The Final Cut Down: A Tribute To Those Who Didn't Make It by Vincent Zahler
One of the most closely monitored days of the offseason. Cut down day. The day when over 800 athletes are given pink slips and are forced to search elsewhere and/or hope for injuries to regain employment. They have spent all offseason working to avoid being on the outs on this one day. Minicamps, OTAs, combines, conditioning, training camp and preseason in hopes of making the squad they spent the last several months sacrificing their bodies for. For many, it just wasn't enough. Some of those getting the ax today are veterans who are reaching the end of their careers. Others have contracts that outweigh their values while most simply didn't make the cut due to getting beat out by someone else. Either way, its hard to argue that those who fortunately made cut didn't earn it. That being said, a handful of those cuts made by the Giants front office were fairly notable and deserve to have one last look before they have their lockers cleaned out. ·Will Tye: Tight End- This athletic guy who came out of Stoney Brook as an UDFA and ended up on the PFWA All-Rookie team, never progressed as a blocker and seemed to regress as route runner and receiver. Essentially going the route of the man he overtook for the starting TE gig Larry Donnell. while he sill remained productive much ado to the high volume of targets going in his direction as Eli Manning has always seeked out the tight end throughout his career. Of course Eli hasn't had much help in the tight end department lately and so Tye was able to produce by default. Add an ultra athletic number 1 draft pick who already appears to be a better blocker, a complete tight end in free agency and the emergence of a massive but athletic prospect in preseason in the form of Matt LaCosse, and Tye goes from starter to unemployed. Unironically, Larry Donnell was also cut today. ·Mike Nugent: Kicker- One cant blame Nugent for ending up on the wrong side of what might as well have been a coin toss decision. Despite Nugent being a seasoned veteran albeit some struggles recently, he still showed a strong leg and great accuracy as demonstrated by splitting the uprights on two 50+ yard kicks to highlight a preseason in which he did everything asked of him and then some but in the end, it didn't matter due to a younger guy with a stronger leg who kicked just as well as Nugent did. Nugent should have little issue finding a kicking gig soon. · Josh Johnson: Quarterback- Geno Smith may be a more recognizable name than Josh Johnson but he certainly isn't that much more of a player. The battle for back up quarterback was too close to call throughout the preseason. Geno appeared to jump out to an early lead but in the end was erratic as always. Often moving the offense initially only to come undone by ill advised throws and movements thus turning into a turnover machine. While Johnson was probably the more consistent quarterback in the month of August, he never really jumped off the screen. Geno, for what its worth, had a handful of eye opening plays and for the most part had a prettier stat line. Possibly another borderline coin flip decision by the front office. ·Devin Taylor: Defensive End- Despite having a respectable 11.5 sacks over the last two years in Detroit, Taylor failed to beat out the likes of coach's pet Avery Moss and average rotational end Kerry Wynn. Never jumping off the screen in training camp or preseason, his starting history may only net him a rotational role at best elsewhere. ·Travis Rudolph: Wide Receiver- What is Jerry Reese and the Giants front office thinking? Perhaps there is something they know and we don't but Rudolph was a star this past preseason. Making one highlight reel play after another as well as showing an ability to return kicks. From what was on display in preseason, Roger Lewis was busy dropping balls while Rudolph was busy making catches. Good size, hands, speed, and overall athletic ability its more than enough to make one question how Roger Lewis made the cut over Travis Rudolph. ·Donte Deayon: Cornerback- Again, much like Rudolph, a rather surprising cut. Deayon was the Travis Rudolph of the defense during the preseason. Regularly making interceptions and defending passes. While he had some issues in coverage as we saw when he was beat for a score by New England camp body in the preseason finale, Deayon still seemed to play well enough to earn a roster spot. Many, including fellow CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie fully expected the young Deayon to make the final roster. However, it's hard to argue against the move considering that the Giants front office pulled trade with the Steelers for Ross Cockrell. While not a well known name, he was arguably the best cornerback in Pittsburgh in 2016 and a proven starter which is more than what we can say for Donte Deayon. So while many understandably surprised by his release, it still turned out to be an upgrade at the position. The Giants secondary, on paper, is the best it's looked in at least 20 years. ·Mark Herzlich: Linebacker- Technically he wasn't cut, but placed on IR with a stinger. Either way, Herzlich, while being terrific story on perseverance simply has been a lackluster player for much of his career. Joining the team as an UDFA after overcoming bone marrow cancer which derailed a college career that intially had a Luke Keuchly trajectory. Never truly able to return to form, Herzlich relied on instincts and scheme to stay on the roster. Never short on effort or eye black, Mark Herzlich may not have been a starting caliber middle linebacker but he was good locker room presence and force on special teams. A rather unfortunate end for a player who even with obvious physical limitations, always left his heart on the field.