with literal Olympic track-runner speed, Devon Allen was unable to climb the depth chart in Philadelphia.
Allen missed some playing time this summer after suffering an injured calf while training for the Olympics, but he showed some flashes of the value he brings via his speed during the preseason. The Olympic hurdler and former Oregon standout caught three of his four targets this season, as Eagles quarterbacks logged a 93.8 passer rating when targeting him. Teams looking to add a deep threat who can stretch the field could see value in Allen's skill set.
Best fits: Cleveland Browns, Denver Broncos, Kansas City Chiefs
Oshane Ximines, Edge Rusher/LB
The Giants moving on from Oshane Ximines is a bit surprising, given that he was a third-round pick in the 2019 NFL Draft. However, Ximines was chosen by former Giants general manager Dave Gettleman, and New York acquired pass rusher Boogie Basham in a trade with the Bills on Tuesday.
The 26-year-old has appeared in 45 career games, producing 67 total tackles with nine tackles for loss plus 6.5 sacks, including a career-high 4.5 as a rookie. Ximines would bring some explosiveness to a team looking for a veteran rotational pass rush presence.
Best fits: Kansas City Chiefs, Los Angeles Chargers, Tennessee Titans
Austin Watkins Jr., WR
While Austin Watkins Jr. might not have the production of many of the names on this list, he might have the most upside.
The undrafted rookie turned in an outstanding preseason, catching 15 passes for 245 yards and a pair of touchdowns — which could make it difficult for the Browns to get Watkins through waivers and back onto the practice squad. Watkins was one of the brighter stars in the USFL, catching 16 passes for 197 yards and a touchdown. The leading receiver in the NFL should see plenty of teams trying to claim him, especially because the Browns had a 115.8 passer rating when targeting him, and he averaged 4.2 yards after the catch per reception this summer, according to Pro Football Focus.
Best fits: Pittsburgh Steelers, Atlanta Falcons, Chicago Bears
DeMarquis Gates, LB
DeMarquis Gates is a versatile linebacker who's capable of throwing his weight around as a thumper but is also a solid contributor as a gunner on special teams.
One of the brightest stars to emerge from the USFL, Gates made three appearances for the Bears last season, tallying one special teams tackle. Gates battled through some nagging injuries during training camp, but teams looking to bolster special teams with a player capable of stepping in and contributing meaningful defensive snaps could make ideal landing spots.
Best fits: Philadelphia Eagles, Buffalo Bills, Denver Broncos
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