Tracking the Mountaineers in the NFL after cut day

Gold and Blue Nation

Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Tavon Austin, right, makes a reception as tight end Tim Tebow (85) looks to block oncoming Cleveland Browns safety Jovante Moffatt (35) during the first half of an NFL preseason football game, Saturday, Aug. 14, 2021, in Jacksonville, Fla. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)

NFL teams are officially down to their 53-man rosters with less than two weeks to go until the regular season. Unfortunately for players across the league, job security shrinks significantly as teams are forced to slim down their rosters.

This goes for a number of former stars at West Virginia. While many are secure in their positions, others found themselves on the chopping block, looking for a new home just before the season kickoff. Here’s where everyone ended up on cut day:

Tavon Austin, WR

  • 2020 team(s): San Francisco 49ers, Green Bay Packers
  • 2020 notables: Played for games after signing with Green Bay in December
  • This offseason: Signed 1-year contract with Jacksonville

After 8 years in the NFL, Austin has fashioned himself as a playmaking journeyman in the league — and in the first week of August, he kept that trend going by signing a one-year, $1.1 million contract with the Jaguars.

Austin played just four games for the Green Bay Packers in 2020, seeing 30 snaps and catching all five of his targets for 20 yards after he was released by the San Francisco 49ers in October. Before that, he played two years on the Dallas Cowboys after a productive five-year stint with the St. Louis and Los Angeles Rams.

Yodny Cajuste, OL

  • 2020 team(s): New England Patriots
  • 2020 notables: Placed on injured reserve in September
  • This offseason: Still with New England

Cajuste is in year three of his rookie contract after New England selected him in the third round of the 2019 NFL Draft. The Miami native has yet to play a snap for the Patriots, especially after spending the 2020 season on the IR with a knee injury.

Rasul Douglas, CB

  • 2020 team(s): Carolina Panthers
  • 2020 notables: Made 11 starts, 62 tackles and a tackle-for-loss
  • This offseason: Signed, released by Las Vegas, Houston

WVU’s former lockdown cornerback has seen a lot of time in an NFL uniform, playing in 60 games with the Eagles and the Panthers. Carolina opted not to re-sign Douglas after 2020, putting him on the free agency market in the offseason.

He originally signed a 1-year deal with the Raiders in April, but was released in August before getting quickly scooped up by Houston. Just six days later, though, Douglas was once again released.

Tony Fields II, LB

  • 2020 team(s): None — Rookie season upcoming
  • 2020 notables: Selected by Cleveland in fifth round of 2021 NFL Draft
  • This offseason: Signed four-year rookie deal, missed much of camp

WVU’s lone draftee had a disappointing summer after suffering a foot injury in minicamp. He didn’t see the practice field at training camp until Aug. 27, but despite missing so much time, Cleveland kept him on the roster as he competes for playing time at the will linebacker position.

Mark Glowinski, OL

  • 2020 team(s): Indianapolis Colts
  • 2020 notables: Started all 16 games for Indianapolis at guard
  • This offseason: Named to Indianapolis’s 53-man roster

When it comes to NFL veterans, no news is good news. Glowinski has been key to the Colts offense on the interior offensive line, starting all 16 games for the club in both 2019 and 2020. The 6-year man is entering the final year of his contract, for which he signed a three-year extension in the 2019 offseason worth a reported $16.2 million.

Will Grier, QB

  • 2020 team(s): Carolina
  • 2020 notables: No regular season appearances
  • This offseason: Cut by Carolina, reportedly picked up by Dallas

WVU’s former Heisman hopeful had a rocky start to his NFL career after joining the Panthers as a third round pick in 2019, making just two starts for the team as a rookie for his only career appearances so far. Grier was in a heated battle for the Panthers’ backup position during training camp, playing in all three preseason games as he vied for the spot against PJ Walker. He completed 22 of 31 passes for 222 yards and a touchdown, while adding a score with his feet for 24 yards.

Still, head coach Matt Rhule picked Walker to support starter Sam Darnold, and Grier was placed on waivers. Within a day, however, NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero reported that the Dallas Cowboys picked Grier up to compete for their backup position behind Dak Prescott.

Karl Joseph, S

  • 2020 team(s): Cleveland Browns
  • 2020 notables: Made 14 appearances and eight starts, racked up 67 tackles
  • This offseason: Signed by Las Vegas, waived in preseason, added to Pittsburgh’s practice squad

In a move that surprised both WVU and Raider fans alike, Joseph was among the unfortunate names on Las Vegas’s waiver list as they slimmed down to 53 men. Joseph made his return to the Raiders as a free agent after starting his career with them in 2016, playing four seasons in Oakland before joining Cleveland.

The Raiders unfortunately waived Joseph on the day of final cuts, but less than a day later, he was picked up by the Steelers to take a spot on their practice squad.

Nick Kwiatkoski, LB

  • 2020 team(s): Las Vegas Raiders
  • 2020 notables: Started 14 games, placed on injured reserve/COVID-19 list in December
  • This offseason: Named to Las Vegas’s 53-man roster

While Joseph was sent on his way from Sin City this summer, Kwiatkoski was kept around as he has established himself as a main piece of the Raider defense.

He is entering year two of a three-year, $21 million contract and is due for a big pay day come 2022 with $3.6 million in bonuses.

