CINCINNATI — The next two days are extremely difficult for the Indianapolis Colts and general manager Chris Ballard — and in many ways.
With tonight's preseason finale against the Cincinnati Bengals now officially in the rearview mirror, the team essentially has less than two days to decide how it is going to cut down its roster from 90 players to its 53-man, regular-season version.
From a strictly business standpoint, the difficulty of these decisions comes down to not only judging which 53 players give you the best chance at immediately winning football games, but also trying to figure out if any of the 1,100-plus players also being let go by other teams by the 4 p.m. ET deadline on Saturday are candidates to try to sign by Sunday's noon deadline.
Any new players, of course, have to be ideal fits both on the field and in the locker room and, for the most part, need to be able to learn the team's systems quickly to be able to play the following week.
But from a personal standpoint, Ballard said, Saturday's roster cuts are "the hardest part of the job."
"It's the absolute most difficult part of the job, is saying goodbye to guys that you know have worked for you, some of them for years, some of them for the last four months," Ballard said Wednesday at the Colts' annual Kickoff Luncheon.
"They've given everything that you've asked them to give, and we've got to make decisions and we have to move on from 'em," he continued. "That's very difficult."
Here's a quick look at the timeline all 32 teams across the league are facing this Labor Day weekend:
• Saturday: Prior to 4:00 p.m., New York time, clubs must reduce rosters to a maximum of 53 players on the Active/Inactive List. Simultaneously with the cut-down to 53, clubs that have players in the categories of Active/Physically Unable to Perform or Active/Non-Football Injury or Illness must select one of the following options: place player on Reserve/Physically Unable to Perform or Reserve/Non-Football Injury or Illness, whichever is applicable; request waivers; terminate contract; trade contract; or continue to count the player on the Active List.
• Sunday: Claiming period for players placed on waivers at the final roster reduction will expire at 12:00 noon, New York time. Also, upon receipt of the Personnel Notice at approximately 1:00 p.m., New York time, clubs may establish a Practice Squad of 10 players. No club, including the player's prior club, will be permitted to sign a player to a Practice Player Contract until all clubs have received simultaneous notification via the above Personnel Notice that such player's prior NFL Player Contract has been terminated via the waiver system.