Every year, in the early days of September, thousands of players around the NFL have their hopes dashed as they're sent packing from the team they've been a part of all summer long.
Some of these guys will never see an NFL field again. Some might catch on elsewhere. Some are guys nobody would recognize on the street, and some are superstars—even sure-fire Hall of Famers.
That's simply the harsh reality of the NFL.
Getting cut, however, does not mean that player is without talent. We've seen the same story play out of the guy who got cut over and over and over just to find the right situation and turn into a star.
Sometimes, it just comes down to numbers; the smallest variable can send a guy with a lot of talent and untapped potential walking out the door.
For the Philadelphia Eagles, they could wind up letting go of a lot of those guys.
Every team has those guys they hate to cut loose, but the Eagles seem to have an excess at nearly every position across the board and could really flood the free-agent market with a lot of discarded talent.
The first wave of cuts already forced the team to part ways with some notable talent.
First, there was the trade that sent Moise Fokou and Greg Lloyd to the Indianapolis Colts. Make no mistake, those guys were traded because the team felt they were deep at linebacker and accepted they would have to part ways with those guys anyway, so why not get something for them?
The talent acquired in that trade, cornerback Kevin Thomas, has gotten the boot as well. He's not a well-known commodity but he's started some games in the NFL.
Most recently, the Eagles cut two-time Pro Bowl punter Mat McBriar.
Yes, he's a punter, but still.
Also of note is Cliff Harris, a former All-American in college and a guy who showed flashes of starting-level talent. Harris, unfortunately, was unable to stay healthy and prove his worth during the preseason.
Tom Nelson, the guy the team signed to replace the injured Colt Anderson last season, has also been let go.
The Eagles are currently carrying four quarterbacks, and there's no way they keep more than three.
Kafka has earned rave reviews from the coaching staff in the past. A former fourth-round pick of the team, he has shown some ability in spot duty.
Edwards was out of football all of last season but is a former second-round pick who showed enough talent for the Buffalo Bills to invest a great deal of time and trust in him as their franchise player. Personally, I thought he had the individual talent but was misused and took a beating thanks to the talent void around him.
Edwards has played extremely well for the Eagles in the preseason and has likely earned a spot somewhere in the league.
With Edwards slated to play three quarters in the Eagles' final preseason game, it seems as though Andy Reid has already decided to cut him loose, but is doing him a favor and allowing him one more shot to audition for the rest of the league.
Like the quarterbacks, there are two guys with roster spots locked up—LeSean McCoy and Dion Lewis. That leaves three guys fighting for two spots.
Bryce Brown and Chris Polk are fighting it out for the last running back spot, and Stanley Havili seems to be fighting against himself at fullback.
As of now, the Eagles say they have no plans to move Polk to fullback in order to keep the promising running back, but that could be semantics. The plan could simply be to keep four guys listed as running backs and not have anyone listed as a fullback.
Considering the Eagles used a fullback about four times last season, it would make some sense.
On the other hand, it's something Reid has never done. Even though he doesn't use one very often, he's always kept a fullback on the roster. If he sticks by history, that spot will go to Havili and Polk will be left out in the cold.
Either way, there will be a talented back hitting the open market.
Again, there are two locks at tight end—Brent Celek and Clay Harbor.
There was talk that Harbor's job could be at stake, but I think that was mainly to give people something to talk about. I have personally never felt as though Harbor was in any real danger of getting cut.
Brett Brackett and Chase Ford, however, are in serious danger of getting the axe.
Ford is in more than serious danger, actually. He's just waiting until the team has to make it official to send him packing, even though he's looked good as a blocker. Brackett, however, is making things interesting.
Reid only kept two tight ends last year and appeared ready to do the same thing this season until the former Penn State wide receiver started to catch on to this whole tight-end business.
Brackett has looked impressive during camps and in the preseason, and it only gets better when you consider this is the first time he's playing tight end.
At the NFL level, no less.
I think only Celek and Harbor stick around, but Brackett should be able to find a new home with relative ease as he's worth the time as a project for someone who has the roster space.
Jeremy Maclin, DeSean Jackson, Jason Avant and Damaris Johnson are locks. The rest of the guys are up in the air.
Coming in to the season, it looked like Riley Cooper would be a lock for the final roster, but a broken collarbone—and a subpar camp even up until that point—has cast some serious doubt on his future with the team.
Marvin McNutt, the team's sixth-round pick, is a big guy who had a very impressive camp. Once the preseason started, however, he's nowhere to be found.
