Training camp is here, which means football season is just around the corner. While fans can finally breathe a sigh of relief, while coaches hold theirs and hope their star players make it through unscathed.
When it comes to training camp, a lot of eyes are on the rookies and new signings. On how they bed into the team, how the coaches are using them and which might give a team the extra boost they need to make it to the Super Bowl.
However, there are other battles that can be just as important, and those come on the fringes of the roster and usually with veterans. Despite the salary cap increases, there are always teams who are strapped for cash, and with rookie contracts being considerably cheaper, it is often the veterans who find themselves marginalized when it comes to cut day. So, we take a look at five veterans who are in danger of losing their jobs this month.
Mike Wallace, WR, Baltimore Ravens – Saves $4.75 million
Baltimore have had an incredibly unfortunate few weeks. With injuries all over the roster, both short and long term, to go along with an unexpected retirement that has left gaping holes in the offensive line. While that might necessitate holding onto players like Wallace, it also makes 2017 almost a lost year already. With just $4 million in projected cap space, per Spotrac, and players like Breshad Perriman and Jeremy Maclin who can play his role for far cheaper on the team, Ozzie Newsome could be tempted to send Wallace packing come cut day.
Alfred Blue, RB, Houston Texans – Saves $690,000
Lamar Miller is entrenched as the #1 back in Houston, and with good reason after his 1,073-yard season last year. The #2 spot seems to be heading to rookie D’Onta Foreman, a third round pick out of Texas. So the question is, why spend money on Blue?
He has been in Houston for three years and averaged just 3.6 yards a carry while adding very little in the passing game. Blue did contribute on on special teams, but his primary job is to be a ball carrier, and as any fantasy owner who has used him to handcuff their starter knows, he’s not very good at that.
Doug Martin, RB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Saves $5.76 million
This one might sound like a stretch but stay with me here. While the Bucs aren’t tight against the cap (they are projected to have $23 million in space) they have never been a charity when it comes to holding onto players who don’t perform up to their price tag.
For three of his five-year career, that would accurately describe Doug Martin. His yards per carry totals per season go as follows: 4.6, 3.6, 3.7, 4.9, 2.9 – he has been the model of inconsistency. With a three-game suspension, the Bucs coaching staff will make sure they get plenty of looks at Jacquizz Rodgers, rookie Jeremy McNichols, and others, and if they get a hint of a more consistent and predictable back then don’t be surprised if Martin gets some bad news before the season starts.
Harry Douglas, WR, Tennessee Titans – Saves $1.5 million
This one very much depends on how the newcomers pan out in Tennessee. The 5th overall pick Corey Davis, together with free agent signing Eric Decker, have loaded the Titans with quality options, and if they quickly bed into the offense and form some chemistry with Marcus Mariota it could leave Douglas on the outside looking in.
For all his name recognition he only caught 15 passes last year for 210 yards and has just 51 catches for 621 yards and two touchdowns in his Titans career. At nearly 33 he is no spring chicken, and if he is pushed out of a #3 role with them the Titans could well decide to save some money and give the roster spot to a young player who could improve down the line and contribute on special teams.
Niles Paul, TE, Washington Redskins – Saves $1.3 million
With Jordan Reed missing time last year, Niles Paul saw just 10.5% of offensive snaps and caught just two passes for 27 yards thanks to Vernon Davis’ presence. Going into 2017 Paul is a TE3, and while that can be a useful player, Paul is not going to be providing much of anything if he does see the field.
Jordan Reed is injury-prone, and Washington lost some of their key receivers from last year, but with Josh Doctson expected to come on and with Terrelle Pryor now on board there are going to be plenty of options, leaving Paul with very little real use.
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