Around the NFL cutdowns have begun in earnest and teams have until 4 p.m. ET Saturday to trim their rosters from 90 to 53 players.
That, however, is just the start of this weekend’s mayhem as teams will also be examining the cuts for potential roster upgrades. The New York Giants were very active on the waiver wire last year thanks to their high priority, and while they aren’t quite as high on the list, they still have high priority. The waiver priority currently follows the draft order, meaning the Giants sit at No. 6.
We’ll keep a list of some of the most interesting names and players to be cut over the course of the day.
Malik Jefferson (LB)
So far this is the most surprising cut of the day. Jefferson was selected by the Cincinnati Bengals high in the third round of the 2018 NFL Draft. He is an exceptional athlete with the ability to play on all three downs and the versatility to play outside or inside. He wasn’t productive for Cincy last year, but it is a mystery why the Bengals cut him, even if he was selected by the previous regime. As long as he is healthy and doesn’t have any major discipline issues coming, it seems obvious for the Giants to put in a waiver claim considering their linebacking corps.
Jonathan Bullard (DT)
Dave Gettleman loves himself some defensive tackles. He’s selected four in his two drafts as the Giants’ GM and claimed two on waivers this time last year. Bullard is a lean DT who wins with quickness and power when attacking a single gap. In the Giants’ scheme he would be a 3-technique who plays 5-technique when the team is in a 3-man front. Drafted by the Chicago Bears in the third round of the 2016 draft, Bullard hasn’t been productive, but he could be worth a look if the Giants aren’t happy with R.J. McIntosh or Chris Slayton.
Braxton Berrios (WR)
The Giants have been hit hard and often at the wide receiver position this summer. They expect to have Sterling Shepard, Cody Latimer, and Bennie Fowler healthy, but beyond that things are a mystery. Golden Tate is suspended, Brittain Golden injured his calf and T.J. Jones was carted off with an ankle injury in Thursday’s preseason game. Berrios is a small receiver at 5-foot 9 inches, 190 pounds, but he offers solid speed, great quickness, and upside in the slot and as a returner. He was reportedly uncoverable in joint practices between the New England Patriots and Detroit Lions.
Gary Johnson (iLB)
If the Giants want to improve the speed of their defense at the second level, Johnson could be an interesting target. Listed at 6-foot, 226 pounds and a running a 4.43 at the combine, he could be a potential depth piece at the Moneybacker position. Johnson doesn’t have the kind of lateral agility that makes Darius Leonard great, but his speed and tackling will earn him a look somewhere.
Captain Munnerlyn (DB)
Dave Gettleman has close links to the Buffalo Bills brass - he worked with both HC Sean McDermott and GM Brandon Beane when all were with the Carolina Panthers. The Giants have shown an interest in adding veteran players to help their rookies grow and Munnerlyn is certainly that. The 31-year old has played in 154 games over the course of his 10-year career, and he could provide valuable experience to the Giants’ locker room — not to mention depth at cornerback, slot corner, and potentially safety.
Kiko Alonso (LB)
It was previously reported that Alonso was cut, but the Dolphins were able to work a trade with the New Orleans Saints.
Jordan Matthews (WR)
The Giants have shown a preference for players with whom their coaching staff is already familiar. Pat Shurmur was a member of the Philadelphia Eagles staff when the team drafted Matthews in 2014 — Shurmur was offensive coordinator in 2014 and interim head coach at the end of 2015. Matthews was a productive “big slot” receiver his first three years with Philly and Shurmur would (conceivably) know how to get the most out of him.
Gunner Olszewski (WR/ST/CB) Edit - It appears as though Olszewski was not cut and has made the Patriots’ roster (for now)
When is the waiving of an undrafted free agent from a D-II school a surprise cut? When you can do as many things as Olszewski can for Bill Belichick, it’s a surprise. Gunner stood out in the fourth preseason game, making noise on offense, contributing to special teams, and even running across the field to make a tackle as a cornerback on defense. The Patriots likely want to sneak him through to the practice squad, but it could be fun to steal him after stealing a win in the last second of the game.
Noah Spence (EDGE)
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers made the surprise move to waive Spence with Jason Pierre-Paul still recovering from his off-season car accident. Spence is an explosive athlete and was a dangerous pass rusher in college, but was never consistently productive for the Buccs. At 6-foot 2, 250 pounds he might be a better fit in a multiple defense that uses stand-up rushers, such as what the Giants run.
Anthony Zettel (DL)
The Giants have only kept five defensive linemen. Zettel is known for his power and the former Browns and Lions defensive end could fit in the Giants’ “multiple” defense as an end in both four and three-man fronts, as well as potentially sliding inside in some subpackages. He only has one year of production, with 45 tackles and 6.5 sacks in 2017, but that would be second on the Giants’ roster behind Markus Golden.
Also, he once tackled a tree, and I want an excuse to post that.