Monday, September 4, 2017

Why NFL Cut Down Day Does Not Matter

Cash That Check
So the Broncos cut a Pro Bowl safety because he was hurt during training camp, expensive during life, and they've got a younger guy they like who played well during the fake games. The safety in question got a new gig in Tampa because he's still good enough to get the next gig, then talked about how unprofessional Denver was for cutting him.

Which is entirely different than the situation in Cleveland, where the Browns cut an aging Pro Bowl cornerback because he's not as good as he used to be, they aren't really planning on winning a whole lot of games this year anyway, and he's expensive during life. Pittsburgh signed that guy because he's still better than what they had, and the Steelers are going all-in to get curb stomped by the Patriots in the least exciting NFL season since the last one.

And Seattle traded a wideout to the Jets for a defensive lineman, and Washington cut its starting running back from last year, and I'd go deeper into the details on all of this, but I think I just microslept while writing this sentence, so I'm kind of amazed you got through the paragraph, too.

Here's the thing about NFL cutdowns; they are a lot like NFL preseason, in that there has never been a moment in your life where anything but a catastrophic injury had more than a half-point of impact to a betting spread. It's just another day on the calendar where Not Game happens, but the NFL gets you to care, because Game is just a fairly rare event, given how short the season is.

The reason why none of this matters is because (a) NFL careers are hysterically short, (b) the prime for such things is mostly unknown due to the inevitability of injury, and (c) the number of players who can actually make a big difference in a game is fairly minute.

So by the time a guy has a brand name, he's pretty much done, and the coaches all know this a lot more than you and me, because they stare down the talent on a daily basis in practice. You and I can fantasize all we like about how we could be GMs, AKA the only job in sports that nonathletic dudes can realistically fantasize about doing, but we don't really have the information, or the statistics.

Need proof? Chris Polk. Polk was a promising RB during the Nero Kelly Era of the Eagles, who combined exceptional speed with size to make a handful of impact plays during his time with the team. Andy Reid signed him during the end times because Polk had injury issues in college that kept him from being a high pick. Kelly got rid of him because he wasn't one of Kelly's draft picks, so that he could keep noted Oregon Duck and Meh RB Kenjon Barner. Barner didn't do a whole lot, Polk went to Houston, and I waited for the latter to join the list of guys that Kelly ran off who had a good career somewhere else.

Polk is now out of the NFL, despite still being only 27. There's no news for him on Google. Barner was in camp with the Chargers, but didn't make the final cut. Neither of them were a real difference maker, both of them never got past fungible, and you will never hear about either of them ever again, outside of a police action.

So, honestly, please don't worry about anything that qualifies as news from cutdown day. It has never mattered before, it will never matter in the future, and its a half hour of your life that you get back to think about Actual Game.

Which is coming in just a couple of days to save us all from not thinking about baseball...

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