Don't get used to this 53-man roster. It's going to churn. It's going to change. And that could happen much sooner than later.
Arthur Smith said on Monday that the 53-man roster that is announced on Tuesday won't be the same that the Falcons go into Thursday and Friday with. That - to me - means a lot of different things are set in motion to happen.
When analyzing the initial 53-man roster, you can see the beginning stages of those movements. There were five specific cuts that were made that I can't help but point out may not stay "cut" for long.
Here are five players who could make a return to the Falcons 53-man roster, and the (hypothetical) situation that could bring them back.
OL Colby Gossett
The hypothetical situation to bring him back: Jalen Mayfield to IR
Mayfield has been dealing with a lingering lower back issue since before preseason games began. He had to miss a couple of practices early in camp because of it. Recently, Mayfield was excused from joint practice with the Jaguars as Smith confirmed he was sick. Mayfield didn't play in Saturday's final preseason game, nor did Gossett. Mayfield missed Monday's final practice before Tuesday's cut down date. Smith said after practice that Mayfield was still sick, but that he was also still working through that lower back issue.
If the lower back injury is one that continues to linger, it wouldn't be surprising if Mayfield lands on IR because of it. If he were to get moved from the active 53-man roster, that would open the door for someone like Gossett, who has been working at right guard throughout the preseason.
Another name to keep in mind is rookie Justin Shaffer, who was also cut on Tuesday. Shaffer had recently slotted into the left guard spot in Mayfield's absence over the last week of practices. However, it's likely the Falcons would choose to bring back Gossett over Shaffer, as Gossett has more league experience and experience in this offense, having been with the team in 2021, as well.
ILB Nick Kwiatkoski
The hypothetical situation to bring him back: A Deion Jones trade
This is a tricky situation. Kwiatkoski is a veteran player that could be scooped up by another defense before the Falcons could ever put a (hypothetical) trade together for Jones.
At this point, if the Falcons are wanting to part ways with Jones, the only logical way to do so would be via a trade. (Hints why Jones is on the initial 53-man roster. A cut is not a viable option towards the salary cap). This meant the Falcons had to part ways with Kwiatkoski, but that may not be a forever parting if a package is put together for Jones. It could be beneficial to bring back a veteran linebacker in the wake of that departure.
The kink in this thought, though, is that the Falcons decided to keep Nate Landman on the initial 53-man roster. If the thought was that you would cut someone to try to hold them on the side until you figure out what you're doing with Jones, you'd let a player go that you think you had the better chances of getting back. Between Kwiatkoski and Landman, Kwiatkoski likely has more league connections and could be picked up elsewhere quicker that Landman - an undrafted rookie - would. There's always incentives to be put in place to keep someone patient, though.
Another thought is that Kwiatkoski was dealing with an undisclosed injury early in camp, and had to work back to 100 percent over the last two weeks of the preseason. Perhaps it was an injury that gave the Falcons pause, especially when Landman had been playing so well with the second team. Either way, Kwiatkoski is a name to watch in the coming days.
TE Anthony Firkser
The hypothetical situation to bring him back: John FitzPatrick to IR
Firkser was arguably the biggest shock of the players cut on Tuesday afternoon. As a former tight end in Tennessee, Firkser has spent years working with Smith. The Falcons brought him in off the free agency market during the offseason, and he quickly became a consistent part of the tight end rotation. So, yes, his departure was relatively unexpected, particularly because the Falcons did keep FitzPatrick when Firkser has consistently been above FitzPatrick in the tight end pecking order.
The rookie tight end has been dealing with an injury throughout the final week of training camp, and did not dress for Saturday's final preseason game.
With this in mind, it would be a no-brainer that if FitzPatrick's injury is significant enough that the Falcons move him to IR and re-sign Firkser. If you're the Falcons, though, you hope Firkser flies under the radar until you can make that move.
If you're a betting (wo)man, I'd hedge your bets that we'll see Firkser back on this 53-man roster very soon.
DL Derrick Tangelo/Abdullah Anderson
The hypothetical situation to bring him back: Marlon Davidson to IR
We have not seen Davidson since the second week of training camp.
It was reported that on the day the Falcons traveled to New York for their second preseason game, that Davidson was having his knee scoped. Davidson has not seen the field since.
It feels as though Davidson's move to IR is inevitable. However, you have to carry him on the 53-man roster initially because of IR rules. If a player is placed on IR before the official cut down, they are on IR for the entire year. If the move is made after the player in question makes the 53-man, it's - at minimum - four games. Moving Davidson to IR makes sense, especially considering his injury seems serious enough.
This would open the door for someone like Tangelo or Anderson to make their way back onto the 53-man roster. It also opens the door for the Falcons to look into other cuts that are made of defensive linemen across the league. This is a position that needs depth. Do the Falcons go with players they have already had in the building for camp? Or do they find talent elsewhere? This is a storyline to monitor in the coming days.
We take a monochrome look at the matchup between the Atlanta Falcons and New Orleans Saints on September 11, 2022.
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