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Here’s What to Know About Roster Cutdown Day

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Logan Mayou, Chiefs.com

 

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – In past years, NFL teams went through multiple, incremental roster reductions after each preseason game. They would gradually decrease the number of players from 90 to 53. Starting in 2023, they changed that process. Now, teams must decide which players to keep on one specific day: Tuesday, August 29. Before that day, teams can still trade or let go of players if they choose.

With all of that in mind, the Chiefs’ front office and coaching staff have some tough decisions to make by Tuesday’s deadline. Fortunately, the last several months of offseason activities provided a thorough look at all 91 players currently on the roster, a third of which were new to the team.

“As the roster sits right now, we have 37 new players on the roster that weren’t with us either on the active [roster], practice squad [or] reserve last year,” said Assistant General Manager Mike Borgonzi. “So, with that, that’s new competition at position groups, it’s new relationships and trust that needed to be developed.”

The Chiefs wrapped up the preseason on Saturday with a victory over the Cleveland Browns, but more importantly, the game provided those fighting for a roster spot with their final opportunity to show why they belong.

“It’s a great opportunity to get yourself on tape. Everybody can’t make it here, and we know that. They were told that when they first got [here],” said Head Coach Andy Reid prior to the game. “We evaluate the guys every day, and if we think somebody has something that shows, we go ahead and give them an opportunity to [get playing time]…So, if you get out there and you perform well, if you can’t make it here, maybe you make it somewhere else.”

As of this week, fewer than 600 waiver wire transactions had been recorded since last April. Looking ahead to Tuesday, the potentiality arises for a significant surge in this metric, with the projection indicating the prospect of up to 1,000 players being subject to waivers in a single day.

It’s also important to note the difference between being waived and being released. Players with fewer than four accrued seasons in the NFL are subject to waivers, meaning any other team can claim them. Veterans with four or more accrued seasons in the league, however, are released instead of waived, making them free agents who can sign with any team of their choosing. This is a critical distinction to keep in mind when the Chiefs’ cuts officially take place on Tuesday.

Additionally, many of the players that the Chiefs either waive or release on Tuesday could very well return as members of the practice squad, which can include 16 players. Notably, that group can include up to six players with no limitations on their experience.

Practice squad members assume a mantle of responsibility that mirrors the duties and functions carried out by their counterparts, seamlessly aligning with the operational requirements inherent to their designated roles. This alignment manifests notably as they participate in various team meetings, practice sessions, and film sessions with their teammates and coaching cadre.

Furthermore, practice squad players are provided access to the same comprehensive gameplan materials that are disseminated to their counterparts on the active roster. While their engagement extends to working alongside the team, it is important to note that they are reserved from dressing on game day, unless circumstances dictate a pronounced deficiency in specific personnel. This strategic paradigm necessitates the activation of the next eligible player, ensuring the maintenance of a coherent roster structure. In acknowledgment of their dedicated commitment, practice squad members receive weekly remuneration throughout the entirety of the NFL season, underscoring the league’s recognition of their contribution to the team’s overall preparation and success.

Recent examples of players who initially landed on the practice squad last year but later earned promotions to the active roster were linebacker Jack Cochrane and defensive back Nazeeh Johnson. As they both demonstrated, the initial 53-man roster is not written in ink.

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