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Wednesday, August 21, 2019

10 players whose jobs are in jeopardy following NFL Draft

Shortly after the Cleveland Browns selected Miami tight end David Njoku in the first-round of the 2017 NFL Draft, veteran Gary Barnidge tweeted at the newcomer, welcoming him to the family. Barnidge told Njoku to get ready for work. A few short hours later, Barnidge was back on Twitter, but this time he was saying farewell to the Browns and their fans, because the selection of Njoku meant his release.

The NFL is a business — a brutal business — and Barnidge experienced that firsthand. There was a new tight end in town, and before they even got onto the field, that rookie had taken his job.

Barnidge won’t be the only player to find himself without a job following the NFL Draft. In fact, quite a few veterans around the league probably will. That’s just the nature of the game.

Here are 10 other players who find their jobs in jeopardy following the NFL Draft.

10. Will Tye (Tight End, New York Giants)

The Giants had already signed former Minnesota Vikings tight end Rhett Ellison prior to the NFL Draft, which potentially put several jobs in jeopardy. After drafting Mississippi tight end Evan Engram in the first round, those jobs are now even more in question.

Will Tye has essentially taken over as the team’s starter following the decline of Larry Donnell, who remains unsigned. But Tye had been pushed by 2016 sixth-round pick Jerell Adams a season ago. The Giants have been impressed with Adams’ multi-faceted versatility, but acknowledge there’s still some development needed.

Unlikely to carry more than three tight ends, Tye could be the odd man out for the Giants despite doing a solid job over the past two seasons, hauling in 90 receptions for 859 yards and four touchdowns.

9. Chris Ivory (Running Back, Jacksonville Jaguars)

Chris Ivory was supposed to be the Jaguars’ bell-cow running back of the future, signing a five-year, $32 million contract only a year ago. However, in his debut season for the Jaguars, Ivory left many disappointed, rushing for only 439 yards and three touchdowns with an average of 3.8 yards per carry.

With Tom Coughlin now in charge, the Jags’ first order of business at the NFL Draft was to find better quality at the running back position. Accordingly, the Jaguars selected LSU running back Leonard Fournette fourth overall.

With $7 million in a potential dead cap hit, it’s unlikely Ivory will be cut loose. But while the financials may be enough to keep him around, he appears poised to lose his job to Fournette and additional offensive snaps to T.J. Yeldon, who will likely serve as the team’s pass-catching back.

8. DeMarcus Lawrence/Tyrone Crawford (Defensive End, Dallas Cowboys

The Cowboys have a plethora of defensive players under contract heading into the 2017 season, but there’s no denying they needed some reinforcements. Specifically, they need to drastically improve their defensive line and pass rush, which they did with the first-round selection of Michigan defensive end Taco Charlton.

But with so many numbers along the defensive line, who is the odd man (or men) out?

Currently, the Cowboys have Tyrone Crawford, DeMarcus Lawrence, Charles Tapper, Benson Mayowa, Damontre Moore and David Irving under contract. And with Irving and Collins playing well in 2016, it’s safe to assume they’ll retain their jobs. Meanwhile, Mayowa and Thornton are entering their second season with the team, so it’s unlikely they’ll be sent packing.

At the end of the day, it all boils down to Lawrence and Crawford, who could be the fat that’s trimmed.

Lawrence is entering the final year of his contract and has a $1.75 million cap hit, while Crawford has four years remaining and a rather large $10.35 million cap hit in 2016. Of course, he would also carry a dead cap number of $17.65 million, so that may keep him safe.

7. Jeremy Hill (Running Back, Cincinnati Bengals)

The Bengals have an interesting problem on their hands in the aftermath of selecting Oklahoma running back Joe Mixon in the second-round of the NFL Draft. And no, we’re not talking about the public relations issue Cincinnati now faces because of Mixon’s extremely questionable past.

With such a substantial investment in Mixon, the Bengals have some uncertainty in their backfield. Jeremy Hill and Gio Bernard were supposed to be a solid one-two punch for years, but both players have struggled in the recent past.

Bernard saw his season cut short in 2016 due to a torn ACL, while Hill has been in a steady decline for three straight seasons. And given that Hill’s running style is similar to that of Mixon, he could ultimately be the player who draws the short straw.

Entering the final year of his contract, Hill is due roughly $1.2 million and would have a dead cap hit of $262,473. Meanwhile, the recovering Bernard has already secured his $1.25 million roster bonus for the season.

6. Mark Sanchez (Quarterback, Chicago Bears)

In early March, the quarterback-hungry Bears signed Mark Glennon to a three-year, $43.5 million deal. Later that month, they added veteran Mark Sanchez on a one-year, $2 million deal.

By all accounts, the Bears were set at the position. Glennon would be their starter and Sanchez would likely be their backup. But plans changed at the NFL Draft, and after the Browns passed over North Carolina quarterback Mitch Trubisky at No. 1 overall, Chicago sent a boatload of picks to the San Francisco 49ers to move up one spot and snag the QB.

That decision to draft Trubisky created an interesting conundrum for the Bears. And in its aftermath, even head coach John Fox has acknowledged it’s likely to get under the skin of Glennon.

So what’s it all mean as far as immediate impact? It’s hard to tell.

Trubisky has said all the right things and accepts potentially playing the backup role, but the Bears gave up a lot to get him. Of course, they gave up a lot for Glennon too, which leaves Sanchez as the possible odd man out if for no other reason than him being the most inexpensive player to send packing.

See Nos. 5-1 on Page 2

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