Wellington Mara called it “a day of overwhelming sadness’’ as the Giants tossed Phil Simms onto the scrap heap, making him the first high-profile salary cap casualty in franchise history. This was after the 1993 season. While few, if any, of the player releases that followed have been as emotional, this latest barrage is a reminder of the NFL life cycle.

“It’s a machine,’’ Luke Petitgout told The Post yesterday. “Players think they have the power and the leverage. It’s the team. It never stops. It spits people out left and right.’’

The machine this week churned out linebacker Michael Boley, defensive tackle Chris Canty and, most cruelly, running back Ahmad Bradshaw, whom Giants fans might view the way Dorothy lamented Scarecrow, knowing she would miss him most of all. More could follow. Players who contributed to a Super Bowl championship and, in Bradshaw’s case, two of them, are always more difficult to send packing. Some may laud general manager Jerry Reese for his decisiveness, but the real trick is to find replacements because right now, today, the Giants aren’t any better than they were a few days ago.

“He’s basically getting rid of the guys before they expire, so to speak,’’ Petitgout said.

The man knows what time it is. Just as Simms was a first for the former general manager, George Young, Petitgout was the first for Reese back in 2007, the first big-ticket player to be shown the door not long after Reese took the baton from Ernie Accorsi. A reliable left tackle, Petitgout was a first-round pick from Notre Dame and he lasted eight years with the Giants. He still recalls he was “shocked’’ around Valentine’s Day in 2007 when he was summoned into Tom Coughlin’s office.

In the weeks that followed, Petitgout did not hide his bitterness, at the time claiming he was “basically kicked off the club” by Reese.