Trade talk is already in the air. Cutdown day isn't too far off.
This is a time for change in the NFL, as teams prepare to reduce rosters from 90 players to 53 prior to the deadline at 4 p.m. ET on Tuesday, Aug. 29. Leading up to that moment, there will be a flurry of transactions across the league.
In fact, Thursday morning saw the Cardinals trade former top-10 pick Isaiah Simmons to the Giants for a 2024 seventh-rounder. Could Indianapolis star Jonathan Taylor be on the move next? That remains to be seen. The Colts granted the running back permission to seek a trade, and there appears to be interest in Taylor around the league, but the team's demand for significant compensation could put any potential move on a different timeline. It's hard to read the tea leaves there, so let's turn our focus elsewhere across the league.
Here's a list of veterans who might be on the move -- after either being released or traded -- in the coming days and weeks as the regular season fast approaches.
We’d be nuts to not list him here after Sam Darnold officially won the 49ers’ backup job. Lance’s future in San Francisco is very much up in the air right now, with head coach Kyle Shanahan essentially admitting as much on the local radio airwaves. NFL Network Insiders Ian Rapoport and Tom Pelissero reported that the Niners are exploring trade options for the third-year quarterback.
Who knows if the 49ers can or will deal Lance prior to the season, but they also fielded calls on him before the 2023 NFL Draft. They didn’t make a trade then, but that was back when Brock Purdy’s injury status was quite unclear. Now that Purdy is healthy and Darnold has outplayed Lance, it’s hard to justify keeping a $9 million QB3 on the roster, even if that third spot could carry more weight this season.
Lance’s best shot might be to go to a team where he can integrate himself behind the scenes and perhaps vie for a starting role in 2024. If the 23-year-old were traded right now, the Niners would take a dead-money hit of more than $11 million (split between 2023 and '24, per Over The Cap), and they obviously wouldn’t come close to recouping what they gave up to select him third overall in the 2021 NFL Draft. But they could shed his contract and move on from an experiment that -- to this point, anyway -- has been a giant flop.
EDITOR'S UPDATE: The 49ers are trading Trey Lance to the Dallas Cowboys in exchange for a 2024 fourth-round pick, NFL Network Insiders Ian Rapoport and Tom Pelissero reported Friday.
The Cowboys are pretty loaded along their defensive front, and there might not be a clear-cut role for Gallimore, the 2020 third-rounder who started 13 games over his first two seasons but saw his role reduced last year.
The top three inside figure to be Osa Odighizuwa, first-round rookie Mazi Smith and Johnathan Hankins, and Dallas might favor keeping Chauncey Golston, who is just a little more versatile than Gallimore. The Cowboys also have fourth-rounder Viliami Fehoko Jr. (who has impressed) and Quinton Bohanna (who can play nose tackle) at their disposal.
Perhaps there’s a team willing to flip a later pick for Gallimore, who's had some flashes in his career but has yet to put it all together.
After bouncing from roster to roster over his first few years in the league, Guy became an underrated cog up front for the Patriots. But at age 33, coming off a shoulder injury last season, Guy's value appears to be on the downtick. He held out of minicamps this summer, reportedly upset with his salary, but it doesn't appear Guy will get paid again in New England.
In fact, with the emergence of Daniel Ekuale and second-round pick Keion White, Guy might be on the move this August. We speculated a few weeks ago that Guy could lose his starting job, with Christian Barmore and Davon Godchaux ahead of him, and New England's solid depth could allow the Patriots to flip him to a needy team for a lower pick.
There's a case to keep Holmes around, considering how young the Giants are at corner. New York could end up relying on two rookies to start, with Adoree' Jackson potential manning an unfamiliar spot in the slot.
However, there are cases against keeping Holmes, too. He's failed to secure the nickel job at this point and is set to count for $2.9 million against the salary cap. The Giants appear confident in 2023 draft picks Deonte Banks and Tre Hawkins III, and Aaron Robinson could return from PUP to help bolster the unit. They also have 2022 third-rounder Cor'Dale Flott in the mix.
Cutting or trading Holmes could wipe out more than $2.7 million from the 2023 cap, and defensive back remains a premium position, so the Giants might be able to flip Holmes and get something in return if he's not in their plans this season.
The Lions have a number of options on the edges, both young (Aidan Hutchinson and James Houston combined for 17.5 sacks in Year 1) and old (SEE: veterans Charles Harris and the other Okwara brother, Romeo), so Julian might be the odd man out.
The 2020 third-round has never quite met expectations, partially due to a spate of injuries over his first three pro campaigns, but a three-sack game in the preseason opener against the Giants certainly didn't hurt his trade value.
It has been tough sledding so far in the NFL for Mayfield, who was a third-round pick in 2021. He actually started 16 games at guard as a rookie, and though he struggled mightily at times, the Falcons appeared to have plans for him. But Mayfield lost last season, spending all of 2022 on injured reserve with a back issue.
Even after moving Mayfield back to his college position of tackle, he's struggled this summer and recently was seen working with the third-team offense. I thought about listing Mayfield as a possible cut candidate, but with as many OL-needy teams as there are out there, someone might be one willing to send something to Atlanta in return for a 23-year-old blocker with some upside, flexibility and starting experience.
Not many teams will be willing to trade much in the way of real assets for a soon-to-be 31-year-old defensive back. But the fact that Rowe has a cap number of less than $1.1 million and will be a free agent next spring could make it possible.
Rowe could make the opening roster in Carolina, but he's no lock. After a solid preseason opener, he struggled the next time out, roasted deep by the Giants rookie Jalin Hyatt for a touchdown. That one play won't seal his fate, of course, even though the Panthers look to be deep at safety, Rowe's primary spot.
