The NFL should liven up the roster cuts. Tim Bradbury/Getty Images
In the third quarter of Saturday afternoon’s preseason game against the Texans, the Rams had a 3rd and goal from the 15-yard line. Running back John Kelly took a handoff and ran behind the left guard, through the Texans’ defense and into the end zone. At least two to three defenders missed tackles. It wasn’t the missed tackles that got me; it was the perceived lack of effort.
I posted a tweet that read: “#Texans should cut those two guys who missed those tackles right now. Hand them plane tickets and call an Uber.” Not long after posting that, I began to think: what if the annual roster cut-down from 90 to 53, plus the 10 man practice squad, was done reality show style? What if guys were cut on the spot in practices and/or games? HBO’s Hard Knocks gives us some insight as to how cuts are made every training camp. But what if we spiced it up a bit? Here are some ideas I came up with:
“The Player:” In a Bachelor or Bachelorette style program, potential roster cuts are made known when guys come back into the locker room after practices or preseason games and finds his locker cleared out. That, or nothing but a black rose is in place of his belongings. Imagine the interviews with the guys who are cut that thought they secured a roster spot. The “reunion show” could be a where are they now programmed on Pro Bowl weekend. Guarantee this would get better ratings than the Pro Bowl itself.
Pickup game style: Some of the worst feelings as a kid was either not getting picked to play, or being the last pick when no one else is left to even out the teams. It’d be interesting to see teams fill out their final roster by calling out the names of the guys who made the team and handing them a jersey. The guys who are cut will receive an envelope with a thank you letter and a blank one-way plane ticket.
“The Ultimate Roster Spot Challenge:” It seems as if roster spots often come down to a numbers game. Coaching staffs have different preferences. Some keep three quarterbacks, some opt for two. Most of the 53-man roster is set and only the last handful of spots are up for grabs. What if the final spots are determined through a series of drills and challenges? Sure, the potential ninth offensive lineman can’t compete in a 40-yard dash with the potential sixth cornerback. But we could develop a point system based on drills, practice performance, preseason game play, and have coaches vote be final determining factor. Players will get an envelope with either a pink slip, or contract that’ll get opened in front of everyone in final team meeting one by one.
Too long NFL has stood for “No Fun League.” Hard Knocks has pulled back the curtain some. Allowing more celebrations has made it more enjoyable as well. Although the rules changes and anthem protest unrest has made it unbearable at times, there’s potential for growth in the appeal of the game. Roger Goodell, if you’re reading this, send me a tweet so we can discuss this, and my payout.
Per The Athletic's Chandler Rome, Framber Valdez plans on both he and the catcher calling pitches this year. He said he “wants to feel more comfortable,” adding “not that I don't feel comfortable with the catchers, but I want to feel comfortable and throw the pitches with more conviction…to feel like I have the game in my hands.”
Framber Valdez has the PitchCom device on his glove as he warms up before the first inning in West Palm Beach. Yainer Diaz is catching him today. https://t.co/tqgmzwfN7r
— Chandler Rome (@Chandler_Rome) March 1, 2024
Is that a good thing? Either way, it seems like a return to form for Framber Valdez is the biggest “what if” for the 2024 Houston Astros.
Be sure to watch the video above as ESPN Houston's Paul Gallant & Joe George discuss.