The NFL offseason almost always serves as a ruthless reminder of just how difficult it is to maintain a position on a roster. Barring the upper-tier players in the sport, there's never a guarantee for anybody. Whether it be due to a difficult cap situation, regression of skill, or lack of production, there are always roster cuts that take place during the offseason. Many times, they aren't even foreseen. It's not an exaggeration to say that anybody's number could be called at any time during the offseason.
So as per usual, throughout the next seven months until the start of the regular season, we're going to see some relatively big names get dropped from their team. Simply, it's the nature of the business, and many of them will be picked up at some point to put them in a better-suited situation. For now, all we can do is speculate on who that will end up being, so let's take a look at some possibilities that may be coming down the pike, seeing their release from their present team.
Ranked below are 5 quarterbacks, 5 running backs and 5 wide receivers who will be cut from their team in the NFL offseason.
15 Quarterback: Sam Bradford
The Vikings, with all of their quarterback issues at the moment, aren't likely to offer a contract extension to the one player at the position on their roster, who's proven consistently that he can't stay healthy. To Bradford's credit, he's played fairly well in Minnesota since being traded to them prior to the 2016 campaign, but the fact is that he's injury-prone and that probably isn't going to change.
Someone will sign him on the free agent market, if he doesn't retire, and Bradford will probably get another chance as a backup.
Of course, he has to want that to be his status from here on out. The near-certainty here is that the Vikings will move on from him, not that he will be in the league next season. We may have seen the last of Bradford, in what has been an unfortunate career.
14 Running Back: Jamaal Charles
As his usage increasingly dwindled during the 2017 season, Charles became vocally upset at how small of a role he had in the Denver offense. It's not hard to imagine a former perennial All-Pro being less than enthralled at the prospect of being a 2nd-string player on a so-so offense, but that was the case last season with the Broncos.
Charles is going to be leaving Denver for sure, and hopefully he can sign with a contender that has a chance at giving him so degree of playing time on a decent offense.
He successfully return from his devastating injury suffered in Kansas City, and there's still time for him to be productive for a contending team. Charles could be a low-key effective pickup in the offseason.
13 Wide Receiver: Kenny Britt
After flaming out of Cleveland last year, on a deal that he strictly took for the money, no doubt, Britt was picked up by the Patriots for their playoff run. It wasn't a surprising move, as Belichick and company have a penchant for picking up talented players who are either past their prime, or have just been cut, but there doesn't seem to be a long-term future for Britt, in New England.
At least, it would be a surprise if there was. The Patriots have shown that as quickly as they can pick up some of these castoff-type players, they can cut them loose after just half a season. This is likely to be the case with Britt, unless he can proves that he's able to maintain his job this summer, with a healthy Julian Edelman returning to the receiving corps.
12 Quarterback: Mark Sanchez
Sanchez's NFL career is fading fast, after not spending a single game active with the Bears last season. There's just very little incentive for anyone to go out and acquire player that has steadily regressed every year he's been in the league. It's clear that Sanchez isn't a competent starter at this point, and the Bears have no reason to keep him on their roster
This will either be a training camp cut, or it could even happen at the beginning of the offseason.
It depends how much Chicago will need a camp body at quarterback, but either way, you won't be seeing Sanchez on their roster next season. A team in desperate need of a backup or in-house third-string option is the most likely landing spot for him right now. Not exactly flattering praise.
11 Running Back: Terrance West
The Ravens need running back help, but whether or not an oft-injured player like West is worth it, is up for debate. A low-risk contract is a possibility that would still allow them to cut him in training camp if need be. Certainly, West hasn't proven that he deserves the starting job, especially with replacement Alex Collins thoroughly outplaying him last season, and looking far more like the number one backfield option that Baltimore needs.
So West may hang around for some of the offseason, but if they're looking to move him, it won't take much convincing. Collins and Javorious Allen are ahead of him on the depth chart at this point, and at the age of 27, he's likely already hit his ceiling. Expect the Ravens to cut ties.
10 Wide Receiver: Brice Butler
Dez Bryant isn't the only receiver on the roster that has been giving the Cowboys headaches recently. Butler has voiced his opinion on his lack of starting time very early in this offseason, and for someone with such a mediocre talent level, it's clear that going back to Dallas isn't a guarantee.
Butler has showed flashes during his career, but he's never been able to prove that he's earned a starting job.
The Cowboys have given him in-game opportunities, and he's never stood out at an elite level. He very well may just be cut loose before the season starts, as a locker room with so many unnecessary distractions doesn't need another one, especially for a player that has a limited ceiling at this point in his career.
9 Quarterback: Geno Smith
Smith got one lone start for the Giants before they decided to give the job back to Eli Manning, and he didn't make much of an impression. It seems that Smith is destined for a training camp release this summer, due to the presence of 3rd-round pick Davis Webb, who is younger and has more upside at this point in his career.
Between this and the potential for New York to draft yet another quarterback this year, Smith is the odd man out.
