The NFL regular season is rapidly approaching and with it comes a time in a general manager’s tenure they often despise, having to cut dozens of players en route to reaching the roster limit of 53 on Aug. 31. But first, it’s the cut to 85 following Week 1 of the preseason, where the typical “backend” of the roster has their dreams of reaching NFL glory, at least for now, cut short.
However, as it pertains to each and every year, unforeseen situations and scenarios occur, leaving organizations without a plan B and in desperation mode as the season and its annual injury bug begins to rear its ugly head. Add COVID-19 restrictions and potential positive tests into this year’s litany of obstacles, and many of the players cut in the initial round of transactions will likely find themselves with a chance to produce moving toward the meat of an NFL campaign. Whether it be on the scout team, as a depth player, or as a spot starter, many of the players who will hit the open wire in the coming weeks by no means lack the talent capable of producing and holding a spot on Sunday. Rather, the current organizational landscape, positional depth, and many other internal factors play a factor into a player’s future with that specific franchise.
While names continue to roll in prior to Tuesday’s deadline, here are a few recently waived players who could very easily find themselves not just on a roster in the coming weeks, but as a contributing factor in each team’s ultimate goal of reaching the Super Bowl.
Noah Spence, EDGE (New Orleans Saints)
A former second-round selection of Tampa Bay in 2016, Spence hasn’t been able to find a stable home as he enters his sixth season in the NFL. With 41 appearances over four seasons from 2016-19, Spence failed to appear in a game last fall after tearing his ACL and floundered when given an opportunity to produce during camp after re-signing with New Orleans on a one-year deal prior to the start of offseason workouts this past spring.
A physically gifted talent off the edge, Spence was as dominant a rusher you could find in college football, appearing in 12 games as a true freshman before enjoying a breakout campaign as a sophomore, starting 13 games, recording 50 tackles and eight sacks.
Following multiple off-field issues, Spence transferred to Eastern Kentucky in 2015 where amassed 11.5 sacks on his way to being named the Ohio Valley Conference co-Defensive Player of the Year.
Still just 27 years old, Spence, when healthy, has the tools to produce off the edge on Sundays. The importance of a pass rush in today’s game has become an ever-pressing need for teams around the league. For a talent in Spence who hasn’t found his right situation to thrive in just yet, taking a flier on a former second-round pick should garner high interest as we progress through the preseason.
Kelvin Harmon, WR (Washington Football Team)
An eight-game starter in 2019 for the burgundy and gold, Harmon suffered a torn ACL prior to the 2020 season. The injury forced Harmon to miss the entirety of his second season, a year in which much was expected from the former sixth-round selection after a productive debut campaign. The 6-foot-2 Harmon recorded 30 receptions for 365 yards, good for 12.2 yards a pop, remaining healthy for each of Washington’s 16 matchups.
Now fully healthy, Harmon found himself in a battle for snaps inside a dynamic room of pass-catching talent in Washington that simply outperformed the former Wolfpack standout, leading to his release. An outstanding blocker with physical hands and an explosive lower half, Harmon is still just 24 years of age with much left in the tank to prove he deserves a spot on Sunday.
The kicking game in the NFL has become increasingly difficult, especially over the last couple of seasons with the movement of extra points back to the 15-yard line, 13 yards further than the original LOS at the two. Each and every week games are won—and lost—on the foot of a team’s kicker, leaving much to be desired in one of the most scrutinized positions in all of professional sports. While some teams have opted to roster both a kickoff specialist and placekicker in years past, the latter will become arguably the hottest market of any position as we near the kickoff of the 2021 season.
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