NFL Roster Cutdown Roundup: IDP Dynasty Analysis


There are few events in the NFL that can singularly the dynasty values of multiple players at a time. The NFL Draft, the start of free agency, the trade deadline and so-called “Black Monday” when often multiple coaches get fired at the end of each regular season, are all events that immediately spring to mind as instances when multiple player valuations are subject to be altered.

However, a fifth, lesser-known event that occurs each season also tends to create alterations in the values of multiple players, the NFL’s yearly cutdown deadline. The cutdown deadline specifies that each team in the league must cut their rosters down to 53 players with the option to place an additional ten players onto their practice squad. Teams can place additional players onto their Injured Reserve (IR) list but those players will be ineligible to play for the remainder of the season unless tagged as Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) or Injured Reserve Returning (IR-R). Each team can tag one player as IR-R, allowing that individual to return follow Week Six, but that player will count towards the team’s 53 player maximum. However, teams can specify multiple players as PUP but those players must return before Week Six or be placed on IR.

NFL teams must all work within the confines of those restrictions and produce an active roster of 53 players before 4:00 PM EST on Saturday August 31, 2019. This yearly event produces a lot of surprise cuts and teams will often monitor the cuts made throughout the league for players they can acquire via a waiver claim. Therefore, any player who ends up being cut does have the possibility of finding a new team in short order, so all hope isn’t lost.

Armed with the knowledge, here is a look at some defensive players who have been let go in this season’s round of cuts and what this means for their value and outlook going forward:

T.J. McDonald – Safety – Cut from the Miami Dolphins

One of the first and more surprising cuts to hit the chopping block this year was safety McDonald, who was released last week. McDonald is fresh off the second-best statistical season of his six-year career, posting 86 tackles and a career-high three interceptions. McDonald likely became expendable due to a combination of the play of Bobby McCain, the flexibility of second-year defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick and the more restrictive nature of Reshad Jones’ contract. McDonald is a name to watch in the coming days as he will likely find a home in short order. Pay close attention to the New England Patriots, Jacksonville Jaguars, San Francisco 49ers and Washington Redskins as potential suitors.

Brandon Marshall – Linebacker – Cut from the Oakland Raiders

Brandon Marshall was just signed by Oakland this off-season for a highly-affordable, one-year, half-million-dollar contract. Marshall was alternating between middle linebacker and weakside linebacker for the Raiders and was slated to be a starter. Coming off a knee injury last season while playing for Denver, Marshall opted to test the market as a free agent but found little interest as teams were concerned about his recovery. The New York Giants, Los Angeles Rams and Denver Broncos could be potential landing spots.

Teez Tabor – Cornerback – Cut from the Detroit Lions

Only two short seasons after the Lions selected Teez Tabor in the second round of the 2017 NFL Draft, his time in Detroit came to an abrupt end on Friday. Ranking as one of the worst coverage cornerbacks by Pro Football Focus, Tabor’s lack of speed caused substantial headaches for Detroit whenever he was on the field. Tabor may have a harder time than expected finding a new team.

Su’a Cravens – Safety – Cut from Denver Broncos

Despite being one of the highest-ranked safeties in the 2016 rookie class and the third safety selected that year, Su’a Cravens has yet to find any traction in the NFL. Beginning his career with Washington, Cravens dealt with severe concussions and briefly retired in 2017. The Redskins traded him to Denver in 2018, but injuries to his knee forced the Broncos to place him on IR prior to the start of the season where he has remained. Cravens may garner another shot based on his name recognition alone, but his NFL career appears to be in peril at this point.

Dakota Allen – Linebacker – Cut from Los Angeles Rams

Dakota Allen was one of the most dominant freshmen linebackers in the nation in 2015 before being dismissed from Texas Tech due to a burglary charge. Following his dismissal, Allen transferred to East Mississippi Community College and was prominently featured in the Netflix show “Last Chance U”. His play at East Mississippi ultimately earned him a reunion of Texas Tech where he was named Second Team All-Big 12 in 2017 and First Team All-Big 12 in 2018. The Rams, believing Allen to be a low-risk, high-reward prospect, drafted him in the seventh round of the 2019 NFL Draft. The departure of Mark Barron and a preseason injury to Micah Kiser lead many to believe that Allen’s roster spot was secure prior to Saturday afternoon. Los Angeles may try to sign Allen to their practice squad if he is able to clear waivers.

Cassius Marsh – Defensive End – Cut from Seattle Seahawks

Journeyman Cassius Marsh saw his second stint in Seattle end abruptly on Saturday as the Seahawks’ addition of Jadeveon Clowney cast the Seahawks’ defensive line roles into flux. Marsh is fresh off a career year in 2018 where he posted 38 tackles and 5.5 sacks for the 49ers. Marsh’s performance last year made him a popular bye week fill-in for defensive end-needy teams. Look for Marsh to be claimed off waivers as a depth signing.

Shane Ray – Linebacker – Cut from Baltimore Ravens

Shane Ray had been looking to get his career back on the right path after suffering a wrist injury in 2017. A first-round draft pick by Denver in 2015, his career began with a bang, contributing to the Broncos’ 2015 Super Bowl win and following it up with a career season in 2016 where he amassed 48 tackles and eight sacks. However, following his injury, Denver chose not to exercise his fifth-year option and he signed with Baltimore in the off-season. Ray’s preseason concluded with just two tackles and half of a sack. Ray may be given another shot elsewhere but he would likely be strictly a depth signing at this point.

Jachai Polite – Linebacker – Cut from New York Jets

In a yet another surprising move, in a day filled with such moves, the Jets opted to cut Jachai Polite, a player they drafted just five months ago in the 2019 NFL Draft with their third-round pick. As such, the cut is more than a bit puzzling, but the internal strife within the Jets’ front office in recent months could have played a role in Polite’s fate. It would be quite surprising if another team didn’t take a chance on him given where he was drafted and the situation he stepped into.

Noah Spence – Linebacker – Cut from Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Throughout the preseason, Noah Spence was projected to start at outside linebacker for Tampa Bay once the regular season began. An injury to Jason Pierre-Paul made Spence’s cut even more puzzling, given that Pierre-Paul isn’t likely to return before Week Six. Spence was drafted by the Buccaneers in the second round of the 2016 NFL Draft but always seemed a poor fit in Tampa Bay’s 4-3 defense over the past three seasons, tumbling down the depth chart and suffering an injury in 2017. Spence shot back up the depth chart this offseason as the Buccaneers opted to move to a 3-4 defense where he would revert to his more natural standing up edge rusher role. Spence will likely find a new home in short order with the aforementioned Ravens and Jets both being possibilities.

Of note, Kiko Alonso has expressed a desire to be traded or cut from Miami. Alonso could lead a second round of cuts if the Dolphins can’t find a trading partner. Be sure to pay close attention to that situation as well as additional ripples or aftershock waves of walking papers as teams actively look to improve their rosters by claiming recently cut players off of waivers.