New York Giants head coach Brian Daboll said recently that “cut down day sucks.”
“It really does because you develop relationships with players, you see how hard they work and to bring a player up to your office and let them know that we’re going in a different direction or they didn’t make the team, you get a lot of different reactions and I completely understand it,” Daboll said. “They’ve laid everything the have on the line and it’s a sports business but it’s a people business. If you have relationships with people, that’s not easy. It’s not easy for me.”
I’m going to agree with Daboll, and I don’t have to sit in his office over the next few days and tell players they have been cut — or be one of those players being told they are losing their livelihood.
This one sucks because it is one of the most difficult initial 53-man projections I have ever undertaken. It is brutally difficult to figure out the last few spots on the roster.
Here is my best educated guess. I may update this after we speak to Daboll Sunday afternoon, especially if he offers any clarity on Wan’Dale Robinson’s status or the severity of any of the injuries suffered Saturday night. As of now, I’m just guessing as to how those will impact the construction of the roster.
In: Daniel Jones, Tyrod Taylor
Practice Squad: Tommy DeVito
Really nothing to see here. Devito has done enough to earn a practice squad spot.
Running backs (4)
In: Saquon Barkley, Matt Breida, Eric Gray, Jashaun Corbin
Practice squad: Gary Brightwell
Out: James Robinson
Corbin has performed well this summer. At the same time, Brightwell has missed considerable practice time with a leg injury.
If the Giants look at this spot from a pure special teams perspective, Brightwell could be the choice. That is his forte. Robinson had a good game against the New York Jets on Saturday, but had shown little before that.
Tight ends (3)
In: Darren Waller, Daniel Bellinger, Lawrence Cager
Practice squad: Ryan Jones
IR: Tommy Sweeney
Out: Chris Myarick
Sweeney’s recent ‘medical event’ makes me think the Giants will put him on injured reserve. Myarick’s hand injury might land him on IR.
Wide receiver (6)
In: Isaiah Hodgins, Darius Slayton, Parris Campbell, Jalin Hyatt, Sterling Shepard, Collin Johnson
PUP (does not count against 53): Wan’Dale Robinson
Practice squad: Cole Beasley, Kalil Pimpleton, David Sills
Out: Bryce Ford-Wheaton, Jaydon Mickens, Jamison Crowder
Joe Schoen said in early August that Robinson, recovering from a torn ACL suffered in Week 11 last season, could “probably [be] returning to practice here in a week or so.” Well, here we are in late August at the end of the preseason and that has not happened. I find it difficult to believe Robinson will be ready to contribute in two weeks against the Dallas Cowboys, so I think the Giants leave him on the PUP list to start the season.
That means Robinson would miss at least the first four games. It also complicates figuring out the season-opening depth chart at wide receiver.
I had penciled Ford-Wheaton in for a spot on the 53-man roster because of his special teams potential, but his knee injury wrecked that idea. Not sure how serious that injury is, but I suspect it knocks him out of consideration for the roster. I am giving the spot to Johnson. You could make an argument for Crowder, Beasley or Sills.
Why not keep both Shepard and Beasley, and have seven receivers?
Economics. Both players are vested veterans, meaning if they are on the roster at 4 p.m. on Tuesday, their salaries are guaranteed for the season. I can’t see the Giants wanting to do that with both players.
Shepard has had an injury-littered career and is coming off an Achilles tear in 2021 and an ACL tear in 2022. Beasley is 34, and came out of retirement to play four games for the Buffalo Bills last season. He can still play, but has missed time this summer with a pair of leg injuries. Could he land on the practice squad, if he is willing to accept that, or perhaps get re-signed after Week 1 when his salary would not be fully guaranteed?
The wildcard is Robinson. If the Giants bring him off PUP before Tuesday, perhaps they keep seven wide receivers.
