Saturday's NFL: Bills cut LeSean McCoy as teams trim rosters
The cruelest day of the NFL’s long calendar arrived Saturday with teams setting their 53-player rosters.
Among the more prominent dismissals were Bills veteran running back LeSean McCoy, backup quarterbacks Brian Hoyer (Michigan State) in New England and Kevin Hogan in Denver and receivers Laquon Treadwell of Minnesota, Demaryius Thomas of New England and Josh Doctson of Washington a first-round pick in 2016.
“It’s always a hard day because … you ruin a lot of dreams,” Broncos general manager John Elway said. “It’s the hard part of the business.”
The cuts capped an interminable preseason that featured fewer stars than ever on the field with quarterbacks Aaron Rodgers, Philip Rivers, Jared Goff and Carson Wentz taking not a single snap and other established stars preparing for the season through joint practices more so than in exhibition games.
The final weekend before the NFL kicks off its 100th season saw teams scrambling to get stars into their headquarters. The Seahawks were working to acquire Jadeveon Clowney from the Texans and the Cowboys were ramping up efforts to get holdout running back Ezekiel Elliott back in time for opening weekend.
The Texans were the busiest team in the league. They also acquired left tackle Laremy Tunsil from the Dolphins in a deal that netted them receiver Kenny Sills, a person familiar with the deal told The Associated Press. Houston also sent O-lineman Martinas Rankin to the Chiefs for running back Carlos Hyde.
Tunsil improves a line that allowed Deshaun Watson to get sacked an NFL-high 62 times last season.
Bills GM Brandon Beane cited the emergence of rookie running back Devin Singletary in the team’s surprising decision to cut the 31-year-old McCoy.
“It was very difficult,” Beane said. “I believed in LeSean the whole time and again, it was down to the last minute we decided to go in this direction.”
Another surprise cut by the Bills was veteran cornerback Captain Munnerlyn, who signed with Buffalo three weeks ago after E.J. Gaines was hurt. Munnerlyn had played for coach Sean McDermott in Carolina.
Overall, nearly 1,200 players were told they didn’t make the cut this weekend. Some will land with other teams and others will sign onto practice squads Sunday. But the vast majority of them won’t ever play professional football again, making way for another influx of college stars next April.
A remarkable streak continued in Indianapolis, where Andrew Luck provided the biggest stunner of the offseason by retiring last week. With tight end Hale Hentges of Alabama making the team, the Colts have now had an undrafted player make the roster for the 21st consecutive season, a streak that began with Chukie Nwokorie and Terrence Wilkins in 1999.
For the 15th time in the past 16 years at least one undrafted college free agent made the Broncos’ initial roster. This time it was Nevada linebacker Malik Reed and Colorado State linebacker Josh Watson.
The Broncos need a backup to new quarterback Joe Flacco after cutting Hogan and rookie Brett Rypien. Elway said rookie Drew Lock (thumb) will go on IR Sunday with the hope he can return at midseason.
“We’re exploring all options” at quarterback, said Elway, adding running back Theo Riddick (shoulder) and tight end Jake Butt (knee) will also go on IR.
In other notable moves:
►The Patriots released Tom Brady’s backup, Hoyer, who was beaten out by rookie Jarrett Stidham, a fourth-rounder from Auburn.
►Jaguars linebacker Myles Jack signed a four-year contract extension worth $57 million that includes $33 million guaranteed, a person familiar with the deal told the AP.
►The Falcons brought back 44-year-old K Matt Bryant after failing to find his successor in the preseason.
►Browns veteran punter Britton Colquitt lost his job to an undrafted rookie Jamie Gillan, aka “The Scottish Hammer.”
►The Vikings jettisoned kicker Kaare Vedvik, whom they had acquired from Baltimore on Aug. 11 for a fifth-round draft pick.
►The Eagles released their two top rushers from last season: Josh Adams and Wendell Smallwood, and Stefen Wisniewski, the starting left guard for the 2017 Super Bowl championship team.
►Chargers fifth-round pick Easton Stick beat out Cardale Jones for the third quarterback spot and fifth-year safety Jaylen Watkins, who was thought to be safe after the injury to Derwin James, was a surprise cut, although he might go back once James is placed on IR.
►The Giants waived quarterback Kyle Lauletta, a fourth-round pick a year ago.
►49ers running back Jerick McKinnon went on IR, meaning he’ll miss a second straight season after having complications in his recovery from a knee injury.
►Steelers undrafted linebacker Tuzar Skipper made the roster after collecting an NFL-high five sacks in the preseason.
►The Jets cut third-round pick Jachai Polite, a pass rusher from Florida who was selected by previous GM Mike Maccagnan, who was fired a few weeks after the draft and replaced by Joe Douglas.
►The Bengals decided to keep injured receiver A.J. Green on the active roster to open the season, hoping he can return from ankle surgery in less than eight weeks.
►Chiefs wide receiver De’Anthony Thomas is suspended for the season opener for violating the NFL’s substance-abuse policy.
►The Titans traded wide receiver Taywan Taylor to the Browns for a 2020 draft pick.
►The Raiders placed defensive tackle Justin Ellis on season-ending injured reserve with a knee injury.
►The Buccaneers acquired offensive tackle Jerald Hawkins and a draft pick from the Steelers for a sixth-round pick in the 2021 draft.