With the 3rd Preseason week already underway we now prepare for the first massive roster cutdown. By 4PM on Tuesday the 27th teams must reduce their rosters from 90 to 75 players. I currently have around 2,900 players in the active contract database. By Wednesday nearly 480 players will lose their jobs. For those picked up via the waiver process it just means someone else will lose their position the following day.
For many this will be the end of a dream. There are many “rookies” who have been through this multiple times before. After so many tryouts, sometimes with multiple teams, many will not be brought back next season. For some true rookies this was their first training camp and perhaps the door is open for a tryout again at a later time. But for most it won’t be. Remember that many of the players who will be cut barely made a dime in their quest to catch on with a team.
For veterans who don’t escape cut week this could mark the end of a career. At this point it is all about filling a need for a team and hoping the team is familiar enough with your work to consider you. Jason Smith, just released by the Saints, got lucky. Smith spent a month trying to find a home following his release from the New York Jets in the winter. New Orleans eventually signed him to a minimum salary benefit contract. However the Jets were familiar with him and now, nearly 5 months after his release, feel that they may have a need for a reserve lineman. He got another chance. Steve Breaston wasn’t so lucky. He was also cut by the Saints months after being cut by the Cardinals.He has yet to find a job and at beast may be an emergency injury replacement during the season.
On the bright side teams sometimes can be calculated with the decision to cut a player now. Often the feeling is that a player cut now has no potential. But sometimes teams see this as an opportunity to pass someone through waivers who they really like for the Practice Squad. The last round of cuts, which occur on August 31, is often like a shark tank of teams grabbing players off waivers that they liked during a draft that they couldn’t get the hands on during camp. If you have a guy you really like for your Practice Squad you want to minimize the chance of losing him then, so you take a chance that he can get cleared through waivers now and then you quickly sign him to the Practice Squad in September with no hangups or interference from other teams.
We’ll do our best to keep up with all the action here and get the rosters cleaned up to reflect all the movement over the next few days.
Jason is the founder of OTC and has been studying NFL contracts and the salary cap for over 15 years. Jason has co-authored two books about the NFL, Crunching Numbers and the Drafting Stage, which are widely circulated in the industry and hosts the OTC Podcast. Jason’s work has been featured in various publications including the Sporting News, Sports Illustrated, NFL Network and more. OTC is widely considered the leading authority on contract matters in the NFL.