Cut-down day in the National Football League is hard. It is particularly difficult when a team is forced to let go of a player that has been a valued contributor in the past. Cutting wide receiver Tyron Johnson was not an easy thing to do for Los Angeles Chargers head coach Brandon Staley.
As a rookie last season, Johnson proved to be a bright light for the Chargers. In 12 games, Johnson caught 20 passes for 398 yards and three touchdowns. Not outstanding numbers, but when you look at his eye-popping 19.9 yards per catch numbers, Johnson indeed made his mark with the Chargers.
That was 2020. In getting to the mandatory 53-player active roster, Staley and the Chargers decided to waive the second-year player. The Chargers are deep at the wide receiver position with starters Keenan Allen and Mike Williams, Jalen Guyton, KJ Hill, and rookie Joshua Palmer all in the mix.
Johnson was among the 16 players the Chargers released on Aug. 31 to trim their roster down to 53. Fellow wide receivers Joe Reed, Jason Moore Jr. and Michael Bandy, were also waived by the team. Parting ways with Johnson was not an easy thing to do, Staley said.
“It was a tough one, a really tough one,” Staley said. “T-Billy has done a lot for this team in the past and he did some good things for us in camp. That was one of the tougher conversations that I had today. I think that we have a really deep receiver room. There’s a lot of competition.
“I think that it’s just one of things where it’s more numbers, not so much how we feel about him as a player because I have a lot of respect for his game,” Staley continued. “Just where we’re at from a numbers standpoint, and then the kicking game, being a big aspect of those back-end receiver roles. Just felt like going in this direction would be the right direction for us right now.”
Besides cutting Johnson, it was just as difficult to cast away Reed who the team nabbed in the fifth round of the 2020 draft. Reed was used in multiple ways for the Chargers, including lining up as a punt and kickoff returner and even playing running back at times if the moment called for it.
Like Johnson, the numbers game caught up with Reed, Staley said.
“The receiver room, as we talked about during camp is just super competitive,” Staley commented. “What ended up happening for him, too, was, just from a return standpoint, he didn’t get a chance those last two weeks to really express himself because he got hurt. Where we were at with the receiver, and where we are at with returner, just didn’t feel like that was going to be the direction for us. It’s not over for him. He’s a good player. He still has his career out in front of him. Hopefully, we can get him healthy here and see where it goes.”
Featured Image Caption: Wide receiver and kick returner Joe Reed (12), a second-year player from Virginia, looks to field a kickoff during the Los Angeles Chargers-Los Angeles Rams NFL preseason game played at Sofi Stadium in Inglewood, California. Reed was waived by the Chargers on Aug. 31 as the team finalized its 53-player roster. Photo credit: Mark Hammond/News4usonline