With the draft now behind us, rosters for all 32 NFL teams are taking shape. But as we all know, roster building is a year-round process, and more moves will be made in the coming weeks and months as teams get ready for training camp in August. With a bunch of rookies coming in, other players on the roster look like the odd man out.
Let’s take a look at some players who find themselves in that situation after this past week’s draft.
8 Surprise Trade, Cut Candidates
Malik Willis, QB
The Tennessee Titans traded up in the second round to take Kentucky quarterback Will Levis, leaving Malik Willis — Tennessee’s third-round pick from last year — in a tough position. Willis was thrust into action in his rookie season after Ryan Tannehill suffered an ankle injury.
However, Willis struggled to get the offense moving, and the team eventually signed Joshua Dobbs and made him the starter for the season’s stretch run. Keep in mind Willis was drafted by former general manager Jon Robinson, who Tennessee fired last season.
Corey Davis, WR
But here’s the thing: The Jets already have Garrett Wilson and signed Allen Lazard, Mecole Hardman and just recently, Randall Cobb. If the Jets were to trade or release Davis, they’d save $10.5 million against the cap, which could come in handy throughout the upcoming season.
Patrick Queen, LB
Before the draft, there was chatter building that Patrick Queen was growing frustrated with the Baltimore Ravens. The team then went on to draft Clemson LB Trenton Simpson in the third round (Queen reacted on Twitter) and declined Queen’s fifth-year option for 2024.
That all comes after they extended LB Roquan Smith a few months ago on a five-year, $100 million contract, making it unlikely Queen sticks long-term. Baltimore was not willing to engage in trade talks involving Queen before the draft, but last week’s events make this a situation worth monitoring.
Chase Roullier, C
Chase Roullier was one of the Washington Commanders‘ most dependable starters from 2018-2020, but he has dealt with back-to-back years of unfortunate injuries. It seems like the team is poised to move in a different direction.
Washington signed former New York Giants center Nick Gates to a three-year deal in free agency and drafted Arkansas center Ricky Stromberg in the third round. Roullier’s cap hit for 2023 is $12.4 million, and the Commanders’ moves this offseason indicate Roullier won’t be sticking around at that number.
Ahkello Witherspoon, CB
The Pittsburgh Steelers signed Patrick Peterson in free agency and drafted Joey Porter Jr. and Cory Trice. The Steelers have 11 corners on the roster, and Witherspoon appears to be the odd man out, especially considering Pittsburgh would save $4 million against the cap if it released him. Witherspoon has played only 13 games in his two years with Pittsburgh.
Clyde Edwards-Helaire, RB
The Kansas City Chiefs declined Clyde Edwards-Helaire’s fifth-year option, which would have been worth roughly $5.5 million in 2024. The former LSU product has missed seven games in each of the last two seasons and was a healthy inactive for the Super Bowl against the Philadelphia Eagles.
Last year, the Chiefs found a seventh-round gem in Isiah Pacheco and just re-signed Jerick McKinnon, who took over as their lead pass-catching option out of the backfield last season.
A change of scenery for Edwards-Helaire might be the best thing for all parties.
Noah Igbinoghene, CB
Noah Igbinoghene is another player who just had his fifth-year option declined. He’s played in just 16 games during the last two years. Miami added Jalen Ramsey in a trade this offseason and used a second-round pick on South Carolina CB Cam Smith.
Igbinoghene likely will have an uphill battle to make the roster in training camp.
Anthony Schwartz, WR
Anthony Schwartz has hauled in just 14 of 33 targets for 186 yards since the Cleveland Browns used a third-round pick on him in 2021. All the moves Cleveland made this offseason leave Schwartz in a difficult spot.
Cleveland traded for former Jets receiver Elijah Moore, signed speedy receiver Marquise Goodwin and drafted Tennessee’s Cedric Tillman in the third round. All those players will be joining the likes of Amari Cooper, Donovan Peoples-Jones and Jakeem Grant (returning from an Achilles injury).