Fourth & Forever: Cutting Ties
With the 2013 NFL season just 11 days away, teams are focusing on making the best possible decisions on creating a deep competitive team. The once 90- man roster, will be cut down to 75 players on Tuesday August 27th. Days following, that number will shrink to 53 by August 31st. Teams should already have a since, on who is going to make the first cut. The hard part is figuring out who is going to make the final cut. Everyone plays their final preseason game on Thursday August 29th, just two days after the first cut and two before the final cut. Usually the final preseason game is dedicated to rookies and undrafted free agents. This gives coaches time to looker closer at specific players. Maybe a rookie has missed a few weeks of training camp due to injuries and this is their last stand on making the team. Some of the main things that coaches look for in making their last decisions will be discussed.
One of the things GMs, coaches and personnel will be looking for is talent. If someone goes down, can this person come in and replace the injured? Will this person be consistent about it? Do we have to worry about this person being injury prone? Another thing that they look at that is probably the most important is, does this person have character issues? Teams are looking to win, but they're also looking to see if this person will respect the name, respect the brand of this team. Former Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez had all the talent in the world, but had some character issues coming out of college. He slipped down to the fourth round and was finally drafted by the Patriots. He was rewarded with a five-year $37.5 contract extension last year. Now released, Hernandez faces murder charges. On top of that, they now have linked him to other murder charges back in 2012. Teams try to scout players from a winning stand point as well as a great citizen stand point. There is going to be talent out there after final cuts.
After final cuts, nearly almost 1200 players will be cut and they will be available to other teams. At this point teams are scrambling to see if there is someone on the market that they can use. There is talent out there, but can they be fit into a maximum 53-man roster. They have to figure out if this player can work with the types of schemes that the team runs. You can't bring in a 3-4 outside linebacker and in hopes of playing in a 4-3 defense. All pictures have got to be looked at. Players need at least an off-season to learn how to play a new position. For instance DeMarcus Ware is learning to be a defensive end, after playing outside linebacker is whole career in Dallas. Its not a smooth transition from standing up, to now being in a down stance. Once a team decides f they can use them, the player has to come in and pass a physical as well as sleep with the playbook. If the person is on the field on opening day, that person may look lost because they haven't had the time to learn everything. This hurts the team as well.
A good tough decision that has to be could me made is, if a team has a lot of depth at certain positions, do you trade them or release them? If a team is stacked at a couple of positions and light on others, does a GM make the decision on trading away depth to try and fill the holes. A team can't have seven cornerbacks. So why not make trades to get good talent back in return. Teams may need cornerbacks and if their stacked at defensive line-men, you're swapping talent for talent, because you won't be able to sign everyone to the practice squad if they even make it that far. (I'll explain the Scout team later) They may get swooped up by another team. Although sometimes teams are hit with the injury bug and the depth comes in handy. I mean look at Green Bay when they won the Super Bowl in 2010. They placed 15 people on injury reserve that year and had people to come in and feel that role without missing a beat. Depth is good, but being thinner somewhere else is worse. So I say trade the over-stacked depth at one positioned and up-grade the depth at another position. The practice-squad or scout team is another option, if available. Teams can have a maximum of eight players on the practice-squad, varied from different position. Usually rookies or un-drafted free agents are eligible and they can't be on the practice squad longer than three years. They can be brought up to the current roster and they can also negotiate with other teams while on the practice squad and be moved to their active 53-man roster.
So with positions needing to be filled with depth, GMs and coaches are searching for the best people out there to man their roster. Whether it be players on their team or players on the open-market from cuts. If players are drafted high and hasn't performed well in camp or in the pre-season games, they usually make the team. Regardless if they can't help the team this season. No one wants to give up on a high draft pick early in their career. Players who are usually cut are undrafted free agents and veterans; washed up or making to much money, they can find themselves on the outside looking in. This is the hardest job of the GM. Looking to see if their draft picks are panning out and who else can come in and make the team better. Deep teams are the ones who usually go far, but its usually at more than one position. The thing is figuring out how many players is a team going to keep at a certain position. Maybe eight line-men or six receivers that have to add up to 53. Decisions, decisions, decisions.