Matt Nagy loves his job, but this weekend the Bears coach will have to contend with one aspect of it that he dreads.
With NFL teams required to reach the 53-man roster limit by 3 p.m. (CT) Saturday, the Bears will have to say goodbye to 37 players.
"We have a lot of perks in my position and [general manager] Ryan [Pace's] position," Nagy said. "A lot of perks and a lot of good things happen. For both of us, [cutting players] are not the perks. Those are harder."
When speaking with players who have failed to earn a roster spot, Nagy is upbeat and honest. But that doesn't make the task any easier for him.
"One thing I hang my hat on—and I did it when I got here as a head coach with the hiring and firing of coaches—is just be real, be honest with them," Nagy said. "Tell them how they can improve, and then tell them how you'll help them. If you truly feel like they can still play for another team, then help them. Give them a chance. You never burn bridges. I always tell them, 'You never know when we'll cross paths again.' So I'm just real, I'm honest.
"There are some emotional ones that can be very difficult. Even throughout the season, you get to a position where, for whatever reason, you've got to make a move and it's never easy. I hate that part."
Nagy especially isn't looking forward to having to cut a player that was with the Bears last year during the coach's first season in Chicago.
"Last year for me as a first-year guy, there's not many relationships built," Nagy said. "The longer I'm at this thing, you build relationships and you're there with them longer. So when you do have to have conversations, those are the ones that rip your heart out."
Heading into training camp, Pace and Nagy had a pretty good idea where the most intense battles for jobs would transpire based on the composition of the roster. But there are always surprises.
"You know where that depth's at, and you try to prep for it," Nagy said. "But then things change, and everything happens for a reason. It all plays itself out.
"So when things happen and someone plays better than you thought they were or someone doesn't play as well as you thought they were going to play, then that's where the chips can move to where you have to say, 'Woah, I didn't think I was going to have to make this decision.'
Saturday's final cuts are complicated by the fact that the Bears will kick off the NFL's 100th season by hosting the Packers Thursday night at Soldier Field—three days before any other teams play their openers.
"You're trying to keep the best players, maybe not necessarily the best positions," Nagy said. "Those decisions, they're never easy. The other part is we're on a short week, so they can't be long discussions either because we're trying to get ready for Green Bay."
For bubble players, Thursday night's preseason finale against the Titans at Soldier Field represents their final opportunity to prove they deserve to be part of the 53-man roster.
"We're still unsure at some spots," Nagy said. "That's every team now. No one knows fully who their guys are going to be. We feel like we have a lot of tough decisions ahead."
Roster move: As expected, the Bears on Tuesday placed veteran tackle T.J. Clemmings on injured reserve. On Monday, Nagy revealed that Clemmings had sustained a season-ending quad injury in Saturday night's preseason game in Indianapolis.