The list of potential roster cuts or trade candidates at the outset of training camp is not nearly as long or spicy as one constructed in February. At this point, if a big name or highly paid player doesn't make it to Week 1, something has usually gone wrong. That something could include a slow recovery from injury or simply a rough camp. In the hot sunlight of August, some veterans don't look as integral as they did on a winter's whiteboard.
The rundown below is comprised of players who can't afford to endure a sluggish August, as such a development could put them at risk of not remaining with their current teams into the season.
LeSean McCoy, RB, Buffalo Bills: The Bills could save over $6 million by dumping their sixth leading rusher of all time, but this wouldn't be a move primarily about money. While Shady still looked explosive at times in 2018, his 3.2 yards-per-carry mark raised questions about whether he's a fit for coordinator Brian Daboll's offense. Bills general manager Brandon Beane has told anyone who will listen that he believes McCoy can still play, and I believe him. But if Frank Gore, T.J. Yeldon and rookie Devin Singletary all look strong in camp, Beane should be willing to deal McCoy for a mid-to-late-round draft pick. This scenario might only come together if there is a serious injury to a starter elsewhere in the league.
Duke Johnson, RB, Cleveland Browns: Johnson asked for a trade this offseason, but it makes sense that general manager John Dorsey hasn't listened yet. Johnson is an excellent complementary back on a reasonable contract, one that Dorsey negotiated just last offseason. Cleveland won't get Kareem Hunt back from suspension until after midseason, so I suspect the Browns won't get a trade offer for Johnson with as much value as Johnson could provide to a playoff-ready roster.
Case Keenum, QB, Washington Redskins: This is a long-shot scenario, but it's possible the Redskins could flip Keenum before he ever plays a snap for the team. If Dwayne Haskins beats out Keenum for the starting job and Colt McCoy is healthy enough to back Haskins up, the Redskins could probably get a pick swap at worst in exchange for Keenum. Due just $3.5 million in 2019, Keenum makes less than most veteran backup quarterbacks.
At risk of release
Theo Riddick, RB, Detroit Lions: The Lions signed C.J. Anderson in free agency, then drafted Ty Johnson to build up the team's running back depth. With second-year back Kerryon Johnson entrenched as the starter, Riddick will need to stay healthy and show off his impressive hands to ensure a roster spot.
Tavon Austin, WR, Dallas Cowboys: We're a long way from Cowboys executive Stephen Jones expecting Austin to average double-digit touches per game. Dallas signed slot receiver Randall Cobb and drafted satellite back Tony Pollard, who could take Austin's return duties. Given just $500,000 guaranteed on his new contract, Austin might wind up competing with Allen Hurns for a roster spot.
Rex Burkhead, RB, New England Patriots: It's hard to imagine Bill Belichick cutting a player as Patrioty as Burkhead, even if the numbers game isn't promising. Sony Michel, James White and rookie third-rounder Damien Harris are locks to make the squad, while special teamer Brandon Bolden and fullback James Develin are good bets. Even the committee-loving Patriots would struggle to keep six players in one backfield, although August injuries often have a way of making these decisions easier.
Demaryius Thomas, WR, New England Patriots: Never assume a receiver coming off a torn Achilles tendon will make it all the way back, especially a 31-year-old like Thomas, who showed signs of decline before the injury.
DeShone Kizer, QB, Green Bay Packers: It's possible that Aaron Rodgers' backup is not yet on Green Bay's roster. Kizer has yet another new coach to win over, something he's struggled to do in the past. Packers coach Matt LaFleur is a candidate to scour the waiver wire or low-end trade market for one of "his guys."
Cameron Meredith, WR, New Orleans Saints: Signed last offseason as a restricted free agent from the Bears on a two-year, $9.5 million contract, Meredith struggled to get snaps in 2018. He took a reduced salary with $1.5 million guaranteed to stay a second year, but the Saints could just eat that cash as a sunk cost if he can't stay healthy.
Other names at risk of release:Ryan Allen, P, New England Patriots; Chris Boswell, K, Pittsburgh Steelers; Artie Burns, CB, Pittsburgh Steelers; Ken Crawley, CB, New Orleans Saints; Vernon Davis, TE, Washington Redskins; Kenneth Dixon, RB, Baltimore Ravens; Ereck Flowers, OT, Washington Redskins; Joshua Garnett, OG, San Francisco 49ers; Taylor Heinicke, QB, Carolina Panthers; Cardale Jones, QB, Los Angeles Chargers; Greg Joseph, K, Cleveland Browns; Kyle Lauletta, QB, New York Giants; Terrelle Pryor, WR, Jacksonville Jaguars; Reggie Ragland, LB, Kansas City Chiefs; Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, CB, Washington Redskins; Wendell Smallwood, RB, Philadelphia Eagles; DeMarcus Walker, DL, Denver Broncos; DeAndre Washington, RB, Oakland Raiders.