The Debrief

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Cutdown Debrief: Payouts punctuate deluge of roster moves

There has never been a roster cutdown day quite like this one. With no preseason games and more than 600 transactions to crank out, front offices were busy tidying up their 53-man rosters with less than a week to go before the regular season starts. Saturday won't be the end, with teams scrambling throughout the weekend to fill their expanded practice squads, which can now include up to six veterans.

On top of the cuts, there were trades, quarterback battles decided and massive extensions handed out over the last 48 hours. Here's what you need to know:

1) The details of Deshaun Watson's contract aren't that interesting, beyond the length of the extension. Tacking on four years to Watson's rookie deal keeps him under control in Houston through the 2025 season, which is a massive boost for Bill O'Brien's chances at staying in town that long with him. Watson reportedly wanted a shorter contract, but the two sides reached a compromise on a deal that included $40 million per season in new money.

O'Brien hasn't been shy in handing out huge contracts since officially taking over as Texans general manager, with deals for tackle Laremy Tunsil, pass rusher Whitney Mercilus, linebacker Zach Cunningham and now Watson. For all the understandable grief O'Brien has taken, he deserves some credit for trading up for Watson back in 2017. Former Texans general manager Rick Smith also helped there, but O'Brien won a power struggle soon thereafter that proved the team was not making any aggressive moves like the one for Watson without O'Brien's strong input.

With a top-five quarterback in place, the Texans have a margin for error that few teams outside of Seattle, Baltimore and Kansas City can claim.

2) Don't overlook the big business Chargers general manager Tom Telesco accomplished in training camp. The four-year extension Keenan Allen agreed to Saturday is worth more than $80 million, according to NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport. Still just 28 years old, the outrageous route runner has shaken off his injury-prone label with three straight seasons of 16 games played. Combined with Joey Bosa's big extension, the Chargers have a great foundation for the future if the Justin Herbert pick works. What was shaping up to be a fun prospective free-agent crop in 2021, meanwhile, is already being thinned.

3) Tre'Davious White got the contract in Buffalo that Stephon Gilmore never did. It's not often that a future All-Pro player is replaced by another future All-Pro at the same position, but that's what happened when the Bills drafted White to replace Stephon Gilmore. They were the best two cornerbacks in football last year, and now White is paid like it, having inked a four-year extension worth $70 million, according to Rapoport. The Bills have done an incredible job under coach Sean McDermott building their young defensive nucleus, with White being the key figure. Gilmore still has two years left on his deal with the Patriots and is relatively underpaid, which is an issue to watch next offseason.

4) The release of Josh Rosen is a brutal blow for the 2018 No. 10 overall pick. It is unprecedented for a quarterback taken that high, post-merger, to be traded and released before his third season. (It's possibly unprecedented even if we include the pre-merger era, but guys were probably traded for live chickens in the 1940s, and I don't have time to check all those cases.)

Rosen is still just 23. It's fair to question why the Cardinals and Dolphins were both willing to give up on him so quickly, but he's likely to get at least one more chance to make something out of his career. (UPDATE: The Buccaneers are signing Rosen to their practice squad, NFL Network's Mike Garafolo and Tom Pelissero reported Sunday.)

5) The Adrian Peterson release came as a surprise, because he ran so well last season. It makes sense that Ron Rivera didn't want Peterson stopping the progress of youngsters Bryce Love and Antonio Gibson, but I still think there's a role somewhere out there for the 35-year-old future Hall of Famer. Peterson may just have to wait for an injury elsewhere during the season before he gets one last shot as a veteran gun for hire. (UPDATE: Peterson is signing with the Detroit Lions.)

6) Alex Smith making the Washington Football Team's 53-man roster is a remarkable achievement. Once Smith was able to practice, it made sense to keep him around as a mentor to Dwayne Haskins, at the very least. Smith's guaranteed salary was a factor here, but I'm not discounting Smith's ability to take the next step to being game-ready at some stage in 2020. After the mountain Smith has climbed to get to this point, anything seems possible in his comeback. Just making the team feels like reaching the summit.

