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2019 NFL roster cuts: major facts and deadlines

Cuts, practice squads, waiver claims—it’s going to be a wild ride at the end of the week

Buffalo Bills v Detroit Lions
Head coach Sean McDermott has a lot of thinking to do over the next few days
Photo by Dave Reginek/Getty Images

With the fourth preseason game of the 2019 NFL season nearly upon us, the Buffalo Bills will have some big decisions to make regarding their final roster. Prior to the 2017 season, teams cut players in phases; however, teams now go from 90 players (or, in Buffalo’s case thanks to a roster exemption for running back Christian Wade, 91 players) right down to the 53-man roster at the conclusion of the preseason.

While we know that the team will have to cut 38 players after Thursday night’s exhibition game against the Minnesota Vikings, it’s helpful to know by exactly what date and time the Bills will have to do it. Here’s a look at the important deadlines for teams regarding their 53-man rosters as teams head into the regular season.

August 29—The final games of the 2019 preseason are played. All 32 teams play their preseason finale on the same date.

August 31—By no later than 4 p.m. Eastern, all teams have to finalize their 53-man roster. They may do so by waiving players, by trading players, or by transferring injured players onto one of the following lists: Reserve/Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) or Reserve/Non-Football Injury or Illness (NFI). They may also officially place players on the injured reserve (IR) list at this time.

September 1—By 12 noon Eastern, all waiver claims must be placed. At approximately 1 p.m. Eastern, all clubs will receive a personnel notice stating which players have been waived and had their contract “terminated” via the waiver system (i.e., they have “cleared” waivers). Once players have officially cleared waivers, teams may begin to assemble a ten-player practice squad. In the case of the Bills and other teams participating in the International Pathway Program, they may choose to designate their international player as an eleventh person on the practice squad (or, they may even choose to make him one of their ten practice squad players). For more information on practice-squad eligibility, see this outstanding breakdown by Dave Schofield of Behind the Steel Curtain. For more information on our own Christian Wade and what the Bills can do with him, see this outstanding breakdown by our own Matt Warren.