It's just seven days until training camp begins, so I will be counting the days down one at a time, highlighting 7 players who i believe must use this training camp to cement their place on the team. This piece won’t include obvious picks, such as longshot UDFAs or clear camp bodies.
No, this list will be 7 players who you may expect to make the 53, but it may not be as clear cut as you believe. So read on, and at the end, voice your opinion in the poll and comments below and let me know what you think- expendable talent, or necessary depth?
Frostee Rucker and Red Bryant, both 32 years old.
Frostee Rucker is set to count 1.3 mil against the cap, none of it guaranteed. Bryant’s cap hit is about half that, at 680k. His contract also offers no dead cap. This is the specific reason why I targeted these two players. Corey Peters, initially considered, has a 2.5 mil cap hit, but if cut, would count as just over 3 mil in dead money.
Blake Murphy has a great preview of the position here, so I’m just going to do a quick overview. Bob Nkemdiche and Rodney Gunters are young locks for this position. Corey Peters and Calais Campbell are also locks in my opinion due to their contracts and dead cap penalties. Josh Mauro and Ed Stinson, young and valued for their positional flexibility, should make the 53 as well. Now as Blake mentioned, they only carried 7 DL on the roster last year, and we are at 6 already. So here’s where it gets dicey. Xavier Williams and Olsen Pierre are possibilities to take that seventh spot, possibly even unseat Stinson, or land on the practice squad. A lot of ways this position could go.
Production is hard to quantify for DTs. Rucker, playing more of an end position, collected 3 sacks in what was ultimately a down year. Red Bryant, more known as a "space filler" only has 4.5 career sacks, but that doesn’t do justice to his presence on the field.
The Bottom Line:
I truly get the feeling that there is only room for one of these two vets. Rucker has more flexibility on the line, Bryant has more size and power for the interior. Rucker’s contract is larger though, who ultimately may be the tipping point. Then again, maybe you keep both, and move on from an Ed Stinson. What would you do?