But if there's another team out there willing to give up something, Carolina would have to engage. Perhaps Minnesota is an option. Rowe played for Vikings defensive coordinator Brian Flores in New England and was then courted in free agency by Flores to join the Dolphins back in 2019. If the Vikes are seeking some veteran help with knowledge of Flores' terminology, Rowe fits the bill.
Who says the backup quarterback is the most popular man in town? That doesn't appear to be the case in Philadelphia, where Jalen Hurts is adored but his prospective backup has become the focus of consternation this preseason.
Mariota initially appeared to be a smart addition as Hurts' backup this offseason, despite his controversial departure from Atlanta. But after two lackluster preseason outings and a series of rough camp reports, Mariota's job feels at risk. Part of that has to do with the work of impressive sixth-round rookie Tanner McKee, who is stating his case of the QB2 job.
The Eagles signed Mariota to a $5 million contract, although they'd incur a 2023 salary-cap hit of about $1.9 million if they cut him, according to Over The Cap. Not exactly small potatoes, but getting the backup-QB spot right is what matters most in a season where the Eagles believe they can vie for a Super Bowl title. After all, they weathered Hurts' two-game absence last season and nearly won it all. If the coaches aren't confident in Mariota, this should not be a financially motivated decision; they should trust their instincts and just cut him.
It's been clear for a few weeks now that the Bills don't appear too comfy with their QB options behind Josh Allen. Barkley appeared to have an edge when he outplayed Kyle Allen in the preseason opener vs. the Colts a few weeks ago. But Barkley promptly coughed that up with a four-turnover (three INTs and a fumble) performance in a mere 20 snaps last week against the Steelers.
Complicating matters: Barkley suffered an elbow injury on the lost fumble. Kyle Allen rebounded against Pittsburgh, but that came against deep reserves. Bills offensive coordinator Ken Dorsey has said enough nice things about both, but neither should feel all that assured of making the opening roster.
I could see Buffalo moving on from both, but that would be contingent on another veteran quarterback becoming available -- perhaps someone they've worked with before (last year's backup, Case Keenum, by chance?). After all, Josh Allen does need a backup, sources say.
Once Dalvin Cook arrived in New York, the numbers game started. Breece Hall is now off of the PUP list, teaming up with Cook as a fine 1-2 punch. Former fourth-rounder Michael Carter entered camp needing to prove himself, but getting the second preseason game off felt like a vote of confidence for him making the roster. Israel Abanikanda, a 2023 fifth-rounder, is likely to make it.
All of that points to an uphill battle for Knight, who actually might have been the Jets' best back for a minute last season. In the most recent preseason game, "Bam" had a solid 53 all-purpose yards on 11 touches ... but also had a fumble and dropped a pass.
It's just hard to see him making the opening 53 right now, barring some unforeseen change of scenario.
EDITOR'S UPDATE: NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported Monday that the Jets are releasing Knight.
Once dubbed "the fastest man in college football," Schwartz has been a slow-developing pro through two NFL seasons, putting him squarely on the Browns' roster bubble.
The former third-round pick doesn't turn 23 until Week 1, and some might argue that it's too soon to give up on him. But Schwartz just hasn't been able to stack impressive performances in camp or the preseason -- and now he's dealing with a hamstring injury.
Cleveland has a numbers crunch at wide receiver, with journeyman Austin Watkins Jr. clearly outperforming Schwartz recently, and the Browns could be more inclined to keep a more recent third-rounder in David Bell.
Cleveland has started a handful of games for the Ravens, but the light has never fully remained on for the 2021 third-round pick, who turns 25 this week. During camp, he was tried out at right tackle, giving Cleveland the opportunity to make the roster as a versatile backup. But he also has been seen working with the second- and third-team offenses quite a bit and could be squeezed out of a spot.
The Ravens are pretty loath to cut recent draft picks, especially third-rounders, so they could attempt to trade Cleveland. GM Eric DeCosta traded OG Ben Bredeson to the Giants around cutdown time two years ago, and DeCosta tried to deal Tyre Phillips before the Ravens ended up releasing him last year. It's not clear which way it will go, but Cleveland's future in Baltimore feels limited.
Here's another 2021 third-round interior O-lineman with starting experience who could be on borrowed time with his AFC North team. The Steelers appear to be running out of options with Green, who started 15 games at center as a rookie but spent the entire 2022 campaign as a game-day inactive.
The Steelers experimented with Green as a fullback this preseason, but that appears to have gone nowhere. In last Saturday's game against the Bills, Green replaced Mason Cole at center and promptly fired one shotgun snap over Mason Rudolph's head. When asked about Green's performance in the game, head coach Mike Tomlin got right to the point: "Not good enough. Routine things routinely is what we expect."
As with Cleveland, a Green trade is possible, too. But there just doesn't appear to be a future for him in Steeltown.
A former first-round pick, Burns arrived in Seattle before last season but barely saw the field as he dealt with injuries and was supplanted by some of the Seahawks' young, impressive DBs for playing time. He only returned to Seattle this offseason following the draft, after it was revealed Riq Woolen had undergone offseason surgery. So Burns most definitely was viewed as a depth piece and possibly expendable heading into training camp.
With first-round pick Devon Witherspoon back on the field after dealing with a hamstring issue, plus all the other CB depth the Seahawks feature, there just doesn't seem to be much chance for Burns to crack the rotation.
Want to follow these storylines and more? NFL+ gives you the freedom to watch live out-of-market preseason games, daily coverage on NFL Network, the best NFL programming on-demand and much more! Plus, NFL RedZone is now part of NFL+ Premium! Learn more about NFL+.