David Long Jr., LB

  • 2020 team(s): Tennessee Titans
  • 2020 notables: 14 appearances and five starts, 54 total tackles
  • This offseason: Named to Tennessee’s 53-man roster

Long has become an important young prospect in Nashville after two seasons, playing in 22 games. He is entering year three of his four-year rookie deal, and he is set to become an unrestricted free agent in the 2023 offseason.

Colton McKivitz, OL

  • 2020 team(s): San Francisco 49ers
  • 2020 notables: Played in 14 games, made three starts as a rookie
  • This offseason: Waived by San Francisco

After getting some surprise playing time in 2020 as a rookie, the 49ers put McKivitz on waivers Tuesday as they brought their lineup down to 53 guys. After clearing those waivers, McKivitz is now a free agent.

This move surprised some Niners pundits, especially since the team went with a veteram option in Tom Compton, while McKivitz was brought in as a fifth round draft pick in 2020.

Adam Pankey, OL

  • 2020 team(s): Miami Dolphins
  • 2020 notables: Four appearances for Miami
  • This offseason: Re-signed then released by Miami

Pankey joined the Dolphins in 2019 after short stints in Green Bay and Tennessee, and appeared in a total of six games for Miami in that two-year span.

He is now a free agent after the Dolphins released him on the final day of cuts.

Kenny Robinson, S

  • 2020 team(s): Carolina Panthers
  • 2020 notables: Made nine appearances and one tackle for Carolina
  • This offseason: Waived by Carolina

Robinson made headlines across the WVU sports world as he joined the St. Louis Battlehawks for the first (and only) season of the rebirth of the XFL. He stood out enough to get drafted by the Panthers in the following 2020 NFL Draft as a fifth rounder, but was waived and placed on the practice squad before the season’s start.

He eventually made it on to the team’s active roster, but was waived once again on the final day of cuts. This time around, Carolina did not keep him on the practice squad.

David Sills, WR

  • 2020 team(s): New York Giants
  • 2020 notables: Placed on injured reserve during training camp
  • This offseason: Signed a contract extension with New York Giants

Sills has been fortunate to find a steady home in East Rutherford since going pro as an undrafted free agent, but he hasn’t seen much game time. As a rookie, he was placed on the Giants’ practice squad before seeing regular season game time in December, but he missed all of 2020 with a foot injury.

He had a productive training camp, reeling in seven catches for 94 yards and a touchdown in three games, but was waived and placed on the team’s practice squad after cut day.

Geno Smith, QB

  • 2020 team(s): Seattle Seahawks
  • 2020 notables: Made one appearance as backup to Russell Wilson
  • This offseason: Signed one-year deal with Seattle

Smith is going into year three as the backup to Russell Wilson, and got the start in Seattle’s first preseason game on Aug. 14 against Las Vegas. Early in that contest, however, he suffered a concussion and ended up missing the second preseason game of the season.

He was back for the third contest and went 11-for-15 for 90 yards against the Chargers.

Quinton Spain, OL

  • 2020 team(s): Buffalo Bills, Cincinnati Bengals
  • 2020 notables: Started 10 games for Cincinnati after getting released by Buffalo
  • This offseason: Signed a one-year deal with Cincinnati

Quinton Spain was a mainstay on the Buffalo line before his surprise release in the early part of the 2020 season. He fell on his feet, though, and is listed as a starting guard for the Bengals this preseason.

Trevon Wesco, TE

  • 2020 team(s): New York Jets
  • 2020 notables: Four starts in 12 appearances, made one catch and had one rush
  • This offseason: Still with New York

Trevon Wesco has been an experiment for the Jets, who are hoping to get a return on their investment of a fourth-round pick in 2019. This offseason, new head coach Robert Saleh even tried moving the Martinsburg native to fullback, while maintaining the ability to play tight end.

Right now he is one of the Jets’ only two tight ends on the roster, along with Tyler Kroft.

Kevin White, WR

  • 2020 team(s): San Francisco 49ers
  • 2020 notables: Made three appearances, no targets
  • This offseason: Signed, released by New Orleans Saints, but put on practice squad

Once a promising first round prospect in Chicago, White has struggled to get his career off the ground after five seasons. He was released by the 49ers at the beginning of training camp and was signed by the Saints six days later, but didn’t quite show enough to make the 53-man roster in New Orleans.

Luckily, he’s not done in the Big Easy, as he was put on the team’s practice squad.

Kyzir White, S

  • 2020 team(s): Los Angeles Chargers
  • 2020 notables: Played in 11 games and made 72 tackles, recorded first half-sack vs. Jacksonville
  • This offseason: Still with Chargers

White seems to have locked up one of the Chargers’ inside linebacker spots on the starting lineup after showing off three promising years in Los Angeles. The upcoming campaign is big for him as he enters the final year of his rookie contract — he becomes an unrestricted free agent in 2022.

Daryl Worley, CB

  • 2020 team(s): Dallas Cowboys, Buffalo Bills, Las Vegas Raiders
  • 2020 notables: Made 10 appearances, including five starts for Dallas and Las Vegas
  • This offseason: Signed, released by Arizona Cardinals

Worley has bounced around the league, appearing for four different NFL teams (including both iterations of the Raiders). He almost made it five this summer, but didn’t survive the Cardinals’ final cuts of the season.

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