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32 NFL veterans on the roster bubble: Which players could struggle to make the team?

Every player is well aware their time in the NFL may be fleeting.

There can be myriad reasons why veterans are on the roster bubble entering training camp. Maybe they are at a position that has suddenly become crowded with talent. Maybe they haven’t performed up to expectation, in previous seasons and/or during recent OTAs. Or maybe their contracts are simply too expensive for what they bring to the table.

We asked our 32 NFL Nation reporters to pick a veteran player who might not make the regular-season roster. Then we asked each to explain why the player is in danger of missing the cut. You’ll find quarterbacks, running backs, wide receivers, linemen, linebackers and even a punter. You’ll find players under 25 and over 30. You’ll find former first-round picks and recent free-agent signees. The point is, anyone can be cut, and these 32 players might need to keep an eye out.

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32 NFL veterans on the roster bubble: Which players could struggle to make the team?

AFC EAST

32 NFL veterans on the roster bubble: Which players could struggle to make the team?

Greg Van Roten, OL

The Bills don’t have many roster battles, but there will be a fight for the final offensive line spot. After spending the past two years with the Jets, Van Roten, 32, was signed during the offseason program and brings needed experience to the interior of the Bills’ line. That doesn’t mean he’s guaranteed to make the final 53-man roster, and he’ll be battling for a spot with veteran interior lineman Greg Mancz, who has more experience playing center, and tackle Luke Tenuta, a sixth-round pick. — Alaina Getzenberg


32 NFL veterans on the roster bubble: Which players could struggle to make the team?

Salvon Ahmed, RB

Miami’s running backs room is packed with talent, and after the additions of Raheem Mostert, Chase Edmonds and Sony Michel, there may not be room for both Ahmed and last year’s leading rusher, Myles Gaskin. Ahmed showed flashes of being a capable starter in 2020, rushing for 250 yards and two scores in a three-game stretch — but that was two years ago, and in 2022 he is the odd man out due to Gaskin’s pass-catching ability. — Marcel Louis-Jacques


32 NFL veterans on the roster bubble: Which players could struggle to make the team?

Ty Montgomery, RB/WR

Signed as a free agent this offseason after spending two seasons with the Saints, he finds himself part of a deep wide receiver corps, so his best chance to stick projects as a returner or part of the running back group in a third-down-type role. Thus, Montgomery’s staying power seems tied to James White‘s progress in returning from a right hip injury, whether Rhamondre Stevenson can meet his goal of becoming more of a factor on third down, and the growth of 2022 draft picks Pierre Strong Jr. (fourth round) and Kevin Harris (sixth round). — Mike Reiss


32 NFL veterans on the roster bubble: Which players could struggle to make the team?

Denzel Mims, WR

The 2020 second-round pick, who has 31 catches and no TDs in two seasons, is no better than fourth on the depth chart among the outside wide receivers. He is behind Corey Davis, Elijah Moore and rookie Garrett Wilson. Mims, drafted by the previous coaching staff, has struggled to gain footing with the current staff. But he impressed in the offseason, perhaps a sign he’s buying into the program. — Rich Cimini

32 NFL veterans on the roster bubble: Which players could struggle to make the team?

AFC NORTH

32 NFL veterans on the roster bubble: Which players could struggle to make the team?

Tony Jefferson II, S

He’s a respected leader on the defense who overcame a severe knee injury and played well this offseason, picking off Lamar Jackson twice in minicamp. But Jefferson faces the challenge of being in the most loaded position group on the Ravens with Marcus Williams, Kyle Hamilton and Chuck Clark. Jefferson is battling for that No. 4 safety spot with Geno Stone, who is seven years younger. — Jamison Hensley


32 NFL veterans on the roster bubble: Which players could struggle to make the team?

Kevin Huber, P

This might be the first time in a few years where a veteran cut candidate doesn’t necessarily jump out. But Huber, the 14-year veteran, enters this training camp facing a little competition in Drue Chrisman, a 2021 Ohio State graduate who has bounced on and off Cincinnati’s practice squad as undrafted free agent. Huber needs one more appearance to set the franchise record for most games. He has played in 207 games, the same as cornerback Ken Riley (1969-1983). — Ben Baby


32 NFL veterans on the roster bubble: Which players could struggle to make the team?

D’Ernest Johnson, RB

After being tendered this offseason, Johnson did sign a one-year extension. But with only $900,000 guaranteed, the Browns could easily move on from Johnson, including via trade. Johnson has proved to be a quality backup running back. But with Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt in line again to command the bulk of the carries — to go along with Jerome Ford and Demetric Felton, whom the Browns have drafted the past two years — Johnson could be the odd man out. — Jake Trotter