Another backup job is likely on the horizon for him, though it wouldn't be surprising to see him out of the league entirely. He just hasn't been able to live up to expectations since being drafted, and is pretty much a dead weight player right now. The Giants won't feel compelled to keep him.
8 Running Back: Eddie Lacy
The Seahawks didn't get a great return on the investment last season for Lacy. Granted, it was a low-risk signing all the way, but they had to be hoping that he could have returned to his form he possessed a few years ago in Green Bay. Instead, he was utterly ineffective in a marginal role, and didn't give the Seattle running game the boost that it so desperately needed.
Lacy may get cut in training camp, or at the beginning of the offseason.
Seattle probably won't be in the market to resign him, and it's better that he goes to a different situation. In his defense, the Seahawks offensive line is abysmal, so on a team that has competent blocking, he may fare better than he did last season. All in all however, Lacy's career longevity looks to be in jeopardy.
7 Wide Receiver: Jordan Matthews
Partly due to injury, partly due to scheme, and partly due to a regression in quality of play, Matthews faltered this season in Buffalo, after being traded by Philly just before the season started. It was clear that the Bills needed receiving help, but Matthews' presence didn't negate the need for more, as the team also went out and trade for Kelvin Benjamin mid-season.
How much is it worth for them to give him a new contract? Not much, really. Matthews could have value in a pass-heavy offense with an established roster, but he's clearly not going to elevate anyone to an elite level of play. We've seen enough to know that he's a good receiver at best, with little chance to be great.
6 Quarterback: Blaine Gabbert
In the Cardinals' ongoing effort to find a true starting quarterback for the future, they even gave a look to Gabbert, who everybody knows has been a bust since his former 1st-round selection in 2011. Turns out it wasn't just because he was on the Jaguars. He floundered last season in limited playing time as well.
Maybe he'll stick around as a camp body, but it's clear that Arizona won't be losing anything by cutting Gabbert loose.
He's a liability any time he's in the game, which isn't even suitable for a backup player at this position. He'll be a camp body for somebody, and then be a free agent before long.
5 Running Back: Orleans Darkwa
Darkwa was a fill-in for the Giants' backfield in a difficult situation, and while he performed decently under the circumstances, he's a far cry from a reliable player. For a team coming under a new coaching regime, it wouldn't be surprising to see Darkwa out the door this offseason. They're entering a rebuilding period.
This is especially true with the potential to draft running back Saquon Barkley in the first round of this year's draft. Such an acquisition would render Darkwa irrelevant, even discounting his small sample size of elite play. The future of New York's backfield likely resides elsewhere, and he'll be gone.
4 Wide Receiver: Cordarelle Patterson
The Raiders were looking for low-risk offensive weapons when they signed Patterson prior to last season. The former first-round pick didn't end up producing in any kind of notable way, so it's safe to say that his future on the receiving corps is in doubt, with new head coach Jon Gruden taking the reigns.
In reality, Patterson has been a disappointment throughout his entire career so far, and has only really been useful as a kick returner.
He'll probably stick around for training camp, but could be a cut before the season starts, due to his extremely limited ceiling, and rock bottom floor. The Raiders have multiple avenues they could take to get more receiving help, and supplant Patterson this year.
3 Quarterback: Teddy Bridgewater
Here's the other quarterback in serious jeopardy of losing their job on the Vikings' roster, Bridgewater was stricken with a terrible injury that essentially kept him out for two seasons, after being considered the franchise player of the future. Minnesota really didn't have a choice but to acquire more talent at the position, and now he's probably one of the odd-men-out under center.
He can and will retain an NFL job, but with the expiration of his contract this offseason, there's little reason for the Vikings to pay him when he hasn't played in recent memory.
With the quarterback market being the way it is, someone will take the chance though. Hopefully, Bridgewater will show he still has the ability to perform at an NFL level, after his injury.
2 Running Back: Jeremy Hill
With Joe Mixon now on board in the backfield, Hill's time with the Bengals will undoubtedly come to an end. While his productivity was solid for several years, the team considers Mixon the better overall talent, and the player that will lead the running back position for the future. There will be a market for Hill, though he may have already reached his ceiling.
There's simply no room to keep Hill, especially on a team that has so many positional holes to fill this offseason.
This is a solid pickup for any team in need of a running back, with guaranteed production, and no off-field issues at hand. For the position, that can turn out to be a free agent steal.
1 Wide Receiver: Brandon Marshall
In what was a terrible season for the wide receiver corps, and the Giants as a whole, Marshall suffered season-ending injury early on, after signing a multi-year deal with the team in the offseason. The combination with Odell Beckham was slated to be one of the best wideout duos in the league, but it never got a chance to materialize.
It's clear the Giants needed a shakeup with the coaching staff, and that's exactly what we saw. Pat Shurmur has no attachment to Marshall, and could see an agin veteran who struggles to stay healthy. Though he's still under contract, Marshall could be due for an early exit from New York.
It would likely occur in training camp, but there could be a major receiving talent on the market come sometime in August. Marshall is still a good talent, and since he doesn't fit in the Giants' rebuild plans, he'll be a candidate to hit the open market.