"Cut day," the day when each NFL team must pare its roster down to 53 players, is considered one of the toughest days on the league calendar. Harsh decisions need to be made in the best interest of the franchise. Some dreams die, while others continue to live on. It's the nature of the beast.
There were a number of surprises in the wave of 2013 NFL roster cuts, but before we get to them, let's discuss a move that wasn't particularly surprising.
That's because Tebow was absolutely wretched in the preseason, throwing grotesque passes and generally looking like someone who shouldn't be playing quarterback at the game's highest level. The transaction probably brings Tebow's topsy-turvy yet incredibly entertaining NFL career to a close, although it's hard to imagine we've heard the last from him.
Now, on to the biggest surprises from the 2013 NFL roster cuts:
When Steelers rookie running back Le'Veon Bell went down in the preseason with a foot injury, it appeared Pittsburgh would once again turn to the pu-pu platter of Isaac Redman and Jonathan Dwyer to fill the void in the backfield.
Dwyer is a serviceable player who looked good in the preseason. He'll probably find work with another team.
As for the Steelers, this transaction likely bodes well for Bell's recovery, as he recently ditched his walking boot. It's unlikely that the team would have cut Dwyer if Bell were to be out for an extended period of time.
Running back Felix Jones, acquired in a recent trade with the Philadelphia Eagles, made the 53-man roster.
When the Packers released quarterback Graham Harrell last week, it seemed to bode well for the chances of fellow quarterback Vince Young to make the team and secure the primary backup job behind starter Aaron Rodgers.
But in a surprise, Green Bay released Young on Saturday less than a month after bringing him to Titletown, per Rob Demovsky of ESPN. While Young reportedly wants to continue pursuing his NFL career, according to Ian Rapoport (NFL.com), it's hard to imagine that happening. This was likely the death knell for one of the most unfulfilled careers in recent memory.
The move leaves B.J. Coleman as the only quarterback behind Rodgers. More than likely, the Packers' backup signal-caller is not yet on the roster.
The Oakland Raiders are going to be one of the worst teams in football in 2013. The roster just doesn't have much depth or quality.
That made their decision to keep four quarterbacks and two punters, reported by Josh Dubow of the Associacted Press (via Yahoo! Sports), even more curious.
Oakland's quarterback situation is a mess. Matt Flynn was signed to be the starter, but he has once again failed to impress in the offseason and preseason. It now appears that Terrelle Pryor has the inside track on the starting job.
Fourth-round pick Tyler Wilson was originally thought to be talented enough to challenge Flynn and Pryor, but he didn't play in the second or third games of the preseason and was outperformed by undrafted free agent Matt McGloin, who also made the roster.
It's supremely unlikely that the team will opt to keep all four quarterbacks into the season, so this is a situation to monitor.
As for the punters? Apparently, coach Dennis Allen couldn't choose between Chris Kluwe and Marquette King, and as of now, both players are currently on the roster.
There's a chance that general manager Reggie McKenzie will look to move one in a trade, but it's unlikely they'd receive a draft pick as compensation. Look for one to be released at some point before the team travels to Indianapolis for its Week 1 showdown against the Colts.
And if worst comes to worst, the Raiders can keep both Kluwe and King. After all, they'll be punting a lot this season.
UPDATE: The Raiders have decided to cut their losses on Wilson. ESPN.com reports the team cut ties with both Wilson and veteran punter Chris Kluwe Sunday afternoon.
According to the report, "In corresponding moves, Oakland claimed guard Antoine McClain from the Baltimore Ravens and defensive tackle Brian Sanford from the Cleveland Browns."
The Seattle Seahawks possess one of the deepest and most talented rosters in all of football. Their embarrassment of riches affords general manager John Schneider and coach Pete Carroll the opportunity to make unorthodox decisions.
The team made two on Saturday with the release of veteran cornerback Antoine Winfield and its fourth-round pick from April's draft, wide receiver Chris Harper, as listed on NFL.com.
Winfield played well last season in Minnesota and is one of the best tackling corners of this generation. According to Jay Glazer of Fox Sports, he will retire instead of looking to latch on with another team, ending the career of one of the most underrated players of the last 15 years.
As for Harper? He failed to dazzle in the offseason, and because the Seattle roster is so loaded, the team doesn't feel obligated to keep players just because they were drafted.
It appears that Jermaine Kearse, an undrafted receiver from 2012's draft, is the biggest beneficiary of Harper's release. He flashed throughout the preseason and made the club. Kearse is definitely a player to keep an eye on, particularly given fellow receiver Percy Harvin's injury status.
Since coming into the league in 2010, New England Patriots punter Zoltan Mesko has been one of the better players in the league at his position. That's why it's surprising that the team opted to cut him on Saturday, as the Boston Globe staff reported.
The transaction may have had more to do with economics than on-field performance. Mesko, who was released in favor of undrafted rookie punter Ryan Allen, was scheduled to make $1.3 million in 2013, while Allen will play for the rookie minimum of $405,000.
Expect Mesko to catch on elsewhere. Perhaps Oakland will come calling for him, adding a third punter to its roster.
Just kidding, Raiders fans.
Since the team's return to the NFL in 1999, Phil Dawson served as the Browns place-kicker. He had a terrific career in Cleveland before signing with the San Francisco 49ers this offseason.
To replace Dawson, coach Rob Chudzinski opened up a kicking competition between veteran Shayne Graham and rookie Brandon Bogotay.
And at the conclusion of the preseason, the Browns chose neither, opting to cut both.
The moves leave Cleveland without a place-kicker on its roster. While the Browns will assuredly add a kicker before they open up the season against the Miami Dolphins, it's surprising that they held a competition for the entirety of training camp and the preseason and ultimately decided that neither challenger was the right man for the job.
The good news for Browns fans is that there are a number of veteran kickers on the market, including Dan Carpenter and Billy Cundiff.
Earlier in this piece, I analyzed the Raiders' decision to keep four quarterbacks on their roster.
However, they weren't the only team to make that surprising decision. Both the Redskins and Jets kept four quarterbacks as well.
Let's start with the Redskins. Robert Griffin III is the starter, and Kirk Cousins, when healthy, is his unquestioned backup. Rex Grossman is a favorite of coach Mike Shanahan, and with Griffin and Cousins both bitten by the injury bug, he's a valuable commodity on their roster.
What's ultimately surprising in Washington has been Pat White's unlikely resurgence. White is a one-time Dolphins second-round pick who looked like he had completely flamed out of the league. But a solid body of work in the preseason and an intriguing skill set made the Redskins decide to keep him around.
For the Jets, last year's third-stringer, Greg McElroy, was released, and the team kept Mark Sanchez, rookie Geno Smith, Matt Simms and the recently acquired Graham Harrell. This move likely says something about Sanchez's shoulder injury, which might end up keeping him out for a number of weeks.
In March, the Carolina Panthers inked veteran cornerback Drayton Florence to a one-year, $1 million contract hoping he could help to solidify their secondary, which was abysmal in 2012.
Florence won't be getting that opportunity; the team released him on Saturday, per Ian Rapoport of NFL.com. This transaction is surprising because of the contract Florence signed earlier this offseason.
The move suggests that the Panthers are confident in some of their younger cornerbacks, notably second-year player Josh Norman.
While the 32-year-old Florence couldn't make the Panthers, he should be able to latch onto another team fairly quickly.