32 NFL veterans on the roster bubble: Which players could struggle to make the team?

Justin Layne, CB

Since being selected in the third round of the 2019 draft, Layne has been primarily a special teamer. Despite injuries at cornerback last season, Layne played 28 defensive snaps, and James Pierre surpassed him on the depth chart. The Steelers didn’t pick up a corner in the draft, which works in Layne’s favor, but unless he shows a big jump in training camp, Layne is firmly on the bubble entering the final year of his rookie deal. — Brooke Pryor

32 NFL veterans on the roster bubble: Which players could struggle to make the team?

AFC SOUTH

32 NFL veterans on the roster bubble: Which players could struggle to make the team?

Max Scharping, OL

Scharping, a second-round draft pick in 2019, is entering the final season of his rookie deal. He started 11 games at right guard in 2021 but struggled enough that he certainly isn’t a lock to make the Texans’ final roster. Scharping and first-round pick Tytus Howard are the Texans’ only two selections left on the roster from the 2019 draft. — Sarah Barshop


32 NFL veterans on the roster bubble: Which players could struggle to make the team?

Ben Banogu, DE

Colts general manager Chris Ballard has had plenty of success picking in the second round. Darius Leonard. Jonathan Taylor. Michael Pittman Jr. Those are just a few in recent years. The same can’t be said about Banogu. The 2019 second-round pick has 19 tackles and 2.5 sacks in his career, and he spent the majority of the 2021 season on the inactive list. — Mike Wells


32 NFL veterans on the roster bubble: Which players could struggle to make the team?

K’Lavon Chaisson, OLB

The 20th overall pick in the 2020 draft has two sacks and 13 quarterback hits in 31 games, and the Jaguars drafted Travon Walker first overall this year to take his spot. Devin Lloyd, whom the Jags took 27th overall, also can play on third downs. While it seems a little unusual to give up on a first-round pick after only two years, this regime has already shown it has no qualms about moving on from highly drafted unproductive players. Last year, GM Trent Baalke dealt CB CJ Henderson, the ninth overall pick in 2020, to Carolina. Chaisson probably has another year to prove himself, but if he has a disappointing camp, his spot would be in jeopardy. — Michael DiRocco


32 NFL veterans on the roster bubble: Which players could struggle to make the team?

Jordan Wilkins, RB

Wilkins signed with the Titans in hopes of locking down the backup role to Derrick Henry after D’Onta Foreman inked with the Panthers. But Tennessee has a logjam at running back, with Dontrell Hilliard, Hassan Haskins and Trenton Cannon as the favorites to land roster spots. Wilkins doesn’t have the special teams prowess Cannon has and isn’t the same threat out of the backfield as Hilliard. Haskins is a big back who brings physicality when Henry isn’t on the field and is a natural pass-catcher. Wilkins needs to have an outstanding training camp to win a roster spot. — Turron Davenport

32 NFL veterans on the roster bubble: Which players could struggle to make the team?

AFC WEST

32 NFL veterans on the roster bubble: Which players could struggle to make the team?

Malik Reed, OLB

The Broncos certainly like Reed — everybody likes the affable Reed — and he has certainly bailed them out in three consecutive seasons, when Von Miller missed the 2020 campaign and when Bradley Chubb missed more than half of both the 2019 and 2021 seasons. But there is a new coaching staff, and the Broncos didn’t sign Randy Gregory to a $70 million deal to not be a starter, they didn’t draft Nik Bonitto in the second round to not keep him and they didn’t move Baron Browning — a starter at inside linebacker all of last season — to outside linebacker because they didn’t think he could have impact as a pass-rusher. Reed, as the fifth player at outside linebacker, could be in a heated battle with Jonathon Cooper for one remaining roster spot at the position. — Jeff Legwold


32 NFL veterans on the roster bubble: Which players could struggle to make the team?

Josh Gordon, WR

The top four at wide receiver will be difficult for Gordon to crack after the Chiefs signed JuJu Smith-Schuster and Marquez Valdes-Scantling and drafted Skyy Moore and with Mecole Hardman returning. The Chiefs are unlikely to retain Gordon as a fifth or sixth wide receiver without him helping on special teams, so the math doesn’t look good for him. — Adam Teicher


32 NFL veterans on the roster bubble: Which players could struggle to make the team?

Clelin Ferrell, DE

The No. 4 overall pick of the 2019 draft hasn’t lived up to his lofty draft standing, after registering 4.5 sacks as a rookie but 3.5 sacks since and six quarterback hits last season. And with the Raiders having signed vet Chandler Jones (a year after they brought in Yannick Ngakoue) to pair with Maxx Crosby, Ferrell did not have his fifth-year option picked up and might be on high alert. Unless, of course, he is a better fit in new defensive coordinator Patrick Graham’s scheme. — Paul Gutierrez


