Twice within the next week, every NFL team must perform the equivalent of a corporate layoff. Teams have just completed the first layoff by reducing roster sizes from 90 to 75. The second layoff, a roster reduction to 53, will come next week before the NFL season kicks off.
That's when many qualified players, for whom there's no room on the depth chart, receive their pink slips.
This annual ritual must be a strain for all concerned. Imagine being a CEO and knowing that one of your annual rituals is to assemble a workforce almost twice as big as what you need. Then you must reduce it by 41 percent before production starts. You get to recall around 22 percent of those released to fill a more limited role.
Some of those released will find new teams, which then must let others go to accommodate to the new signees. However, the net result is that 1,184 men who were NFL players in April will not be on an NFL team by Week 1. Of those men, 256 can sustain their dream by accepting a practice-squad role. The remaining 928 will need to find work in a different, less lucrative league or pursue a new profession.
It's not easy to tell any person that he or she has lost his job. However, it's easier to give the bad news to some than others. The first layoff of 480 will involve players whose performance made their elimination relatively easy.
The second layoff of 704 can be more of a numbers game.
That's when teams are more likely to make cuts because of an abundance of qualified players at one or more positions.
Even more talent-strapped NFL franchises face this predicament. It is thought that the 2013 New York Jets suffer from a lack of overall talent, but they too have players who will be victimized by the numbers game. Amazingly, the wide receiver position, thought to be New York's primary weakness at the beginning of preseason, will see quality players released.
Before viewing some potential victims of the next Jets layoff, it seems appropriate to pay tribute to an early casualty, Braylon Edwards. Edwards was a key component of the Jets offense in 2009 and 2010. When he returned for the last three games of 2012, his 10 catches for 125 yards provided glimpses of his old form, especially since eight of those catches resulted in first downs.
However, that may have been Edwards' swan song as a Jet. He returned to training camp and played in two preseason games, making five catches for 72 yards. But Edwards' production came playing with and against reserves. Plus, a leg injury kept him out of the game with the Giants. The result was that he was part of the first round of roster reductions.
While younger receivers like Ryan Spadola show promise, Jets fans will miss Edwards and the era that he represents. Thank you Braylon. Best of luck.
It's time to meet some of those who might join you.
- New York Jets' Roster, Depth Chart and Basic Statistics: New York Jets' Team Pages
- Player Grades and Advanced Statistics: ProFootballFocus.com (requires paid subscription)
- Preseason Game Play-by-Play, Statistics: ESPN ScoreCenter
- Released Players: NFL Roster Cuts Tracker