Today’s game against the Atlanta Falcons will be the final chance for the Jacksonville Jaguars to assess the talent on their roster before contracting down to 53 players next week. Everyone who has made it to this point in their preseason process has the skills to make it in the NFL, but unfortunately for some, their best won’t be enough.
The drop from 80 players to 53 will be a remarkable burden for both the team and the athletes that make up its component parts. Head coach Doug Pederson is acutely aware of that fact and told the media on Thursday about the challenge of eliminating so many potential playmakers from his team’s pool of talent.
“It’s hard,” He explained of the cut-down process, “It’s the hardest part of our business. Trying to get down from 80 to 53, it’s a lot of guys. You’re affecting a lot of lives. I was one of those guys, six different times released in this league, but again, it’s not that their hopes and dreams are over, it’s just maybe they have to go somewhere else. Then you’ve got practice squad. With the increased practice squad rosters now and the ability to keep some veteran players there really helps keep more athletes, more football players.”
With only so many spots available and a plethora of talented individuals on the current payroll, Pederson is acutely aware that the decisions he and his staff make next week will have implications well beyond the preseason. If the wrong moves are made, especially if injuries end up playing a factor, the consequences could be devastating for the rebuilding Jaguars in 2022.
It’ll take some careful deliberation to get their decisions right but after three preseason games and a little more than a month of intense practices, the staff should have the confidence to get their decisions right the first time without any reservations.