With the preseason wrapping up this week and teams looking forward to the regular season, it's time to start narrowing down the 53-man roster.
The deadline for all clubs reduce their rosters from 90 players to 53 players is Aug. 29 at 1 p.m. PT. Between today and Tuesday, General Manager Dave Ziegler and Assistant General Manager Champ Kelly have some tough decisions ahead of them.
The duo sat down with the media on Thursday afternoon, where they were asked about how they approach building this year's team.
"It's probably one of the more difficult parts of this decision-making process is weighing the immediate versus the future," Ziegler said. "At the same time, we prescribe to a philosophy that it doesn't matter where you come from, doesn't matter who you are, you earn your spot based on your performance on the field."
Some of the players working to impress include members of the 2023 draft class, who Ziegler, Kelly and their staff scouted, assessed and ultimately drafted. One standout has been fourth-round pick Aidan O'Connell, who has thrown for 304 yards and three touchdowns through two preseason games.
"We had a really good experience with them here acclimating to our system, learning our culture, learning from the coaches and also the veteran players that are here," Kelly said of the nine draft picks. "Just excited to see them continue to grow into the players that we envisioned them to be when we drafted them."
Ziegler and Kelly were both quick to point out the importance of high-football IQ and versatility in their players, two qualities they've looked for throughout the draft and free agency, and are now watching play out in Training Camp and the preseason.
"The more you can do, the more you increase your value, and the more you increase your chances to make the team," Ziegler said. "That's definitely something we look at because you only get 53.
"The more people you have on the team that can fill multiple roles throughout a season where there's going to be injuries and stuff like that is something we talk about when we're working through the decision-making process."
For all 32 teams who have worked with their players for months through the offseason program, this time of year is never easy.
"There's 1,200 guys across the league that are going to probably get waived come Tuesday," Kelly said. "It's not easy because these people have been invested in our football team and the success of our team, and some of these people won't be with us. That's the reality of it, and we hope that they have opportunities elsewhere.
"There will be some tough decisions that we ultimately have to make but Dave and Josh [McDaniels] are going to always make the right decisions for the Raiders. Ultimately, that's what we'll accomplish come Tuesday."
Get an inside look at the Raiders' 2023 Training Camp practice at Intermountain Health Performance Center.