NFL teams made their final roster cuts Saturday, trimming down to the 53-player limit. Sixteen former Arizona Wildcats were on rosters as training camp began, where NFL teams were allowed up to 90 players.
While a number were guaranteed to make the cut, some were on the fence.
Here’s an update on how camp went for these players, and next steps in how their NFL journey might shake out:
Who made the cut
Rob Gronkowski — the top Wildcat in the NFL is coming off back surgery and played in the last two preseason games for the Patriots. While there is no doubt about his roster spot and place in the starting lineup, Gronk is going to have to battle the injury-prone whispers he’ll likely hear the rest of his career. While he didn’t put up any stellar numbers in his preseason appearances, all signs point to Gronk being healthy and ready to roll this season.
Marquis Flowers — the former Bengals linebacker and special teams player finds himself on a new team for the first time in his professional career after being drafted by Cincinnati in 2014. Traded to the Patriots for a seventh-round pick, Flowers is on the final year of his rookie contract with an opportunity to prove his worth. He was no guarantee to make the 53-man cuts, but now finds himself ready to make an impact on special teams for the defending champions and one of the preseason favorites to win the Super Bowl.
Robert Golden — signed as an undrafted free agent in 2012, Golden is no stranger to fighting for a roster spot. Despite a shaky preseason, Golden made the cut, and is now jockeying for a primary backup spot with fellow undrafted free agent Jordan Dangerfield, who had solid preseason outings, intercepting two passes in the final preseason game. Golden will have to continue to prove his worth if he hopes to get playing time while the Steelers are still looking for strong safety backups.
Will Parks — the hard-hitting safety emerged last year as a solid player for the Broncos. He suffered a hip injury in his third preseason game, but has already started practicing again in preparation for his season opener. Entering his second year, Denver seems to be placing more trust in him as he could be named starting safety since the team released former Pro Bowl safety T.J. Ward.
Nick Foles — the former Arizona quarterback has had an unusual preseason. Seen as the backup to starter Carson Wentz, Foles did not play a single snap in preseason play. Foles is currently suffering from an injury usually reserved for baseball players: a strained flexor tendon. While he denied needing surgery, it has led to arm soreness that kept him out of the majority of training camp and all four preseason games. He is considered day-to-day at the moment and will hopefully get his rest as he is reserved for backup.
Brooks Reed — entering his seventh season and off of a Super Bowl appearance with the Atlanta Falcons, Reed has solidified himself as veteran of the NFL. That said, Atlanta drafted Takkarist McKinley, a first round defensive end from UCLA hot on the heels of Reed’s starting spot after having a great preseason. Reed is getting paid over $4M this year and needs to up his production in order to maintain his spot on the team (25 total tackles and two sacks in 2016 in 15 games played).
Nick Folk — after spending the last seven seasons with the Jets, Folk finds himself on a new team with the Buccaneers. He made the 53-man roster after battling Roberto Aguayo, a second round pick in the 2016 draft who struggled with accuracy in the NFL.
Earl Mitchell — after three seasons with the Dolphins, Mitchell signed a four-year, $16M contract with the 49ers. After a strong preseason, Earl will start at NT and is set to make an impact with the Niners.
Who didn’t make the cut
Ka’Deem Carey — it isn’t surprising that Carey didn’t officially make the 53-man roster after he sustained a wrist injury that required surgery in late August. Since he will miss 4-6 weeks of regular season play, he was delegated to the injured reserve.
Unfortunately, Carey has a lot of healthy competition in front of him in Chicago now with Pro Bowler Jordan Howard and rookie Tarik Cohen in front of him. Carey may find himself on a new team as Chicago may opt to do injury resettlement. This would end his term with the Bears, but open up an opportunity to join a new team as a RB backup or a as a special teams option.
Reggie Gilbert — after playing defensive end on the Wildcats, Gilbert played his rookie season in the NFL on the Packers’ practice squad. He played well throughout training camp and his preseason games in a more hybrid role (between LB and DE). He was ultimately cut after the Packers added veteran Ahmad Brooks to fill the role. Gilbert is seen as a surprise cut, but he did make the 10-player practice squad again, allowing him to further develop and learn the system.
Trey Griffey — after originally signing as an undrafted free agent with the Colts, he got injured in training camp and was waived on injury designation after reaching a settlement. After being waived with the Dolphins now, he still has a chance to make the practice squad as they have only filled eight of the maximum ten spots already.
Cayleb Jones — Jones was cut last year by the Eagles in training camp and did not find work elsewhere, but was given the opportunity with the Vikings this summer. Jones ultimately made the most of his chances, making headlines in his final preseason game that many considered his “do or die” audition to make the team. The receiver caught nine passes for 128 yards and turned what many others would consider a meaningless game into a hope for an NFL future.
While he did not make the 53-man roster, he was able to showcase enough to make the practice squad this year.
Freddie Tagaloa — at 6-8 and 360 pounds, the former UA offensive lineman has NFL size. He received a mini-camp tryout after this year’s draft and while he didn’t make the team, he still has a chance to make the practice squad as a project player. The Vikings have filled seven of their 10-player max.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Paul Magloire Jr. — After suffering a groin injury, Magloire underwent surgery that placed him on the injured reserve of the Buccaneers, where he stayed for most of training camp and preseason. He was waived from the injured reserve earlier in the week and will spend the next seven to eight months rehabbing.
Trevin Wade — after spending the last two years with the New York Giants, Wade signed as an unrestricted free agent with the Ravens this offseason. He was cut this weekend after competing with four others for the backup CB spots and has yet to be signed elsewhere.
Scooby Wright III — perhaps the most surprising Wildcat cut on Saturday was former linebacker Scooby Wright III. He had plenty of opportunities, starting three preseason games, including the fourth in which he was a captain. After spending the last season with the Cardinals on special teams and putting up solid numbers in his preseason outings, he was ultimately cut based on the belief he struggled with pass coverage.
He did, however, find himself back with the Cardinals on the practice squad where he has a chance to further learn the system and get called up in the future.