As NFL teams stare down the barrel of roster cuts to finalize their 53-man rosters, a group of former Detroit Lions finds themselves searching for new opportunities in the league. Among them are defensive tackle Danny Shelton, veteran tight end Jesse James, and quarterback Jeff Driskel. Each has had a unique journey in the NFL, and they find themselves at different crossroads as teams make their final pre-season decisions.
Danny Shelton's Circuitous Route
First up is Danny Shelton, who has recently been cut by the Kansas City Chiefs, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter. Shelton was initially a first-round pick in the 2015 NFL Draft and had shown promise in Cleveland before breaking out as a run stuffer in New England, where he won two Super Bowls. He joined the Lions in 2020 but struggled to maintain his effectiveness, finishing the year with just 37 tackles and one sack in 12 starts. The defensive tackle later had a short stint with the New York Giants before joining the Chiefs. Last season, he only appeared in one game for Kansas City.
Jesse James' Waning Production
Next is Jesse James, whose time with the New Orleans Saints has been cut short. According to MLIVE, the Saints released James as part of their roster cuts finalization process. James, a nine-year veteran, was a fifth-round selection by the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 2015 NFL Draft. After some productive years in Pittsburgh, he signed a four-year, $22.6 million contract with the Lions in 2019. His tenure in Detroit was lackluster, catching just 30 passes for 271 yards and two touchdowns over 32 games. His exit from Detroit came amid sweeping changes to the team's management and coaching staff in early 2021.
Jeff Driskel's Positional Roulette
Finally, Jeff Driskel, the journeyman quarterback, finds himself back on the market. Driskel, who was released by the Arizona Cardinals as they reshuffled their quarterback room, filled in for Matthew Stafford in Detroit during the 2019 season. Driskel completed 59% of his passes, throwing for 685 yards, four touchdowns, and four interceptions in three starts. His season was prematurely ended by a hamstring injury. Since then, he's had stints with the Denver Broncos and Houston Texans, even briefly switching to tight end while with the Texans.
Final Thoughts on Roster Cuts
While Shelton, James, and Driskel have had varying degrees of success in the league, they are currently united by the uncertainty that accompanies being cut from an NFL roster. As they navigate the next steps of their careers, whether it's finding a new team or perhaps landing on a practice squad, it's a reminder of the often harsh realities of life in the NFL.