While the NFL's final cut-down day prior to the regular season often involves little-known rookies and journeymen being handed their walking papers, it isn't uncommon for players with big-time name recognition to be released as well.
It is inevitable that a few such players will be cut on Saturday, which is when teams must trim their rosters down to 53. There are obviously plenty of players who know that they are safe, but having a false sense of security is extremely dangerous this time of year as seemingly-safe players are ambushed on a fairly regular basis.
Here are three big-name players that are currently battling for a roster spot, but will ultimately fall short and be left to scramble for a job elsewhere prior to the start of the regular season.
New England Patriots quarterback Tim Tebow is one of the most-talked-about players in the entire NFL, but even if he manages to make the Pats roster, he won't be anything more than a third stringer. Even so, there is a lot of intrigue surrounding his status.
After his nightmarish season with the New York Jets last year, it was unclear if he would ever play in the NFL again. If Tebow is unable to make New England's roster, then it's entirely possible that his NFL fate will be sealed for good.
If Tebow does make the team, it will likely be due to his character as well as what he was able to accomplish with the Denver Broncos and at the University of Florida. Tebow was not used in the Patriots' third preseason game against the Detroit Lions, and he looked awful in the previous two as he completed just 26 percent of his passes for 54 yards and an interception.
Despite his struggles, Patriots owner Robert Kraft is pulling for Tebow to make the team, according to FOX Sports: NFL.
As of right now, the owner's endorsement probably won't even be enough to save Tebow. New England didn't need a third quarterback last season, so head coach Bill Belichick isn't likely to have any reservations about keeping just two this year. Tom Brady is about as durable as a quarterback can possibly be, and Ryan Mallett has shown some skills as well, so Tebow is going to need some divine intervention in order to make the roster at this point.
When the San Diego Chargers signed wide receiver Robert Meachem to a four-year, $25.9 million deal last offseason, they believed that they had found quarterback Philip Rivers' new go-to target.
Meachem was an unequivocal bust during his first season with the Chargers, though, as he caught just 14 passes for 207 yards and two touchdowns. He was so bad, in fact, that it would be somewhat of a shock to see him on San Diego's Week 1 roster.
Meachem was extremely productive as the New Orleans Saints' fourth option in the passing game, but he was unable to become the focal point of the Bolts' offense. Meachem had the freedom to constantly run deep routes in New Orleans, and it worked for him as he racked up 620 or more yards and five or more touchdowns in three consecutive seasons.
Those statistics are little more than a memory now as Chargers head coach Mike McCoy doesn't even trust Meachem enough to play him early in preseason games, according to Michael Gehlken of the San Diego Union-Tribune.
Mike McCoy on Robert Meachem not playing until third quarter: "We're doing what we think is best for the football team."— Michael Gehlken (@UTgehlken) August 25, 2013
As much as the old regime was disgusted with Meachem, the new regime has to dislike him even more. The one thing that could prevent it from cutting him is the $5 million he would be owed, but Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune believes that Meachem should be released regardless due to the notion that his body is breaking down.
Even though Danario Alexander is out for the season and Malcom Floyd is a bit banged up as well, it is abundantly clear that the Chargers have absolutely no confidence in Meachem's capability to contribute.
Which big-name player is most likely to be cut prior to the regular season?
Perhaps the most surprising name on the bubble as cut day approaches is Oakland Raiders quarterback Tyler Wilson. There was talk entering training camp that the fourth-round rookie could potentially challenge Matt Flynn for the starting job this season, but Terrelle Pryor blasted past him on the depth chart, so taking the No. 3 spot is his only hope. Even that seems like a difficult proposition now, though, due to the fine play of undrafted free-agent Matt McGloin.
According to Vic Tafur of the San Francisco Chronicle, McGloin has assumed the No. 3 job for the time being, so Wilson may have to rely upon his draft status to save him. As a junior at Arkansas, Wilson threw for nearly 3,700 yards and 24 touchdowns in the difficult SEC. He was considered a potential first-round pick, but an inconsistent, injury-plagued 2012 cost him in a big way.
Wilson was supposed to receive some playing time in Oakland's third preseason game, according to Scott Bair of CSNCalifornia.com, but head coach Dennis Allen stuck with the hot hand in McGloin.
Tyler Wilson was supposed to see a series last night. Allen stuck with McGloin. Wilson hasn't played since week 1. Clearly behind.— Scott Bair (@BairCSN) August 25, 2013
McGloin never showed any real ability until his senior year at Penn State, so it's amazing to think that he could potentially beat out Wilson. Based on how things have played out during the preseason, though, it's a very real possibility. Wilson's opportunities have been few and far between due to the focus on the battle for the starting job between Flynn and Pryor, and that has certainly hurt him.
If Wilson does get released, the probability is quite high that some team will take a chance on him as a third quarterback, so he'll land on his feet.
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