32 NFL veterans on the roster bubble: Which players could struggle to make the team?

Joshua Kelley, RB

Austin Ekeler is the Chargers’ lead running back, but the depth chart is a bit murky behind him. The Bolts selected Kelley with a fourth-round pick in 2020, but the third-year pro has yet to establish himself as a go-to option, rushing for only 102 yards on 33 carries last season. Kelley will soon find himself in a training camp competition that includes second-year pro Larry Rountree III, who rushed for 87 yards and a touchdown on 36 carries last season, and rookie Isaiah Spiller, a fourth-round pick from Texas A&M. — Lindsey Thiry

32 NFL veterans on the roster bubble: Which players could struggle to make the team?

NFC EAST

32 NFL veterans on the roster bubble: Which players could struggle to make the team?

Trysten Hill, DT

Hill, a former second-round draft pick, is entering the final year of his rookie deal and has yet to make much of an impact. Some of that is injury. He missed 22 games over the past two seasons because of a knee injury suffered in 2020. While the Cowboys like to use a rotation along their defensive line, Hill will be fighting it out with Neville Gallimore and Osa Odighizuwa for playing time at the 3-technique, and coordinator Dan Quinn isn’t opposed to using defensive ends on the interior. Depending on how he performs in the preseason, Hill could become a trade possibility, but there doesn’t appear to be a role for him beyond 2022, which makes him expendable. — Todd Archer


32 NFL veterans on the roster bubble: Which players could struggle to make the team?

Darius Slayton, WR

Slayton is entering the final season of his rookie deal, and there were at least some discussions about moving him last year and this offseason. With a new regime, his spot appears uncertain, especially after spending the spring working plenty with the second team, even with the top three wide receivers injured. It didn’t help that Slayton dropped some wide-open passes deep downfield during OTAs and minicamp. If the Giants’ wide receiving corps is healthy, they do have numbers. — Jordan Raanan


32 NFL veterans on the roster bubble: Which players could struggle to make the team?

J.J. Arcega-Whiteside, TE

Arcega-Whiteside, the team’s second-round draft pick in 2019, transitioned from wide receiver to tight end this offseason in hopes of extending his stay in Philly. He mostly served as a blocking receiver/special teams contributor in 2021, earning praise from the coaching staff for his efforts. He’ll be competing with Jack Stoll, rookie Grant Calcaterra, Noah Togiai and Tyree Jackson (once healthy) for a spot on the roster behind Dallas Goedert. — Tim McManus


32 NFL veterans on the roster bubble: Which players could struggle to make the team?

Antonio Gandy-Golden, TE

Gandy-Golden switched from wide receiver to tight end this offseason, likely a last-ditch effort to carve out a spot in the NFL. At 6-foot-4 and 230 pounds, Gandy-Golden’s size helps, but it will take a bit to successfully transition. Coaches have liked his progress thus far, but the 2020 fourth-round draft pick has to continue showing improvement to earn a spot. And he’d likely only make it if the Commanders keep four tight ends (assuming Logan Thomas has recovered from his torn right ACL/MCL in time to open the season). Gandy-Golden made some nice plays this spring but will have to show he can handle the physical aspects of the position when the Commanders put on the pads. — John Keim

32 NFL veterans on the roster bubble: Which players could struggle to make the team?

NFC NORTH

32 NFL veterans on the roster bubble: Which players could struggle to make the team?

Dane Cruikshank, S

There aren’t a lot of players who fit into this category for Chicago after the Bears overhauled their roster. Cruikshank was an addition during the second wave of free agency and was expected to fit in behind Eddie Jackson on the depth chart. With the addition of rookie Jaquan Brisker, who impressed the coaching staff with his versatility this spring, Cruikshank could be the odd man out if Chicago hangs on to four safeties, including DeAndre Houston-Carson and seventh-rounder Elijah Hicks. — Courtney Cronin


32 NFL veterans on the roster bubble: Which players could struggle to make the team?

Tim Boyle, QB

Boyle is pretty much on a one-year prove-it deal in Detroit and is facing tough competition against David Blough. Quarterback Jared Goff is the clear-cut starter, but Boyle must have a strong training camp if he wants that backup spot over Blough, who looked strong during the offseason. Coach Dan Campbell described the backup Lions quarterback competition during minicamp as something he respects. “Competition is a great thing. I respect what both of them did this spring,” Campbell said. “That’s what I love about both of them.” — Eric Woodyard


32 NFL veterans on the roster bubble: Which players could struggle to make the team?

Sammy Watkins, WR

The Packers didn’t invest much in Watkins — $350,000 signing bonus as part of a one-year deal. They’ve cut free-agent signees with bigger bonuses (see Devin Funchess). While they don’t have much veteran experience at the position, they did load up at receiver in the draft. If all three draft picks (Christian Watson, Romeo Doubs and Samori Toure) look ready to contribute by Week 1, perhaps Watkins won’t stick. — Rob Demovsky


