As Tuesday’s 3 p.m. deadline for finalizing 53-man rosters approaches, NFL players stand at a pivotal juncture. Chiefs’ quarterback Shane Buechele acknowledged the uneasy atmosphere, describing it as a somewhat unsettling day.
Previously, the NFL had multiple cut days, but now it’s a single decisive event. From the end of the final preseason game, which occurred for the Chiefs on Saturday, until Tuesday, the roster reduces from 90 to 53 players. Additionally, teams can maintain a practice squad of up to 16 players.
For stars like Patrick Mahomes and Travis Kelce, the cut day doesn’t bring anxiety. The same may be true for Buechele. However, for Buechele, a third-year professional who spent his first two seasons on the Chiefs’ practice squad or inactive list, the real competition lies in securing the primary backup role against Blaine Gabbert.
Though the Chiefs might retain all three quarterbacks, the uncertainty weighs heavily on players who have yet to step onto an NFL field.
Buechele shared his thoughts a few days before the Chiefs’ final preseason game: “The day is always tough. You never know what’s going to happen. You just hope and pray your performance in the preseason left a positive impression on coach Reid, GM Veach, and everyone in the front office.”
In the recent preseason, Buechele started the game against the Cleveland Browns, throwing a touchdown pass and two interceptions. The previous week, he completed all ten of his pass attempts against the Arizona Cardinals.
Among the mysteries of the Chiefs’ roster decisions is the backup quarterback position. Another question revolves around the number of wide receivers to retain. Could they deviate from the norm and keep as many as seven? Is that number necessary for the team’s requirements?
Coach Reid tends to prioritize tight ends, potentially resulting in the retention of four, despite Jody Forston’s season-ending injury. This could also be an opportunity for Matt Bushman to secure a spot on the 53-man roster.
The determination of the number of running backs (three or four) might depend on La’Mical Perine, the Chiefs’ leading rusher in the preseason.
The starting offensive line is established, with likely top reserves being Nick Allegretti and rookie Wanya Morris. The remaining positions are contested among a group of players.
Defensively, significant questions loom. If Chris Jones’ holdout persists, he will be placed on a “did not report” list and won’t count against the roster. Additionally, end Charles Omenihu faces a six-game suspension. Draft picks Felix Anudike-Uzomah, B.J. Thompson, and Keondre Coburn are expected to be part of the defensive line group, totaling nine or ten players.
Crunching the numbers suggests five linebackers, five safeties, five cornerbacks, and three specialists are needed to reach the final roster of 53.
Ekow Boye-Doe, an undrafted rookie cornerback from Kansas State, shared his approach to decision day: “I just go every day, attack the day. Whatever comes, comes.”
Within the 16-member practice squad, up to ten players may not have accumulated more than two NFL seasons, while the remaining six have no restrictions.
Mahomes expressed his support for fellow players, acknowledging the difficulty of the situation: “I’m rooting for everybody. It’s hard… You don’t want to favor one person over another because this is people’s livelihoods, this is people’s lives.”