Mardy Gilyard, a very, very quiet signing this offseason has had his moments. He looks fast and made some nice grabs, but I'm not sure he's shown enough to make the roster.
Then there's Chad Hall—a guy I absolutely love—who just refuses to go away. Just when you think he has no shot, the little engine that could just keeps on trucking and plugging away.
Between the four guys mentioned, it's likely three of them hit the streets during the final cuts. Each one of these guys could catch on elsewhere with a team needing some talent on the back-end of its receiving corps.
The offensive line is a bit tricky. There could be some talent exiting the NovaCare Complex, but it's hard to see who that could be.
Guys like Dallas Reynolds and Steve Vallos could get their walking papers. Both guys would likely find their way on to someone's roster, but it's unlikely either guy would do much contributing.
The name to watch could be Demetress Bell.
Bell got a long-term deal to be Jason Peters' (hopefully short-term) replacement, but it's become obvious very quickly that he does not fit Howard Mudd's blocking scheme. He doesn't have the footwork or the athleticism to pull it off and has already found himself warming the bench in favor of King Dunlap.
Even though the team signed Bell to a long-term deal, it essentially turns into several one-year deals as the guaranteed money is minimal. However, if they decide to keep Bell on the roster, his pay is going to go up very quickly and will probably hit the "too much for a backup" level rather quickly.
If he's released, Bell could find his way onto a run-first team with more of a big-on-big blocking style that will allow him to be more of a road-grater.
My guess is the Eagles keep a combined 10 defensive linemen. There are currently 11 guys with a shot at the final roster: Trent Cole, Jason Babin, Brandon Graham, Phillip Hunt, Vinny Curry, Cullen Jenkins, Derek Landri, Antonio Dixon and Fletcher Cox are absolute locks. Those guys have played their way to a spot without a doubt.
That leaves two other guys who have both played extremely well: Darryl Tapp and Cedric Thornton. But with the numbers the way they are, it's unlikely they are both on the opening day roster.
What I think happens here is Tapp gets traded. He's played extremely well and there is almost certainly a team out there who will want another edge rusher. His salary, roughly $2.6 million, is a bit much for the Eagles to justify for someone who is probably their fifth defensive end should he stick around.
It makes much more sense for them to keep the young and promising Thornton.
They should trade Tapp, get what they can, shed his salary and allow him to try and start elsewhere rather than being buried behind a ton of talent in Philly.
DeMeco Ryans, Mychal Kendricks and Akeem Jordan are the starters. Brian Rolle, Jamar Chaney and Casey Matthews are the backups.
That means six spots at linebacker are taken. That also means there are none left.
The guy on the outside looking in is Keenan Clayton. He really showed up on special teams, but he has never been able to really fit in as a linebacker after coming to the Eagles as a tweener linebacker/safety in college.
Clayton should stick elsewhere because of how well he plays in the third phase of the game, but there's just no room for him on this roster.
At corner, Nnamdi Asomugha, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Brandon Boykin are guaranteed to survive cut day.
Joselio Hanson and Curtis Marsh, in my estimation, have a 95 percent chance of surviving as well.
That's five corners for what will probably only be five spots. If the corners are set, that means Brandon Hughes and Trevard Lindley are left looking for work. Hughes is a good special teams guy and could help out at corner in a pinch, and Lindley has earned praise for a "good, quiet camp."
There's a good chance both guys bounce back elsewhere, but nothing is guaranteed for either of them.
Should the team decide to keep six corners, I think Lindley is the surprise to get the nod.
At safety, Kurt Coleman and Nate Allen will start.
Who will back them up? Good question.
The veteran O.J. Atogwe was signed in the offseason, but can you remember him making a play this preseason? Neither can I. There had been questions as to whether or not Atogwe had seen a decline of epic proportions in the talent department, and it's looking like that could very well be the case.
Then there's Jaiquawn Jarrett. To say he's been disappointing wouldn't even begin to describe his young career, but I don't believe the team is ready to give up on him just yet.
Phillip Thomas, an undrafted free agent, could be the surprise here. If Atogwe really has lost it, Thomas could be the pick to take his roster spot.
On the other hand, both Thomas and Atogwe could lose out to a different veteran safety—perhaps a guy who loses a numbers game somewhere else.
Should that scenario play out, Thomas could find his way to the practice squad.
And Atogwe could find his way into retirement.
Chas Henry will do the punting, Alex Henery will do the kicking, and Jon Dorenbos will do the long-snapping.
McBriar could get some looks elsewhere since, as mentioned before, he is a two-time Pro Bowler.