ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- Finalizing the regular-season roster brings with it plenty of excitement -- after all, it signals the start of the regular season.
But the process of trimming down a roster to the NFL-mandated 53 players isn't necessarily something Executive Vice President of Football Operations John Elway looks forward to.
In fact, he called Friday "the worst day of the year."
"The second-worst day is last week when we get down to 75 (players)," Elway said. "These guys, you know they put their heart and souls into being NFL football players. You end a lot of dreams. Guys have put a lot of sweat and tears into trying to make the team, so it's always a very tough day."
But those tough decisions are what help build a successful football team throughout the season. And the harder it is to let a player go, Elway said it just shines a light on the talent of the players that do make the roster.
"When it comes down to the talent and the decisions we had to make, they were much tougher this year than they were last year, which is a good thing," Elway said. "Because that means you’re getting better as a football team.”
From here, the Broncos still have a chance to improve the roster even further. Hundreds of NFL players will hit the waiver wire -- and free agent market, for veterans that were released as opposed to waived -- after Friday's cutdown deadline of 7 p.m. MDT.
The Broncos have the No. 25 waiver priority to claim any players waived from other teams, and can begin to do so after 10 a.m. MDT on Saturday.
"It’s still fluid -- we'll just have to wait and see what happens," Elway said. "We’ve been going through that process trying to prepare because of the short window we had between last night’s game and today and then by the time we have to claim by 10 (a.m.)."
"We’ve been in the process the last week of working on that, and now that some of the cuts and names are getting out there, we’re in that process again.”
In addition, the team can also begin to form a practice squad of up to eight players beginning at 10 a.m. Of the 15 players the Broncos waived Friday, 14 are eligible to join the practice squad.
With the roster down to 53 players, the team is free to set its sights on the regular-season opener against the Pittsburgh Steelers, which kicks off a week from Sunday.
"Through all of the hype we’ve been through since (quarterback) Peyton (Manning) has been here, it’s time now to start playing football," Elway said, "which is the fun part.”