Preparing for cutdown day
As teams prepare to pare their rosters on Saturday, I’ll be preparing to counsel any of my released players, place them and make sure they land on their feet after the dust has settled.
An agent can’t prevent a team from cutting a client, but he can prepare to make some moves to ensure the player finds a good landing spot.
For any of my rookies or players who I suspect might be on the bubble, I’ll call my front office contacts this week to get a reading on their fate. By now, most teams have a good idea what their 53-man roster will be. There will be about three to five players per team who may be heavily debated in late-night meetings, but there’s no clear sense who will get the eight practice squad spots.
I’ll ask my team contact to give me an idea of where my client will end up. By doing this, I might get a sense of what the team’s intentions are. If I feel my client won’t make the roster or practice squad, I’ll start talking to other teams. For a player who was undrafted, I’ll pull out the list of teams that tried to sign him after the draft. I also might call teams that my client played well against in the preseason. The goal is to be proactive and make sure he has a roster spot when all is said and done.
Part of my job as an agent is to keep the players focused during the last week before cutdowns. It’s easy for players to start counting everybody on the team, rank the depth chart and figure out who’s staying and who’s going. But once a player starts doing this, he loses focus and starts worrying about actions he has no control over.
I tell my players to never play the numbers game. Focus on execution and responsibility, and don’t count reps -- but make every rep count.
To keep their spirits up and give them an understanding of the process, I tell them about Pro Bowl cornerback Al Harris, who was cut twice by Tampa Bay and eventually picked up by the Eagles and coach Ray Rhodes, who embraced his style of play. I tell them about sixth-round pick DT Kelly Gregg of the Ravens, who was cut by the Bengals and told by one of their personnel directors that he would “never play in the NFL.” He was also cut by the Eagles, which gave us a chance to reunite him with his college coach, Rex Ryan of the Ravens. I remind them that Pro Bowl punter Mat McBriar was cut twice before landing with the Cowboys. And I remind them that I stuck with and fought for DE Stylez G. White (formerly Greg White) through five cuts before landing him in Tampa.
Good players will find their way back to a roster. A lot times, they end up in situations that may be better suited to them. This weekend’s cutdown can be the end of the road for some, but I try to make it more like a speed bump.
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