‘Worst 72 hours of the job’ is how Mike McCarthy refers to Cowboys’ cuts

Roster cuts are an unavoidable part of the job in the NFL. Teams like the Cowboys are required to cut down from 90 players to 53 by 4 p.m. ET on Tuesday. As one could imagine, a 40 percent roster reduction isn’t just stressful for the players, but also the team. Which players to keep and which to cut loose is an exercise in fortune telling as well as restraint.

Most players have NFL potential, but not all will realize that potential. It’s up to Mike McCarthy and staff to determine who they think will develop and then to assess whether or not it’s feasible given their immediate needs.

Coming off two consecutive 12-win seasons, expectations are high for the Cowboys. Dallas can’t afford to focus solely on potential because the window is open now. Simply put, they need players who can contribute now and can’t afford to waste too many roster spots on developmental players.

At the same time, they can’t be so near-sighted they miss out on players who could be great down the road. In 2018, the Cowboys famously gave up on CB Charvarius Ward, trading him for OL Parker Ehinger when they realized their short-term needs were greatest on their OL.

Ehinger never panned out in Dallas while Ward went on to be a Super Bowl starter with the Chiefs. That’s one the Cowboys wish they had back, and an example of what NFL front offices are dealing with this time of year.

“This is probably the worst 72 hours of the job,” McCarthy said following the Cowboys final preseason game. “That’s what’s in front of us.”

Coming off a successful season with very few free agent losses, roster spots are fairly limited in Dallas. Most starting positions have been long established and even many back-up and rotational roles are locked in with veterans.

Good players are going to get cut and not everyone they cut will make it onto the practice squad. Lesser teams are going to keep a watchful eye on Dallas’ decisions and vulture away some fan favorites.

The latest 53-man roster projection predicts some big moves and surprises. No matter which way it’s sliced, roster cuts are going to be controversial, which explains the stress McCarthy is experiencing.

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Story originally appeared on Cowboys Wire