On Saturday, the NFL’s 32 teams will trim their rosters from the current 90-man maximum down to the regular season threshold of 53 (plus an additional 10 players on the practice squad). This means that almost 1,200 players will lose their jobs and hit the free agency market in a rather short period of time. Needless to say that personnel departments around the league will have their work cut out for them these next few days.
The New England Patriots’ is no exception, and head coach Bill Belichick projected its workload during his press conference today. When asked whether or not it would be tough to keep an eye on all the upcoming movement and possibly available players around the NFL, he pointed out that other people within the organization were responsible for that: “Yeah, I don’t do that,” said Belichick. “That’s why we have a pro personnel department.”
New England’s head coach and de facto general manager then went into greater detail about the department and what lies ahead for it between now and the start of the regular season next week: “I think Nick [Caserio] and Dave Ziegler and the guys in that department do a great job. I think they’re on top of it,” Belichick said about the Patriots’ pro scouting operation — one that extends far beyond Caserio and Ziegler.
After all, the director of player personnel (Caserio) and the director of pro personnel (Ziegler) are joined in the department by three pro scouts: Steve Cargile, who is in his ninth season with the Patriots, Ronnie McGill, who is in his eighth, and second-year scout Marshall Oium. Together with the two men Belichick mentioned by name they are responsible for keeping a close eye on the players around the NFL. And Belichick seems to appreciate the job they are doing.
“I can ask them about any player in the league and they can tell me what that player’s situation is, who he’s in competition with, how he’s looked, what game’s he’s played in, better than last year, not as good as last year,” Belichick said about the pro scouting department today. “Whatever it is, they’ll be on all of those guys. And at thirteen hundred guys or whatever, there’ll be some kind of transaction.”
“With thirteen hundred-plus that’ll have a transaction here in the next few days, there’ll be very few — if any — guys that we’ll... we’ll be way over the thirteen hundred,” he continued while projecting what will be a busy week for Caserio and company. “We’re looking at maybe thirteen hundred and then some guys are going to make it, some guys aren’t, but the guys that are there will be on.”
For the Patriots, this process might culminate in potential additions from the outside either to the team’s active roster or its practice squad. If the past is any indication, for example, everything is possible: last year, the Patriots made one trade on the eve of cutdown day when they sent safety Jordan Richards to the Atlanta Falcons; they also claimed a pair of wide receivers — Chad Hansen and Amara Darboh — off the waiver wire.
No matter who becomes available, the Patriots will be ready according to their head coach: “I’d be surprised if there’s somebody in that group that we haven’t looked at tape on, had a preseason evaluation on, and that we’re not up to speed with,” said Belichick. “That’s what the pro personnel department does.”