Offensive line (9)
In: Andrew Thomas, Ben Bredeson, John Michael Schmitz, Mark Glowinski, Evan Neal, Josh Ezeudu, Tyre Phillips, Matt Peart, Marcus McKethan
Practice squad: Shane Lemieux, Julie’n Davenport, Jack Anderson
Out: Sean Harlow, Korey Cunningham, Wyatt Davis
I keep going back-and-forth on whether Shane Lemieux or Jack Anderson should replace Marcus McKethan for the ninth offensive line spot.
I think McKethan, a 2022 fifth-round pick, could be lost to another NFL team if the Giants expose him to waivers. Tyre Phillips has value at tackle and guard. As for Peart, I have him making the initial roster. After his awful performance on Saturday, though, he might only be there until the Giants can find someone else on the waiver wire.
Defensive line (6)
In: Dexter Lawrence, Leonard Williams, Rakeem Nunez-Roches, A’Shawn Robinson, Jordon Riley, Ryder Anderson
Practice squad: D.J. Davidson
Out: Kobe Smith, Brandin Bryant, Kevin Atkins, Donovan Jeter
More roster gymnastics. Anderson has missed most of training camp with a triceps injury. The Giants have not updated his status, but the injury is not believed to be season-ending. At this point, though, it is hard to believe Anderson would be ready for the start of the season.
The likely scenario is that the Giants place him on short-term IR, enabling them to bring him back after a minimum of four games. To do that, they first have to place him on the 53-man roster for 24 hours.
In: Kayvon Thibodeaux, Azeez Ojulari, Jihad Ward, Tomon Fox
Practice squad: Habakkuk Baldonado,
Out: Oshane Ximines, Tashawn Bower
I intended to keep five edge defenders, but the trade for Isaiah Simmons changed my thinking. I have Simmons listed with the off-ball linebackers, but he can fill roles on the edge and sometimes in the slot.
Besides, as I have already stated I have Ryder Anderson on the roster only so that he can be shuffled to short-term IR. Perhaps a player like Ximines could be brought back to the 53-man roster when that happens. Or, the Giants could look to the waiver wire if they want to add here. The roster will always be fluid, and 24 hours after the initial 53 is established it will change. This is one position where that could happen.
Inside linebacker (5)
In: Bobby Okereke, Micah McFadden, Isaiah Simmons, Darrian Beavers, Carter Coughlin
Practice squad: Dyontae Johnson
Out: Cam Brown, Ray Wilborn
I have Brown, a special teams ace who has never become a useful defensive player, as an odd man out. He hasn’t helped himself by missing considerable time with an injury. I did not add him to the practice squad because I don’t think he gets through waivers. As much as Joe Judge loves Brown, I could easily see him landing with the New England Patriots if the Giants expose him to waivers.
In: Adoree’ Jackson, Deonte Banks, Tre Hawkins III, Cor’Dale Flott, Amani Oruwariye, Darnay Holmes
Practice squad: Zyon Gilbert
PUP (does not count against 53): Aaron Robinson
Out: Gemon Green, Darren Evans
Holmes, probably with a pay cut from his $2.743 million base salary, sticks only because of the injury Gilbert suffered Saturday and the fact that Aaron Robinson is still on PUP. This is really a last-minute change for me. The Giants need a second slot cornerback, and they have shown they don’t want Flott to be it.
Oruwariye is in, for now, but that is really a placeholder selection. The Giants recently worked out veteran cornerback William Jackson III. I think this is a spot the Giants will look to supplement from the outside, either by signing Jackson or bringing in a veteran who becomes available in the next few days.
In: Xavier McKinney, Jason Pinnock, Dane Belton, Nick McCloud, Alex Cook
Out: Bobby McCain, Gervarrius Owens
McCain is out. He doesn’t help on special teams, and that is problematic. Owens, one of the Giants’ two seventh-round picks would have been in, but the hamstring injury he suffered Saturday knocks him out. Cook, an undrafted free agent, has been impressive. I initially had him landing on the practice squad, but the Owens injury opens a spot.
Special teams (3)
Placekicker: Graham Gano
Punter: Jamie Gillan
Long-snapper: Casey Kreiter
Out: Cameron Lyons
Nothing to see here. I do wonder if the Giants might stash Lyons on the practice squad.