The NFL preseason is over. The first game of the season, Kansas City Chiefs vs New England Patriots, is only five days away. And all 32 teams have to trim their rosters down to no more than 53 players by the end of business today. This is the day that coaches and general managers have to make the final choices on those bubble players. Pick between the savvy but expensive veteran versus the inexperienced by potential-filled rookie. Decide if a player is going to help your team or if it's better off you let them go. It's a difficult day for management and an even worse day for those players who gave everything they had for their NFL dream only to discover the team is going to go another direction.
And then there is the practice squad. A group of 10 players, most with less than 2 accrued years in the NFL, that are part of the team during practices, meetings and coaching sessions but do not suit up or play in the games. Its a way to work with players you think have a lot of potential but just aren't ready for a regular roster spot. Now, unlike the 53-man roster, other teams can sign a player from another teams practice squad, but they have to go directly to that teams regular roster. You can't sign from one practice squad to another. But there is an even more interesting catch, you have to cut a player before they can be put on your practice squad. When a player gets cut, they go on what is called the wavier wire and other teams can claim the player before they become officially released. If a team drafted a player they really liked, but the player needs more work before they justify being on the 53-man roster, they must cut the player and risk another team claiming them. Only when a player clears waivers can a team then sign the player to the practice squad.
Each team is cutting form 90 players to 53 which means that they're cutting 37 players each for a total of 1,184 players suddenly being available. Or 1,147 players a general manager and head coach can look at to see if they're an upgrade to what the team has on their roster. There are a lot of trades going on right now.
A good example of this is the Carolina Panthers. They've trimmed down to 53-players but there is no way that it's the 53 they'll have by Sunday. The made the veteran vs younger player move by choosing punter Michael Palardy over veteran Andy Lee. The did the rookie cut and hope to clear for practice squad with linebacker Ben Boulware and they're only carrying three safeties, meaning they're searching the waiver wires looking for another. But they have one extra thing going on. At the moment they have two place kickers on their roster. Graham Gano, a veteran and with the team last year, and Harrison Butker that they drafted in the 7th round this year. Word is the team is getting calls about both players. Which means that they will take a trade deal on one, maybe for a safety.
Another big deal was just made as the New England Patriots have traded QB Jacoby Brissett to the Indianapolis Colts for WR Phillip Dorsett. Brissett had a great game the other night while the Colts felt they needed an upgrade behind Andrew Luck.
New like this will continue through the day and even well into the week as teams scramble to lock in their opening day rosters. And the teams can fill their practice squads tomorrow after players clear the waiver wire.