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Cut days always have a few surprises this time of year.
The ‘s emphasis on major upside on a year-to-year basis makes roster turnover a must, to the point household names get shown the door. Last year, one of the most notable releases was the Green Bay Packers showing guard Josh Sitton the door—he went on to have a dominant year with the Chicago Bears.
This year the releases will come fast and furious with notable names peppered throughout. Reasons vary, from poor performances to age, injury or something beyond, if not a combination.
Regardless of the reasoning, these are a few guys to keep an eye on as teams head for the fourth preseason game and make roster moves before and after.
Geno Smith, QB, New York Giants
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Geno Smith’s stay in the Big Apple might finally be coming to an end.
After an eventful four years with the New York Jets, Smith latched on with the New York Giants and put in post-injury work with the team this offseason on the hopes of becoming the primary backup behind Eli Manning.
It’s never so simple in the NFL, right?
Smith, a career 57.9-percent passer with 28 touchdowns against 36 interceptions, has had problems with consistency all preseason, to the point Giants head coach Ben McAdoo has made a point to stress Josh Johnson remains in the running for the job.
“We’re still not in a position to say who the No. 2 [quarterback] is,” McAdoo said, according to ESPN.com’s . “Thursday night we’re hoping it cleans itself up.”
The fact Smith heads into the fourth preseason game still fighting for the second spot says everything. It is easy to forget he is all of 26 years old still, so getting cut doesn’t mean his career screeches to a halt.
But look for the Giants to cut their losses and go with more experience, which the 31-year-old Johnson has.
Prediction: Giants cut Smith
Jermaine Kearse, WR, Seattle Seahawks
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The note about youth movements above comes into play here with Seattle Seahawks wideout Jermaine Kearse.
Kearse, now 27 years old, might find himself on the outside looking in with Seattle by the time the team finishes cuts in large part because of his salary, which comes in at a cap hit north of $4 million this year, per .
That is a rather large sum of cash for a guy who scored one touchdown a year ago over 16 games, catching 41 of his 90 targets.
Those 90 targets slotted Kearse behind and Doug Baldwin already. This year, breakout candidates like Paul Richardson and Tyler Lockett will start to see even more run, and don’t forget the Seahawks drafted Amara Darboh in the third round this year.
While Kearse is a big name even outside of the Seattle area, he is moving down the depth chart with an inflated salary. It seems like the obvious move will come, provided everyone remains healthy.
Prediction: Seahawks cut Kearse
, DL, Detroit Lions
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It’s hard to know if a youth movement can touch Haloti Ngata.
At this point, it isn’t even a youth movement as much as it is the little things. Ngata returned to the Detroit Lions this summer after at the age of 33.
No longer a pass-rushing threat, Ngata is still a quality anchor, and we only have a slight understanding of the value he brings to locker rooms because we aren’t actually in there with the team. But by all accounts, he has been a model veteran.
But the Lions aren’t hurting on the interior like they used to hurt, and Ngata has a cap hit flirting with the mark. He hasn’t played in a full 16-game season since 2011, and the Lions still have notables on the interior like A’Shawn Robinson, Khyri Thornton and Akeem Spence.
How much are the Lions willing to pay for a defensive anchor and a guy who leads the positional group? It’s impossible to say, but for now, keep an eye on Ngata, even if he’s projected to slip past cuts.
Prediction: Lions keep Ngata
T.J. Yeldon, RB, Jacksonville Jaguars
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It’s not often fans hear about an excess of talent when it comes to the Jacksonville Jaguars, yet here we are.
Drafting a guy like Leonard Fournette does that for a roster.
It would seem T.J. Yeldon is the odd man out in the Jacksonville backfield. Over 15 games a year ago, he mustered all of one touchdown on 130 attempts, going for a 3.6 per-carry average. He caught 50 passes for 312 yards and a score, but the versatility only goes so far given how easy it is for teams to cobble together committees these days.
Yeldon is once again dealing with a slight injury issue, which would explain the presence of DuJuan Harris on the roster. A bruising veteran like Chris Ivory figures to get the snaps next to Fournette, especially with the rookie looking like a guy capable of taking over every-down duties early on in his career.
While Yeldon remains on a cheap deal, if the Jaguars want a complementary back to the two established names, both Corey Grant and Harris have flashed in multiple areas. In a rush to usher in a new era, Tom Coughlin and the Jaguars might hit Yeldon with walking papers to speed up the fresh start at the position.
Prediction: Jaguars cut Yeldon
Stats courtesy of .