Head Coach Tony Dungy told the media that the June 1 cut list could have some 'interesting' names on it
For a few well-known NFL veterans, the Turk could come early on Thursday.
The Turk is an imagined character that represents whomever on a football team is responsible for making cuts. While it is most often invoked at the end of training camp, the Turk has become increasingly relevant around the National Football League in June.
Due to the machinations of the salary cap, clubs facing budget issues often find it financially desirable to wait until June 1 to trim large salaries. That means the NFL waiver wire, which is delivered daily to all 31 teams in the league, could be of greater interest on Thursday when some established names are likely to be on it.
It also means that Wednesday, Thursday and Friday will be days of heavy speculation in most, if not all, 31 NFL cities. Observers of some teams will be predicting painful cuts; others will be wondering if their rosters are about to receive a bonus.
In Tampa, Buccaneers Head Coach Tony Dungy addressed the issue on Wednesday and stressed one point strongly: Tampa Bay will not be forced into any cuts on Thursday. "We don't really plan on releasing anyone," said Dungy. "We're happy with the roster we have – I want to make that point clear. If we don't get anyone, we won't feel badly because we like who we have."
Of course, Dungy was asked whether the Bucs would 'get someone' because it's clear that Tampa Bay's well-managed financial position would allow it to make room for a player that might not fit under another team's cap. That sort of successful cap management was a factor in the Bucs' ability to land WR Keyshawn Johnson in a trade with the New York Jets and subsequently sign Johnson to an extended contract. With the additions of Johnson, C Jeff Christy and G Randall McDaniel, all Pro Bowlers, the Bucs appear to have greatly strengthened their already successful team and led to speculation that the team would continue to add talent.
"We're going to look at the wire and see," said Dungy. "If we think there's someone out there that can help us, we'll sure investigate it. … There's probably going to be 10-12 really interesting names, as there are every year.
"We have 85 people right now, I think, so we're pretty full and we like the guys we have. But, again, I think we'll look at every case individually, and if the person can help us, we would consider it. We're trying to win a championship."
Any players released on June 1 would be available for claim on the waiver system on June 2. Players not claimed are then free agents that may sign with any team. It is a process repeated throughout the year in the NFL, but now seems to be most anticipated in June.
"We look at the waiver wire every day," said Dungy. "It's not like June 2nd is a magical day and all the sudden we're going to look at the wire that day. There are guys that get released every day, and you make the same decisions on all of them. First of all, can they help you? Can they make your team, and can they improve your team? And if they can improve your team, at what cost?
"There are going to be higher-priced guys on June 2nd than there have been on some of these other days. Whether they improve your team or not, that remains to be seen. We'll make those judgments on guys when they are available. Then, if you think there is somebody that can improve your team, you have to negotiate and see what it's going to cost."
Dungy, in the midst of a voluntary four-week practice schedule that has drawn virtually perfect attendance, continued to stress his happiness with the Bucs' current squad. After nearly advancing to the Super Bowl in 1999, the Bucs have actively reworked their roster during the spring and have not specifically left any issues unresolved heading into June.
"It's not like you're saving a lot of room and you expect to get this one great player that's going to turn the franchise around," said Dungy. "I don't think (the free agent list) will be too, too big, but there will be some interesting names out there."