Over 2,800 players are currently on active rosters heading into the fourth week of the preseason. More than 1,000 of those jobs will be severed by Saturday.
These are some of the most tense days on the NFL calendar for players and front offices alike, with six months of offseason roster construction transforming from theory to transaction-wire reality. By the time all the cuts, roster designations and trades slow down on Labor Day, there will only be a few days more until an actual NFL game. It's about to go down.
To preview the frenzied weekend, I'm spotlighting a bunch of notable players whose status could change, dividing them up into three categories: potential trade targets, roster cut candidates and guys whose bubble shouldn't pop. It's worth wondering if the trade tsunami that helped define this offseason will have one more wave before Week 1. While it's never easy to speculate on surprise moves, what's the harm in trying?
BUBBLE SHOULDN'T POP
These players can't feel entirely safe about their status, but it appears they've done enough to make their roster.
Corey Coleman, WR, Buffalo Bills: There has been speculation that the Browns' first-round pick from 2016 might not even make it to Week 1 with the Bills after a quiet couple of weeks in Buffalo. The Bills traded a draft pick for him -- albeit only a 2020 seventh-rounder -- because they are desperate and have no depth at the position. It makes no sense for the Bills to bail already when they don't have appealing alternatives.
Kevin White, WR, Chicago Bears: He's no higher than No. 4 on the depth chart, but White put together a healthy preseason when he absolutely needed it to keep his Chicago career alive.
Robert Griffin III, QB, Baltimore Ravens: If Lamar Jackson builds on his improved outing from last week on Thursday night, RGIII could again be in trouble. But even if the Ravens make a surprise move by cutting him, the former No. 2 overall pick has showed enough in Baltimore to get a roster spot somewhere.
Torrey Smith, WR, Carolina Panthers: Even though the Panthers could save $5 million by cutting Smith, they probably don't want to admit defeat after acquiring him in a trade this offseason. Despite a rough preseason, Smith's receiver coach Lance Taylor said the eighth-year veteran may have practiced better than any wideout in camp.
Braxton Miller, WR, Houston Texans: The transition from quarterback to slot receiver has not been easy for Miller, who has struggled with injuries. But he appears to be a favorite of coach Bill O'Brien and has enjoyed a positive August while competitors like Keke Coutee were hurt this time around. (UPDATE: Appearances can be deceiving, as the Texans waived Miller on Friday.)
STRONG CANDIDATES TO BE CUT
Byron Maxwell, CB, Seattle Seahawks: Pete Carroll doesn't want to be reminded that the aging process exists, so he could continue to jettison any Seahawk over the age of 29. (Also, Maxwell hasn't been healthy, which could knock him from the starting lineup all the way to out of a job.)
WR Seth Roberts and LB Derrick Johnson, Oakland Raiders: The injury to Griff Whalen could help Roberts' chances, but he is at risk of being the next "old regime" Raider to be shown the door. Jon Gruden can't keep every over-30 player he signed this offseason, and Johnson could fall victim to Marquel Lee's excellent preseason. (Lee is the highest-rated linebacker in Pro Football Focus' preseason grades.)
Brandon Marshall and Amara Darboh, WRs, Seattle Seahawks: Marshall came on late in camp, but his spot remains precarious, given that he's a 34-year-old who received little guaranteed money and might not crack the Seahawks' top three receivers. Darboh is a 2017 third-round pick who just hasn't made an impact.
Earl Thomas, S, Seattle Seahawks: There are so many teams desperate for safety help, including the Cowboys, that the Seahawks' position looks stronger by the day. Thomas will have to decide whether it's worth skipping regular-season paychecks when there's no guarantee that any team wanting him in a trade will give him a long-term deal before he plays.
Malcom Brown, DT, New England Patriots: This one is just dot connecting, although ESPN's Mike Reiss notably brought up Brown as a potential trade candidate. The Patriots are relatively deep at defensive tackle, love to trade and have bigger needs at other positions like wide receiver. Could one of the league's most trade-happy teams get a valuable return for Brown, who is an excellent run stopper?
Mackensie Alexander, CB, Minnesota Vikings: First-round pick Mike Hughes might win the starting nickel job, with veteran Terence Newman also coming off the bench. That doesn't leave much room for 2016 second-rounder Alexander, who suffered an ankle injury that could jeopardize his status for Week 1.
Teddy Bridgewater, QB, New York Jets: It doesn't appear that there's much of a market for Bridgewater. (Because we'd hear about it if there was.) The Jets look likely to carry Teddy's $5 million salary on the roster in the hopes that a trade develops during the season. (UPDATE: Did I mention appearances can be deceiving? The Jets traded Bridgewater to the Saints on Wednesday.)