I mentioned yesterday that none of the Ravens' bubble players probably got a comfortable sleep Friday night, as they anxiously awaited roster cuts and word on whether or not they had earned a job.
Last night couldn't have been much different for guys like Michael McAdoo, Chykie Brown and Albert McClellan.
The Ravens may have set their 53-man roster yesterday, but they are almost certainly not done making tweaks to that original group. GM Ozzie Newsome will likely attempt to add a veteran offensive lineman in the coming days, and a quarterback and wide receiver could be priorities, as well.
There is currently one open spot on the roster because of the suspension to wide receiver David Reed, but if the Ravens pick up more than one player, McAdoo, Brown or McClellan - who might hold the final spots on the active roster - could be casualties.
Those in the Ravens' front office spent yesterday sifting through the players let go by the other 31 teams around the league, and once those players clear waivers, they're free to sign with any organization they choose.
Here's how the waiver process works, if you need a quick refresher:
If a player who is cut has less than four years of NFL experience, he is put on waivers. Much like the NFL draft, the team with the worst record last year (the Panthers) then has the first chance to pick up that player and claim his current contract. If the Panthers pass, the team with the second-worst record in 2010 (the Broncos) has the next chance to claim the player, and so on.
If the player passes through waivers without being claimed by a team, he becomes a free agent. Players with four or more years of NFL service are automatically free agents once they're released.
Confused yet? Wait, there's more.
As teams adjust the makeup of their 53-man roster, they also start piecing together their practice squad, which is an eight-man group of young players that each team is allowed to hold onto through the year.
This group can practice with the team, but the players are not a part of the active roster, and cannot suit up on gamedays. Practice squad players are paid a minimum of $5,700 per week (teams can offer more than that amount in order to sway a player to sign with their organization), and can be promoted to a 53-man roster at any point during the season. Teams are allowed to sign players from another team's practice squad onto their active roster.
In order for a player to be eligible for the practice squad, he must meet one of the following requirements:
* Have no prior accrued seasons in the NFL (six or more games on the active roster);
* Have one prior accrued season in which the player was on the 45-man active roster for no more than eight games;
* If served two seasons on a practice squad, are eligible for a third season only if the team has at least 53 players on its active/inactive list for the duration of that player's employment.
Got all that?
I have to believe McAdoo and Brown are the two guys on the Ravens' roster who are likely in the most precarious position right now; if the Ravens add a couple free agents to their 53-man squad, one of the two rookies would likely be let go.
Here's part of the strategy that goes into constructing the initial roster: had either McAdoo or Brown been released yesterday, they might have gotten snatched up by another organization. Because teams have now started to finalize their active rosters, however, it would be easier for the Ravens to pass McAdoo or Brown through waivers in the coming days and keep them around on the practice squad.
Regardless, this is no time for those young guys to celebrate making an NFL roster. They could get word any minute that they've been cut to make room for a veteran, and will again be out looking for a job.