32 NFL veterans on the roster bubble: Which players could struggle to make the team?

Olisaemeka Udoh, G

Udoh started 16 games in 2021, but he tied for the NFL lead in penalties, and it appears the Vikings’ new coaching staff is looking to replace him. Newcomer Jesse Davis got most of the reps at right guard during minicamp, and the team also used a second-round pick on guard Ed Ingram. — Kevin Seifert

32 NFL veterans on the roster bubble: Which players could struggle to make the team?

NFC SOUTH

32 NFL veterans on the roster bubble: Which players could struggle to make the team?

Deion Jones, LB

This is a tricky one, because Jones not being on the roster would likely come more due to a trade than a release — but at this point, anything is possible with the 2017 Pro Bowler. His dead money (almost $19 million) would be tough for Atlanta to deal with, but it already has over $63 million in dead cap space for 2022, so it might not matter that much. To be clear, this doesn’t mean Jones won’t be on the team this fall — he could be — but rather that his overall situation with the Falcons is up in the air. — Michael Rothstein


32 NFL veterans on the roster bubble: Which players could struggle to make the team?

P.J. Walker, QB

The real question is, will the Panthers bring in somebody else to compete with Sam Darnold to be the starter? The team won’t cut rookie Matt Corral. Even if a veteran isn’t added, Walker might be expendable if Corral shows he can be the backup. Walker appears to have reached his ceiling in what he can do in the NFL. — David Newton

Update: The Panthers traded for Baker Mayfield on Wednesday, pushing Walker further down the QB depth chart.


32 NFL veterans on the roster bubble: Which players could struggle to make the team?

Zack Baun, LB

The Saints traded up to draft Baun in the third round in 2020 with plans of developing the college edge rusher into an off-ball linebacker. However, he has barely played on defense — despite being healthy for all 17 games last year. And the Saints have now drafted linebackers Pete Werner and D’Marco Jackson in Rounds 2 and 5, respectively, over the past two years. Baun will have to prove he’s ready for a bigger role on defense or a major special teams role to secure his spot. — Mike Triplett


32 NFL veterans on the roster bubble: Which players could struggle to make the team?

Giovani Bernard, RB

With Leonard Fournette becoming a three-down back, Ke’Shawn Vaughn‘s improvement and the Bucs selecting Rachaad White in the third round of the NFL draft, where does that leave Bernard? He’ll be 31 in November, and he caught 23 passes for 123 yards and had 58 rushing yards on eight carries last year. If White assimilates into the Bucs’ system quickly and can consistently pick up a blitz, Bernard could be left out. — Jenna Laine

32 NFL veterans on the roster bubble: Which players could struggle to make the team?

NFC WEST

32 NFL veterans on the roster bubble: Which players could struggle to make the team?

Andy Isabella, WR

Isabella played 52 snaps in eight games last season, so his impact on the offense has been minimal. His speed is coveted by coach Kliff Kingsbury, but his production doesn’t warrant a spot on the roster, especially when the Cardinals have been rebuilding their receiving corps. And with the additions of Marquise Brown and with Rondale Moore, Arizona has the speed it needs — and that speed will see the field. It might not matter how well Isabella performs at camp. — Josh Weinfuss


32 NFL veterans on the roster bubble: Which players could struggle to make the team?

Bobby Evans, OL

The Rams have so much depth and young talent on the offensive line, Evans might not make it on Los Angeles’ final 53-man roster. Evans has played in 23 games for the Rams over the past three seasons and ultimately lost out on the starting right guard job to Austin Corbett last season. Evans will now likely be competing with 2022 third-round pick Logan Bruss, Coleman Shelton and Tremayne Anchrum Jr. for reps at right guard and a roster spot. — Sarah Barshop


32 NFL veterans on the roster bubble: Which players could struggle to make the team?

Jimmy Garoppolo, QB

The 49ers have said repeatedly they don’t intend to release Garoppolo. However, he’s due to count $26.95 million against their cap if he’s on the roster this season, and even if the Niners can afford it (they say they can), that’s an exorbitant price for an insurance policy, even at the game’s most important position. Once Garoppolo’s right shoulder is healed, the Niners will try to trade him. If they can’t, they’ll have to at least consider attempting to bring him back at a significantly reduced price or releasing him outright. — Nick Wagoner


32 NFL veterans on the roster bubble: Which players could struggle to make the team?

Marquise Goodwin, WR

The Seahawks signed Goodwin in May to a minimum-salary deal that includes only $152,500 guaranteed. That minimal of a commitment indicates he’s fighting for one of the final few spots behind the presumed top four of DK Metcalf, Tyler Lockett, Freddie Swain and Dee Eskridge. The 31-year-old Goodwin will be competing with younger players such as Penny Hart and rookie seventh-rounders Bo Melton and Dareke Young. — Brady Henderson

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