The old joke told by NFL coaches and personnel men who look at bad teams with deficient rosters is that when it comes setting the final roster, it's hard to get down to 53 players ... and not keep going.
Honestly, that joke applies to the Dolphins today.
They have 53 jobs available. But they legitimately have maybe 40 players (at most) who have earned an NFL roster spot based on their performance this training camp and preseason, or based on their proven talent.
Everyone else? Open to interpretation. Open to the availability of players that other teams let go. Open to the possibility of trades. Open to their relative value to the team based on the relative value of another player who isn't that great, either.
The Dolphins must trim the roster to 53 players by 9 p.m. tonight. Much of that work will be done this morning. And many of the cuts will be easy.
For example, today the Dolphins will cut players such as Kevyn Scott, Shelly Lyons, Jarrell Root, Anderson Russell, Chris Hogan, and others.
[Update: The team has released DL Ryan Baker, who has been with the Dolphins on and off for two years.]
Some may return as practice squad players. Most will not.
Emotions aside, this is simply business. It happens every year.
The problem for the Dolphins is not that they must make hard cuts. The problem is that there are not enough hard cuts. Honestly, how many players that get the axe from Miami will get picked up by other teams? I don't think that will be a high number. Teams such as San Francisco, New England, Green Bay, the Giants and even Washington will meanwhile see a lot of their discards end up on other rosters. That is a sure sign those teams have talent.
Another problem in Miami is that some players may not be cut even though they deserve it. That is the surest sign of weakness on a team -- when players that haven't done anything to earn a job or shown anything that suggests they will someday do the job, get the job anyway.
Let's face it, Michael Egnew has not earned a job on Miami's 53 man roster. But because he is a third-round pick, he will likely stick with the team. He is, apparently, on scholarship.
Let's face it, Clyde Gates has done nothing the past two preseasons as a wide receiver to earn a spot on the roster. But because he has the potential to be a deep threat and the Dolphins are so thin at the position, Gates might (I stress might because it is not certain) survive.
Cornerback Quinten Lawrence is all about potential now. He is not ready to play in the NFL. It showed Wednesday night when he got a lot of playing time against Dallas and none of his moments in the spotlight were highlights for the Dolphins. All were highlights for the Cowboys. Lawrence beat here. Lawrence pass intereference there.
Yet, Lawrence is likely to make this team.
That doesn't show how strong the team is. The opposite.