2023 NFL cutdown deadline Debrief: Backup QBs have fates decided; kickers on the move

By Gregg Rosenthal, Around The NFL Podcast Co-Host

There is so much to keep track of as all 32 teams cut their rosters down to 53 players by Tuesday’s deadline that it’s hard to know where to start. Here’s my best shot at picking the stories — and situations — that matter most after a dizzying day of transactions:

1) The Jonathan Taylor saga has no end in sight. Placed on the physically unable to perform list with an ankle injury, Taylor didn’t get traded by the Colts and apparently isn’t close to being healthy. He will miss the first four games of the season, at a minimum.

2) One of the most surprising cuts of the day came in New England, where the team waived presumptive backup quarterback Bailey Zappe. The 2022 fourth-rounder played well enough as a rookie to engender support over Mac Jones from the most basic of Patriots fans. Though Zappe looked lost in Bill O’Brien’s offense this preseason, he is a strong candidate to be claimed off waivers. New England also cut receiver/quarterback Malik Cunningham, who had a few fun moments in the preseason opener.

3) The Cardinals started their cuts early by letting quarterback Colt McCoy know on Monday he won’t make the team despite having over $2 million guaranteed due him this season. That leaves fifth-round rookie Clayton Tune or veteran Josh Dobbs — acquired from Cleveland over the weekend for a late-round pick swap — to start the opener. I wrote before the preseason started that Tune had a chance to be the Week 1 starter, and that’s my guess now. Kyler Murray is out for at least the first four weeks of the season, continuing to make his way back from last December’s ACL tear on the PUP list. It wouldn’t surprise me if Murray misses the whole season, should the Cardinals fall quickly out of the playoff race.

4) Lost in the shuffle of the Dobbs trade: Browns fifth-round pick Dorian Thompson-Robinson won the team’s backup quarterback job after an impressive preseason. The Browns have only two quarterbacks as of now, though head coach Kevin Stefanski did say Cleveland is planning to add a third.

5) Jake Browning claimed the Bengals backup quarterback job over Trevor Siemian. The Bengals should want to do better when the rest of the roster is this good, but on Tuesday, coach Zac Taylor said he feels good about BrowningJoe Burrow is expected to be ready for Week 1, barring any setbacks with his calf injury.

6) Speaking of backup-quarterback depth charts for Super Bowl contenders, the Bills placed Matt Barkley on injured reserve. That makes Kyle Allen the backup to Josh Allen.

7) Blaine Gabbert won the Chiefs’ backup quarterback job over Shane Buechele. Hopefully that’s the last we hear about non-Patrick Mahomes Chiefs quarterbacks for the rest of the season.

8) The Bears cut Nathan Peterman just a few days after cutting veteran PJ Walker. It wouldn’t be a surprise if the Bears seek out another veteran quarterback, because undrafted rookie Tyson Bagent is currently the backup behind Justin Fields.

9) Most teams seemingly decided to keep two quarterbacks for now, despite the new NFL rule that a third quarterback who does not count against the active game day roster can be used if necessary.

10) The Saints let go of veteran cornerback Bradley Roby in a surprise move. New Orleans has experimented with trying second-year pro Alontae Taylor in the slot, with Marshon Lattimore and Paulson Adebo starting on the outside.

11) Bills pass rusher Von Miller is out at least the first four games of the season after being placed on the PUP list. With the 34-year-old Miller coming off a torn ACL, it was always a big long shot for him to be ready for the start of the season.

12) While it’s not a surprise, it’s still amazing to see Damar Hamlin on the Bills’ initial 53-man roster, as originally reported by NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero. Hamlin is probably fourth on the Bills’ safety depth chart, possibly the best safety group in the entire NFL.

13) The wheel of kickers is spinning wildly. Broncos coach Sean Payton traded for old friend Wil Lutz from the Saints, opening up the gig for Blake Grupe in New Orleans. That leaves former Cowboys kicker Brett Maher, who was with the Broncos, without a job. The Patriots sent old standby Nick Folk to the Titans for a 2025 seventh-round pick. Rookie fourth-rounder Chad Ryland will be New England’s kicker.

14) The Browns gave kicker Cade York, a highly touted fourth-round pick in 2022, the boot after a rough preseason, trading for the Chargers’ Dustin Hopkins to take his place. Los Angeles will roll with Cameron Dicker once again.

15) The Broncos traded tight end Albert Okwuegbunam to the Eagles for a late-round pick swap in 2025. An annual fantasy hype candidate during previous Broncos regimes, Albert O. believers get a second life in Philly!

16) I like player-for-player trades. I love player-for-player challenge trades at the same position. The Dolphins sent cornerback Noah Igbinoghene, a former first-rounder, to the Cowboys for cornerback Kelvin Joseph, a former second-rounder, in a clear challenge trade. The team that gets better production from the trade is just better at coaching cornerbacks.

17) The Bengals put tackle La’el Collins on the PUP list to start the season. I view this as a positive, because cutting Collins was another option. Consider Collins insurance against the calamities that have befallen the Bengals’ offensive line the last two seasons.

18) The Giants cut veteran slot receivers Jamison Crowder and Cole Beasley. That’s a sign that New York’s receiver group stayed mostly healthy in camp, and the team didn’t need its backup plans.

19) The Texans acquired guard Kendrick Green from the Steelers, a clear indication that this preseason hasn’t gone as planned up front for a banged-up Texans offensive line.

20) Running back Malik Davis didn’t make the initial Cowboys roster. Rookie Deuce Vaughn and Rico Dowdle are the backups to Tony Pollard.

21) Jimmy Graham made the Saints’ roster! The third preseason game is usually for undrafted rookies, but Graham’s effort on Sunday night against the Texans likely clinched the 36-year-old’s spot. Graham and Michael Thomas are really about to be catching passes for a Saints team not coached by Sean Payton in the year 2023.

22) We are less than 10 days to the Kickoff Game, and Chiefs defensive tackle Chris Jones‘ holdout continues. Kansas City placed Jones on the reserve/did not report list. Nick Bosa is on the same list with the 49ers. I’m more optimistic about Bosa getting a deal done before Week 1, but that’s mostly based on vibes.

The National Football League (NFL) is a professional American football league consisting of 32 teams, divided equally between the National Football Conference (NFC) and the American Football Conference (AFC). The NFL is one of the four major