The theory that NFL teams would go with three quarterbacks to start the pandemic-impacted season took a hit Saturday.
Lots of third-stringers were sent packing as the 32 teams got down to the 53-man limit on their rosters. The season opens Thursday night with the Houston Texans visiting the Kansas City Chiefs, the reigning Super Bowl champions.
Perhaps most noteworthy was Miami releasing Josh Rosen, a first-round selection by the Arizona Cardinals in 2018 who was dealt to the Dolphins last year after the Cardinals took Kyler Murray with the top overall selection. Rosen was behind veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick and first-rounder Tua Tagovailoa on the depth chart.
"The most important thing is to kind of move forward and not look back," Dolphins coach Brian Flores said. "You don't hit on every play, on every trade, on every draft pick. Show me a team that has hit on every one. I'll applaud that team."
Miami also kept Malcolm Perry, a star quarterback at Navy who is now a receiver, and traded for versatile rookie Lynn Bowden Jr., a third-round draft pick of the Las Vegas Raiders. Bowden can play running back or receiver, and he also played quarterback at Kentucky.
Alex Smith made Washington's 53-man roster, another significant step in his remarkable comeback 22 months since severely breaking his right leg and then having medical complications. Coach Ron Rivera said there's no plan to put Smith on injured reserve in the coming days. Smith might even be Dwayne Haskins' backup in the season opener Sept. 13 against the Philadelphia Eagles.
Another heartwarming story: Star-crossed tight end Jake Butt made the Denver Broncos after overcoming his sixth knee operation. In three seasons in Denver, the former Michigan star has played in as many games (three) as he has had major knee surgeries, each of which required a cleanup procedure.
"If you've been through an ACL (injury), you know how hard one is. When you go through three, it means a lot to get that recognition from your comrades, your teachers, your coaches," Butt said recently. "But for me, I'm healthy. It's part of my story, but I'm out there — I'm out there playing ball, I'm not looking back."
Other quarterbacks released were veteran Mike Glennon and Josh Dobbs of the Jacksonville Jaguars; David Blough of the Detroit Lions, who lost all five of his starts subbing for the injured Matthew Stafford in 2019; Paxton Lynch of the Pittsburgh Steelers; Cooper Rush and Alex Tanney of the New York Giants; Kurt Benkert and Kyle Lauletta of the Atlanta Falcons; Chad Kelly of the Indianaplis Colts; and David Fales and Mike White of the New York Jets, who said veteran Joe Flacco passed his physical after neck surgery.
One NFL star quarterback got much richer. The Houston Texans and Deshaun Watson reached agreement on a four-year, $160 million contract that ranks only behind the 10-year, $503 million deal for Kansas City's Patrick Mahomes.
"As a child growing up in Georgia, it was always my dream to play in the NFL," Watson, who played for the Gainesville Red Elephants before starring at Clemson, wrote on social media. "Today, I couldn't be more honored and humbled to sign a long-term deal in Houston, the city that I've grown to love so much and now call my home."
"I promise to do everything I can to not only bring a championship to this great city but also leave a legacy of helping positively impact this community," he wrote in the post. "Now back to the work "
The Los Angeles Chargers' Keenan Allen received a four-year deal that will make him the league's second-highest paid receiver in average money. He will get $80.1 million with $50 million guaranteed.
The Chargers also waived Trent Scott, who started nine games at tackle last season.
Pittsburgh cut longtime defensive tackle Dan McCullers. A sixth-round pick in 2014, the massive McCullers (6-foot-7, 352 pounds), carved out a niche as a backup but struggled to get into the regular defensive line rotation.
The Dallas Cowboys released two veterans who played all 16 games last season: linebacker Justin March and cornerback C.J. Goodwin. March and Goodwin mostly played on special teams but also some on defense because of injuries.
The San Francisco 49ers activated starting receiver Deebo Samuel from the nonfootball injury list.
It's not certain Samuel will be able to play in the opener. He caught 57 passes for 802 yards and three touchdowns last season and also made big contributions in the running game. He had 14 carries for 159 yards and three scores, and he was a standout in the postseason, too.
NFL teams can sign up to 16 players to their practice squad starting Sunday.
The Buffalo Bills released two players they plan to bring back: receiver/return man Andre Roberts and safety Dean Marlowe. The Patriots cut both of their kickers, veteran Nick Folk and rookie fifth-round draft pick Justin Rohrwasser.
Making the Giants' roster was Mr. Irrelevant: Georgia linebacker Tae Crowder, the final player taken in April's draft.