Like you do before you smoke a beef brisket you trim off the fat. The next 24 hours NFL teams are at the table and trimming the fat, or in this case, the 53 man roster. This time of year each team has an assigned individual (maybe the pro director, pro scout, scouting assistants or I’ve seen personnel interns) retrieve the player, or players, that the head coach has requested. This person is better known as the ‘turk.’ While the vets have been through the process and know who this person is, the new players (drafted rookies, college and street free agents) have eyes wide open if they are on the bubble. If you stay in the game long enough, veterans also experience this feeling of the grim reaper coming around the corner, with the most infamous words this time of year in every NFL lockerroom, “hey coach wants to see you and bring your playbook.”
Teams already trimmed their rosters from 90 to 75, the first cut is more or less camp legs that are no longer needed, and maybe a surprise or two of big name veterans who’s services are no longer needed. Some teams choose to make small incremental adjustments by cutting a few players prior to the 3rd preseason game. Several clubs make some cuts after the 3rd preseason game and most work towards the deadline with a 10-15 player list and do it all at once.
Clubs are responsible to list a player in the following categories when cutting the team from 90 to 75 and on the final cut to 53. When a team releases a player it is called “waived”. The categories players fall into are:
Injury Settlement – A team has a player on IR on the preseason roster if he has struggled to perform because of nagging injuries. Both sides negotiate and agree to a cash settlement in exchange for releasing that player from his contractual agreement.
Terminated Vested Veterans – A player with four our more years of service is considered a vested veteran.
Reserve /PUP – Reserve/PUP (physically unable to perform) – Player on this list on week one must sit out the first six game before a team must decide to add the player to the 53 man roster by making room for the player.
Reserve/Suspension – Player that must serve a league mandated suspension from the commissioner and sits out the number of suspended games.
Reserve /Injured – NFL teams use the reserve so they can keep a player on the team but not take up a roster spot. The NFL’s injured reserve rule restricts a player from returning to the active roster in the same year.
It’s almost time to get down to business, as the 2015 NFL season kicks off in New England on Thursday September 10th when the Steelers travel to face the Patriots. There may be a late addition or two. Once teams cut to 53, most rosters are set and teams are focused on week one, planning and creating game plans for all three phases. Others work to add additional players to help build the back end of the roster if needed and working the trade phones are always a strong possibility. Coaches and personnel staffs have worked hard to gauge their players’ talent, conditioning and analyzing who fits the scheme the best while playing with passion, desire and competitiveness. If you’re not on top of your game by now, the ‘turk’ will find you.