Three surprising moves from the NFL’s cut down day


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Atlanta Falcons WR Jared Bernhardt at a post-game interview during his time playing lacrosse at the University of Maryland.

Ethan K.

It is always a melancholy day across the NFL world when preseason games finish up. Yes, it is exciting that the start of the regular season is right around the corner, but it seems to break all sports fans’ hearts to see the rosters trimmed from 80 players to just 53—meaning that a total of 864 players (27 from each team) will be without a job. With that being said, it is not surprising to find a fair amount of heart-warming, underdog stories mixed in with the jumble of surprise releases. These three moves stood out as ones that had us jumping for joy and beridden with annoyance.


Former lacrosse player Jared Bernhardt wins a receiver spot in Atlanta

After winning the 2021 Tewaaraton Award as the nation’s best lacrosse player, Jared Bernhardt chose to take a graduate year at Ferris State University to play quarterback. Bernhardt took the Bulldogs to the Division II National Championship, leading them to a 58-17 victory over Valdosta State. He then chose to follow a path to the NFL, converting to wide receiver and being signed as an undrafted free agent following the draft by the Atlanta Falcons. After an impressive training camp and securing the game-winning touchdown in preseason against Detroit, Bernhardt locked up his 53-man roster spot and completed his seemingly-impossible journey.


Pittsburgh hangs on to Mason Rudolph

After releasing seventh round draft pick QB Chris Oladokun before he appeared in a game, the Steelers were down to just three quarterbacks on the roster. While it isn’t uncommon for a team to keep two backup quarterbacks, the Steelers have virtually no purpose in keeping third-stringer Mason Rudolph. The 2018 third-rounder out of Oklahoma State has looked decent in the 2022 preseason and has garnered trade interest across the league per reports from Gerry Dulac, a Steelers Inside Reporter. That is what makes this move baffling to me. Why hang on to your third string quarterback that is creating buzz in the trade market? Rudolph will ride the bench in Pittsburgh this year, making it bizarre to hang on to him, even with him fetching a decent market around the league. 


C.J. Gardner-Johnson finds a new home in Philadelphia

General Manager Howie Roseman continues a masterclass offseason with the addition of Chauncey “C.J.” Gardner-Johnson. The nickel cornerback/free safety had a great start to his young career in New Orleans, making the trade package (just a fourth-round draft pick and a seventh-rounder) a bargain of a price. Gardner-Johnson was arguably one of the top nickel/slot cornerbacks in the league before converting to a safety, so getting him for just two Day Three draft picks is a steal. With Philadelphia’s secondary needing a bit of retooling, this is a fantastic move from a playoff-hopeful Eagles team.