7) Raiders GM Mike Mayock used a third-round pick on Lynn Bowden Jr., and had planned to convert him to running back. Bowden didn't make it to September, with the Raiders quickly admitting a mistake by sending him to the Dolphins for a move up in the 2021 NFL Draft from the sixth round to the fourth round. Jon Gruden-led teams tend to sour on players quickly, and they clearly didn't see a future for Bowden.

They can sour on veterans quickly too, including safety Damarious Randall, who was guaranteed a $1.5 million base salary upon signing, then was released Friday. I'm not sure if Randall and cornerback Prince Amukamara both failing to make the Raiders is a good sign for their young secondary or the correction of an oversight by Mayock.

8) It was not a huge surprise to learn from NFL Network's Tom Pelissero that Mitchell Trubisky will open the season as the Bears' starting quarterback. Reports from Chicago beat writers throughout August indicated that neither Trubisky nor Nick Foles lit it up in training camp. There is some logic in the tie going to the incumbent. Foles has come off the bench before, and there's a sense that when the Bears bench Mitch, it will be for good. While Trubisky may not have a long leash, the Bears' early schedule of opposing defenses appears forgiving.

9) The Cowboys should get pass rusher Randy Gregory back after all. The NFL conditionally reinstated Gregory on Friday after he lost all of last season to suspension. He is not eligible to play until Week 6 and has barely been available since the Cowboys drafted him in 2015. Still, he was a pass-rushing presence in 14 games in 2018. If everyone stays healthy, the Cowboys' top four edge rushers -- DeMarcus Lawrence, Everson Griffen, Aldon Smith and Gregory -- could be fearsome.

10) The Jaguars cut Mike Glennon, elevating sixth-round rookie quarterback Jake Luton to the backup spot behind Gardner Minshew. Glennon started 13 games as a rookie in Tampa and once was a Week 1 starter for the Bears, but this may be the end of the road for him. Meanwhile, the Jaguars have 16 rookies on their initial 53-man roster. That's as rebuilding as rebuilding gets.

11) Eagles GM Howie Roseman denied reports that the team was trying to trade wideout Alshon Jeffery. They also surprisingly activated Jeffery off the PUP list, which means he'll have a chance to play earlier in the season than expected.

12) The Jets announced that Joe Flacco passed his physical, meaning he'll be on the active roster. It appears Flacco will be ready to back up Sam Darnold in Week 1.

13) The 49ers activated wideout Deebo Samuel from the team's Non-Football Injury List, which indicates a chance that Samuel could be ready to play sooner than later, possibly even in the opener. That is welcome news for a team with a lot of injury questions.

14) The Jaguars placed running back Ryquell Armstead on the COVID-19 list for a second time on Friday, which helps to clarify their post-Leonard Fournette backfield. Undrafted rookie James Robinson impressed the Jags in camp, and Devine Ozigbo can play all three downs. Veteran Chris Thompson also figures to get plenty of passing-down work under his old boss Jay Gruden. Free agent Devonta Freeman is visiting the team, according to Pelissero. There's little reason to think the Jags will miss Fournette.

15) Draft Twitter loved Hakeem Butler, but the 2019 fourth-round pick couldn't make it out of his second training camp on a team that wants to start four wide receivers. Butler was ranked as high as a top-15 prospect by some analysts.

16) The Patriots don't currently have a kicker. Perhaps they will bring back Nick Folk after placing a veteran on injured reserve later in the week, or perhaps Bill Belichick is going to get really wild in the post-Tom Brady era. After cutting the 31-year-old Mohamed Sanu earlier in the week, the Patriots' release of 29-year-old running back Lamar Miller is another sign this team is trying to get younger and faster.

17) David Blough, Thanksgiving hero, did not make the Lions' initial 53-man roster. This cruel cut, however, could be followed with Blough being placed on the practice squad.

18) The Jake Kumerow dream appears to be over in Green Bay. The new-school Jeff Janis -- and Aaron Rodgers' favorite -- was part of the Packers' cuts.

19) The Cowboys are reportedly planning to place RT La'el Collins on injured reserve in a few days. That will allow him to return in as little as three weeks, but it is a huge blow to an offensive line already without center Travis Frederick. Journeyman Cameron Erving appears to be Collins' replacement, which is a huge downgrade.

Follow Gregg Rosenthal on Twitter @greggrosenthal

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