For some players, this is going to be one of those days. A day of disappointment. A day when they will meet “The Turk,” that guy who says, “the coach wants to see you. And by the way, bring your iPad (playbook).”
Players who are cut pack their belongings in garbage bags and head home to wait for a phone call from their Agent telling them they have another chance.
Such is the life of a JAG (Just another guy) in the NFL.
Today is cut day, or the first one anyway. All teams must reduce their roster from the offseason limit of 90 players down to 75 by 4:00 pm (EDT). It also signifies that the regular season is a little over a week away.
For the Denver Broncos, they only need to make two transactions, whether it’s putting someone on the Reserve/Injured list or Reserve/Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list or waiving a player. In any case, the Active roster must be at 75 or less by the deadline.
The Broncos have one last preseason game coming up tomorrow and after that, the final cuts will come. On August 31, prior to 6:00 p.m., New York time, all NFL teams must trim their rosters to a maximum of 53 players on the Active/Inactive List.
The Broncos have already made the majority of cuts before this first due date and those players stand the best chance of making the 8-man Practice Squad, due to the limited game film on them during the preseason.
If a team believes a player will not make their active roster but is a good candidate for the Practice Squad, they don’t want him around for the last week of camp because they don’t want to showcase him to other teams. By cutting a potential Practice Squad player at this point, they are attempting to hide the player while hoping another team does not add him to its active roster. Not only that, but making the moves between the third preseason game and the next practice prevents affected players from suffering injuries while still on the roster, in which case the team could be responsible for all or part of the players’ salaries.
I was talking to Broncos Alumni Reggie Rivers one day and he told me this story about making the team as an undrafted free agent in 1991. As an undrafted guy, the Turk may be more real than to a draft pick. They are underdogs to begin with, so a greater effort is required to turn a Summer temp job into a more permanent career.
So Reggie explained that he was always looking out for “The Turk” though he didn’t even want to know who this guy was. All through Training Camp he worried and fretted. Then, cut day came. The next day, he arrived at the Broncos practice facility parking lot and saw teammate Steve Atwater getting out of his car. Atwater told him, “welcome to the team rook, you made it.”
It still took Reggie a few more hours before he exhaled and realized that he had truly made the team.
“I got through breakfast and into the morning team meeting. No one came and tapped me on the shoulder telling me to turn in my playbook, so I felt I had finally made it.”
Rivers was one of the fortunate few. An undrafted Free Agent who made the club in his first attempt.
I will leave you with a 10 minute video of a poem by Actor John Amos. You might recognize him from many TV showed, but perhaps his biggest role came in Eddie Murphy’s “Coming To America.” Amos used to play football, and even tried out for the Kansas City Chiefs. It was there that he found his true calling and he decided to honor those who helped him in that search by leaving them with this poem. It is worth the time to watch.
– Kaptain Kirk