With the exception of Harmon and Latimer, none of the unavailable players were slated to have a major role this season. Most were unlikely to make the final roster.
Harmon’s injury and Latimer’s exempt status hurts the team primarily because they were both expected to contribute at the same position. Emanuel Hall’s injury, which led to his being waived last week, exacerbates the problem. Not only are all three players wide receivers, but they are all best suited to play the Z receiver. Their departure leaves rookie Antonio Gandy-Golden as the only Z receiver with reasonable upside.
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The two players who have opted out – Caleb Brantley and Joshua Harvey-Clemons – would have been depth players had they made the roster this season. Brantley is a promising young interior defensive lineman. But he was behind Jonathan Allen, Daron Payne, Matt Ioannidis, and Tim Settle. His presence would have provided outstanding depth and would have allowed for even greater flexibility along the line should DC Jack Del Rio want to move Allen or Ioannidis outside in certain alignments. But Brantley was a luxury item.
With the addition of new linebackers such as Kevin Pierre-Louis and Khaleke Hudson, Harvey-Clemons was not likely to make the final roster.
The same is true of the five players who were released. There was one each from different position groups: running back Josh Ferguson, tight end Caleb Wilson, offensive lineman Jeremy Vujnovich, defensive lineman Cameron Malveaux, and defensive back Maurice Smith.
Ferguson and Malveaux came from positions at which the team is strong, and so they were fighting an uphill battle. Vujnovich and Smith did not come from positions of particular strength, but their positions did have a lot of numbers in camp. The surprise was Wilson, who was not likely to make the final roster, but came from the weakest position group on the roster, tight end.