Roster cutdowns send talented players to new places
Chester Taylor had a below average 2010, but injuries to the Cards' backfield caused them to reach into the running back market. (Jerry Lai/US Presswire)
Saturday's NFL cut day -- the day by which each NFL team had to narrow its roster down to the regular-season limit of 53 -- launched a gaggle of capable players back onto the market. Several of them were snapped up in no time flat.
Here's a rundown of some of the bigger names changing locations over the weekend:
• Chester Taylor, RB (Cut by Chicago, signed with Arizona): The Cardinals found themselves in a bit of a backfield bind when rookie Ryan Williams was lost for the year due to injury. Taylor, meanwhile, was put through the wringer in Chicago -- rumors had him being released early last week, but the Bears kept him around until the last possible moment, maybe as insurance for Marion Barber's balky hamstring.
How much can Taylor help in Arizona? He's still a reliable pass-catcher, with 20 receptions last year and 44 the year prior, but his 2.4 yards-per-carry average last season was the worst in the league for anyone with more than 50 rushing attempts.
• Zac Diles, LB (Cut by St. Louis, signed with Tampa Bay): Diles' agent railed the Rams after his client was released, tweeting that Diles was never given a "full and fair opportunity to compete." Whatever the reason for Diles failing to make it through the preseason in St. Louis, the linebacker-thin Bucs don't mind.
Diles started 30 games over the past three seasons for Houston and is coming off a season in which he had a career-high 82 tackles. He's a versatile linebacker, capable of playing inside or out, and should stick in Tampa Bay for awhile.
• Brandon Meriweather, S (Cut by New England, signed with Chicago): Meriweather is coming off back-to-back Pro Bowl appearances for the Patriots but fell out of favor with Bill Belichick this preseason. He does have 12 interceptions over the past three years and made 68 tackles last season. Chicago already has Chris Harris and Major Wright penciled in as starters at the two safety positions, but Meriweather gives them another option in the defensive backfield.
• Brandon Tate, WR (Cut by New England, signed with Cincinnati): The third-year player out of North Carolina couldn't crack New England's deep wide receiver rotation this preseason, but he might be a nice fit for a Bengals team trying to get younger and more athletic.
Last year with the Patriots, Tate made 24 catches for 432 yards and three TDs, while also taking back a pair of kick returns for touchdowns. With Tate, Jordan Shipley, first-round pick A.J. Green and Jerome Simpson, the Bengals have put together a promising group at wide receiver.
• Brian Waters, G (Cut by Kansas city, signed with New England): The Chiefs actually sent Waters packing back in late July, but he didn't find a home until Sunday, when he landed with the Patriots. New England could wind up starting the five-time Pro Bowler and 11-year Kansas City stalwart at right guard in Week 1. Waters has missed just one game in the past three years and has played in all but three contests since 2002.
• Seyi Ajirotutu, WR (Waived by San Diego, claimed by Carolina): When you talk about under-the-radar moves with the potential to pay off big, this fits the bill. Ajirotutu stepped up with 13 catches for 262 yards -- a 20.2 YPC average -- and two touchdowns last season in San Diego, when the Chargers' receiving corps was riddled with injuries. Only 24 years old and entering just his second NFL season, Ajirotutu has the ability to stretch the field and make some big plays. If he gets a chance in Carolina, he could be a great find.
• Mike McGlynn, OL (Waived by Philadelphia, claimed by Cincinnati): Yes, the Bengals again. But when you're a team trying to rebuild, it doesn't hurt to take a shot on some talented players. McGlynn probably isn't going to make any Pro Bowls in the near future, but he did step in and start 14 games for Philadelphia last year and presents enough versatility that he could help Cincinnati at multiple spots on the line.
• Tavares Gooden, LB (Waived by Baltimore, claimed by San Francisco): No one in the Ravens organization was mistaking Gooden for Ray Lewis, so they turned him loose. What the 49ers wound up with as a result is an athletic linebacker who can contribute on special teams -- if he's healthy. That's been the bugaboo for Gooden through his three NFL seasons: staying on the field. He started 12 games for Baltimore in 2009, then saw action in 10 last season. He's just been unable to maintain his health thus far.
• Artis Hicks, OL (Cut by Washington, signed with Cleveland): Eric Steinbach's season-ending back injury put the Browns in a tough spot -- right now, rookie Jason Pinkston holds Steinbach's guard position, but Pinkston hasn't shown much indication thus far that he's ready to start 16 games for an NFL team. Hicks, meanwhile, made 10 starts for Washington last year and has started 68 games over his 10-year NFL career. He's not an elite blocker by any means, but he does provide the Browns with an experienced alternative on the inside. • Keiland Williams, RB (Waived by Washington, claimed by Detroit): The loss of Mikel Leshoure to injury earlier this preseason left the Lions, again, without a pounding back to complement the speedy Jahvid Best. Enter Williams, who rushed for 261 yards and caught 30 passes as a rookie with Washington last season. He's 5-foot-11 and a bulky 230 pounds, meaning he could fit in well with Best, Maurice Morris and Jerome Harrison. The fact that the Lions cut Aaron Brown, a player who'd shown some flashes as a pass-catcher and special-teams contributor, hints that they have faith in Williams' ability.