The NFL no longer trims rosters incrementally. In recent years the progression was from 90 players to 75 to 53, giving those released an earlier chance to perhaps catch on with another team.
Now, it’s mass unemployment, beginning after the final preseason games on Thursday night. The one and only cut is from 90 to 53.
Good? Bad? Maybe a bit of both.
Marginal players will get one extra chance to collect game tapes because they’ll be on the front lines in those Thursday games. Don’t expect many starters to be on the field. So that can be good.
But 1,200 on the market all at once? Not so good.
“For the young guys to have a chance to play one more game to prove their worth to us and the entire league, it’s valuable for those guys. For our staff to not have to play our valuable backups for an entire game, that’s also huge,” Vance Joseph, the Denver Broncos’ first-year coach, told the Associated Press.
It may be better for teams not to go into a meaningless preseason game, in which the staff’s mind is likely made up about the roster’s final composition, playing key backups and risking injuries. For the players who play, there is that very real risk of injury that compromises their chances to catch on elsewhere.
And yet, because there’s been no mandated cut, all of those players gained valuable extra time in practices and perhaps had a chance to make an impression that keeps their names fresh in the mind of coaches.
So that’s your final round of preseason games. It’s now a talent show for players who might have been cut two weeks ago. It’s a preservation of other bodies more valued by the teams.
And it’s going to be very interesting to see who goes and who stays. And where those who go are able to go.
Post By: Larry Weisman, a longtime sportswriter for USA TODAY, blogs for Twistity.com. Follow him on Twitter @MrLarryWeisman