5 surprise moves from NFL cutdown day – NBC Sports Boston

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Tuesday was another wild NFL cutdown day.

Over the past few days, clubs were forced to trim their rosters from 90 players down to 53 — with the proverbial buzzer going off at 4 p.m. ET on Tuesday.

Teams can still shuffle their rosters around, but they can only carry 53 active players at a time, which doesn’t count players on injured reserve (like the Bills’ Von Miller), the physically unable to perform list (like the Cardinals’ Kyler Murray) or the suspended list (like the Saints’ Alvin Kamara and Lions’ Jameson Williams).

Here are five of the biggest surprises from cutdown day:

Colt McCoy, Cardinals

With Kyler Murray set to miss the start of the season while rehabbing a torn ACL, the veteran McCoy was expected to start for Arizona. Instead, the Cardinals released the 36-year-old journeyman and acquired Joshua Dobbs from the Browns.

McCoy had 780 passing yards, one touchdown and three interceptions in four games (three starts) for the Cardinals last year. It’s unclear how long Murray will be out and Arizona will now start either Dobbs — who just arrived this week — or Clayton Tune — a rookie fifth-round pick — in his absence.

Bailey Zappe, Patriots

Coming off a productive rookie season where he adequately filled in for the injured Mac Jones, Zappe had an outside shot at stealing the starting job. That shot was quickly thrown away, as the former fourth-rounder struggled in Bill O’Brien’s offense throughout the offseason and preseason — leading to his release on Tuesday.

Zappe figures to get another chance elsewhere, potentially even in New England on the practice squad. He went 2-0 with five touchdowns and three interceptions in four games (two starts) last season, completing 70.7% of his passes.

Christian Kirksey, Texans

It’s not often you see a player go from team captain to unemployed, but that’s what happened to Kirksey. The veteran linebacker had 124 tackles and three sacks in 2022 while captaining Houston’s young defense. He started all 17 games after productive stints with the Browns and Packers to begin his career.

Kirksey, who turns 31 on Aug. 31, signed a two-year extension before last season. But after missing most of training camp with a strained hamstring and not getting reps in new head coach DeMeco Ryans’ system, the club decided to move on and save $5.2 million.

Kenyan Drake, Colts

When a player signs with a team in August, it’s clear that he wasn’t highly-valued across the league. But considering the saga with Colts starting running back Jonathan Taylor, it seemed like Drake had a real chance to contribute with his new squad. He didn’t even make it to cutdown day, though, getting released on Aug. 27.

Drake, 29, has bounced around the league since being drafted in the third round by the Dolphins in 2016. He rushed for a career-best 955 yards and 10 touchdowns in 2020. Even with Taylor set to miss the start of the season, Indy is comfortable without the veteran running back.

Deion Jones, Panthers

Jones, a former Pro Bowl linebacker who is still just 28, couldn’t crack the Panthers’ roster. He was in a competition with Shaq Thompson, Frankie Luvu and Kamu Grugier-Hill, and reports indicated that he played well throughout the preseason.

Jones peaked early in his career, finishing third in Defensive Rookie of the Year voting in 2016 and making the Pro Bowl in 2017 for the Falcons. He was injured and traded to the Browns last season, then remained unsigned until July 31.

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