The NFL mandates that its 32 teams must reduce their active rosters to 53 players on Saturday. But just how does this process take place, and when? That's what we're here for, to give you an inkling of the rules behind this final set of decisions on who will make the Green Bay Packers' roster for opening week and who will be on the outside looking in.
The Deadline Itself
The official time of the NFL's deadline for teams to reach 53 players is Saturday, August 31st, at 6:00 PM Eastern Time. Obviously that is 5:00 PM local for the Packers, who are in the Central time zone.
Only the active roster must reach 53 players by that deadline. Players on the Reserve/Injured (IR) or Reserve/Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) lists do not count towards that limit.
As of the time of this publication, the Packers have five players on injured reserve: tackle Bryan Bulaga, wide receivers Sederrik Cunningham and Kevin Dorsey, running back DuJuan Harris, and linebacker Jarvis Reed.
There are also four players on the PUP list: safety Sean Richardson, tackles Derek Sherrod and JC Tretter, and defensive end Jerel Worthy.
The Packers currently hold 75 players on their active roster, and will therefore need to waive, release, or place on a reserve list 22 of them.
What's up with the IR and PUP lists?
In a nutshell, anyone on those lists is ineligible to play in a game. Any player placed on IR is out for the entire 2013 NFL season. One player who goes on IR after September 3rd may be designated as eligible to return later in the year. Specifically, he can return to practice after spending six weeks on IR and can return to games after spending eight weeks on IR. But remember, only one player can get that designation, and it has to be decided immediately when he is put on IR.
The PUP list is a little different. Anyone on the PUP list will be ineligible for practice or game action for the first six weeks. In the three weeks after that, a player on the PUP list must either return to practice, be placed on Injured Reserve, or be released outright. Finally, once a player does return to practice, another three-week span kicks in, and the player must be added back to the active roster or put on IR by the end of that window. Basically, a player could be put on the PUP list, start practicing at the end of week 9, and then be activated for week 12, but he may be placed on IR at any time.
However, the only Green Bay Packers eligible for the PUP list have already been placed there, meaning you won't be seeing that list used to help trim down the roster any further this weekend.
When will we hear about all the cuts?
In all honesty, it probably won't be until Saturday afternoon or evening until we know all the cuts. Ted Thompson said that the cut-down process makes him "physically sick". He also broke down the timeline a bit, saying that evaluations take place on Friday and they will likely wait until Saturday to begin notifying players who have been released.
How can I keep up with the process?
We'll be updating this page with news of cuts (and any signings, if they happen) as soon as we hear about them.
When do players get signed to the Practice Squad?
Players who are cut will be subject to waivers, so any team looking to fill an extra empty spot on the active roster will likely get the first crack at anyone who didn't make it out of training camp. Once players clear waivers on Sunday, teams will begin filling up the 8 spots on the practice squad. For a complete look at the practice squad rules, check out this breakdown from Cincy Jungle, SBNation's Bengals blog.