NFL News - Biggest AFC Roster Moves

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TwinSpires Staff

September 5th, 2018

On September 1, NFL teams cut down to their 53-man rosters. During the spring and summer, every AFC team made at least one surprising, smart, or head scratching roster move. Check out some of the biggest AFC roster moves below to see how your favorite NFL betting team was impacted. And click here for the most surprising NFC roster cuts!

AFC East

New England Patriots – The Patriots cut cornerback Cyrus Jones and running back Mike Gillislee. The smartest move that Bill Belichick made, though, was trading for San Francisco starting right tackle Trent Brown. Last season, more than a few 49’ers fans questioned if Brown should start over Joe Staley at left tackle. Belichick provided insurance that his best asset, quarterback Tom Brady, remains upright this season. By acquiring Brown, Belichick might have made one of the biggest AFC roster moves amongst Super Bowl contenders.

New York Jets – Trading Teddy Bridgewater to the Saints was more of a surprise than some might think. Starting a rookie quarterback doesn’t always work out well while Josh McCown is 39-years-old. The Jets could have started Bridgewater for the first couple of games. They’d have protected Darnold while building Bridgewater’s trade value. The Jets’ offensive line gave up 25 sacks last season, tied for 6thmost in the NFL. If Darnold goes down early, every Jets fan will question trading Bridgewater because there's no future in McCown.

Buffalo Bills – The Bills traded quarterback A.J. McCarron to the Oakland Raiders and instead decided to go with Nathan Peterman as their starter. McCarron or Peterman should suffer behind the Bills’ offense line. Buffalo made one of the most confusing AFC roster moves this offseason when they traded starting left tackle Cordy Glenn to Cincinnati during the NFL Draft. Dawkins filled in admirably for Glenn last season after Glenn’s injury, but the Bills were already thin along the offensive line. Now, Dawkins must carry the O-line, or defenses might kill Peterman.

Miami Dolphins – Coach Adam Gase decided to keep 3 quarterbacks on the roster:  starter Ryan Tannehill, Brock Osweiler, and David Fales. Gase must not feel comfortable with Tannehill or he wouldn’t keep both Fales and Osweiler. Neither’s a good choice should Tannehill suffer another injury. At this point, everyone who watches the NFL is decidedly betting against a Tannehill resurgence. He's not only proven to be average at best, he's also severely unlikable.

AFC North

Pittsburgh Steelers – Pittsburgh franchise tagged running back Le’Veon Bell. As of September 4, Bell has yet to report. Fans are angry because after tagging Bell, the Steelers could have traded their star running back. Pittsburgh must lean on running back James Conner in Week 1 and possibly beyond. For an organization that doesn’t often make mistakes, Pitt misplayed this situation.

Baltimore Ravens – During the offseason, Baltimore put together a decent group of wide receivers. They signed free agents Willie Snead, Michael Crabtree, and John Brown. All three should contribute while Crabtree is a legit WR1. Quarterback Joe Flacco has no excuses with this group of receivers. It's not like we've every allowed Flacco to have excuses before, but this is a solid group and assembling this corp could be one of the sneakier AFC roster moves.

Cincinnati Bengals – Trading for Bills starting left tackle Cordy Glenn during the draft could save Andy Dalton’s career. Dalton ran for his life on almost every play last season. Finally, the Bengals have a decent offensive line. If wide receiver John Ross can play to his potential, Dalton could provide a bounce back season for a franchise that desperately needs to make themselves relevant again.

Cleveland Browns – For once, Cleveland has consistency at quarterback. Now, the issue could be on the offensive line where they traded projected left tackle starter Shon Coleman to the San Francisco 49ers. After last season, left tackle mainstay Joe Thomas retired. Right now, Cleveland lists two tackles, rookie Desmond Harrison and 5-year pro Greg Robinson, on their roster. I’m not sure if Hue Jackson even knows who he’s starting at left tackle on Sunday.

 AFC South

Tennessee Titans – The Titans made plenty of AFC roster moves through free agency, and shored up the running back position instantly. The Titans’ current roster lists 3 running backs: Derrick Henry, Dion Lewis, and David Fluellen. Henry and Lewis are co-starters. That means Fluellen must serve as the backup to both. New offensive coordinator Matt LaFleur runs a system based on running back play. If Lewis or Henry goes down, the system will suffer.

Jacksonville Jaguars – Jacksonville made a splash by signing guard Andrew Norwell. Norwell spent years protecting Cam Newton. Now, he’ll open holes for one of the best young running back in the NFL, Leonard Fournette. Even still, what has to be the biggest of all AFC roster moves is the decision to not only keep Blake Bortles...but to extend him for three more years.

Houston Texans – The Texans made no moves to shore up their backup quarterback position. Only Brandon Weeden backs up starter Deshaun Watson. It’s surprising because after Watson went down last season, the Texans imploded. Nobody knows how well Watson plays this season, or if he can stay healthy. Not finding an insurance policy could come back and bite the Texans and cost head coach Bill O'Brien his job.

Indianapolis Colts – The Colts cut offensive tackle Austin Howard. Howard started 16 games for the Baltimore Ravens last season. Coach Frank Reich must feel the line’s in a good position to protect franchise quarterback Andrew Luck. If not, he wouldn’t have cut Howard.

AFC West

Oakland Raiders – The boldest and braves of all AFC roster moves comes in the form of the Raiders trading away their best player. Because Oakland overspent on free agents the past few offseasons, they couldn’t negotiate with Khalil Mack. They traded Mack, the best defensive player in the NFL, to the Chicago Bears for two first round picks. Oakland got a great deal because Mack had decided to never play for them again. If Jon Gruden doesn’t turn those two top picks into something, though, the deal becomes a bust. Only time will tell, and unfortunately history is not on Oakland's side with deals like this.

Denver Broncos – John Elway signed Case Keenum to play quarterback. Keenum should solidify the position for a while until Elway either finds his long-term solution in the draft, or backup Chad Kelly develops into the starter. Elway made another great move a couple of days ago. He cut Paxton Lynch and picked up Kevin Hogan. Hogan has much more starter potential, or even backup potential, than Lynch.

Kansas City Chiefs – Kansas City had to improve its defense. It did that by acquiring cornerback Kendall Fuller, one of the most underrated cover corners in the league, for quarterback Alex Smith. Even if Patrick Mahomes doesn’t play well this season, KC made a great move by acquiring Fuller.

Los Angeles Chargers – Los Angeles resigned tight-end Antonio Gates in what is undoubtedly one of the most surprising AFC roster moves. In the spring, the Bolts cut Gates. After Hunter Henry’s season-ending injury, the Chargers considered resigning Gate and waited until this past Sunday to put pen to paper. Opening the Gates again could be the move that hands the Chargers the NFC West Division.