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Cardinals’ Bruce Arians takes NFL cut day personally

Bruce Arians wore black on NFL cut day in 2015 to underscore the gravity of the occasion. On Friday, one day before the Cardinals will trim their 2017 roster from the 88 current players to the official 53-man roster, Arizona’s coach reiterated that this is “by far, the least” favorite part of his job.

“It’s a Catch-22,” he said. “You hate cut day but you’re really excited about the season starting. I’ll feel a lot better Monday than I do today.”

It’s never easy to tell a man he no longer has a job, and the Cardinals have to do it 35 times on Saturday with the new, all-in-one cut format, but Arians has a particular weakness for two types of players to whom he must say goodbye.

“You get to really like the guys where you probably know they don’t have a chance but they’re such an overachiever that they get this far and they make you go, ‘why the hell am I cutting this guy?'” Arians said. “Because you’re really just not good enough, but you love coaching them and you probably know that his career is over.”

The other type is the veteran player with whom Arians has developed a bond. Former Cardinals linebacker and special teams captain Lorenzo Alexander was the most notable example. A foot injury cost him most of the 2013 season and impacted him in 2014, leading the Cardinals to cut him before the 2015 season.

“Lorenzo Alexander was hard because he meant so much to us in the beginnings,” said Arians of a player who signed a three-year, $9.5 million contract with Arizona and became a locker room leader. “We had a long talk and I thanked him for laying the foundation of how to do things on and off the field. I was so happy for him to have the year he had in Buffalo (in 2016). No one deserves it more.”

While Arians said he never preps players for the possibility of being cut because he doesn’t want that thought weighing down their performance, he also admitted that having to deliver the sudden news is a feeling that lingers well after the fact.

“Some of it will never go away,” he said. “You just kind of hide those feelings or put them away but they never go away.”

The NFL is a cutthroat business. Once the 53-man roster is announced, Arians will congratulate the players who made the team and then quickly remind the bottom 10 players that their jobs are never safe.

“You can’t have a bad day,” he said. “There’s somebody out there that wants your job.”

When the sting of the ‘it’s just business’ approach subsides, however, Arians tries to maintain relationships with players after they have moved on.

“Oh gosh, yeah,” he said. “Lorenzo is one of those guys. I couldn’t wait to see him. Guys in the past are the same way. They have caught on with other teams and you still see them on the sidelines.”

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