We’ve made it through the final cuts and rosters are now set at 53 players, though there is still some tweaking to come. But it looking at the numbers, I noticed some interesting trends that are exerting force on these roster situations and changing the way GM’s are putting their teams together.
The first interesting factor is the way teams are classifying these players. Right now, we have 150 players who have been placed on IR (only 32 of those, at most, can be designated for return), 29 have been suspended for some length of time, 21 are on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list, 14 on Non-Football Injury (NFI), and one player did not report. That makes a total of 215 players who will not be available for opening day, or 13% of the potential roster.
I’m most interested in the Injured Reserve number. Teams have placed 9% of players on IR at this point. Why? Because teams have cap space (16 teams have at least $15M in cap space). Instead of working out injury settlements, teams can absorb cap money, and still have the services of their players as long as they are on multi-year contracts.
The other factor is the influx of rookies in the league. We had 253 players drafted in April. From that group 28 were cut, and 12 were placed on one off the inactive lists (IR/PUP/NFI), leaving 213 drafted players who made rosters. Another 56 undrafted rookies made rosters. That’s a big number compared to the usual 32-35 we normally see, giving us 269 rookies, which equals 16% of league rosters. This allows the teams to say goodbye to 269 vets, which helps keep costs down and allows the roster maneuvering.
A big piece of successfully mastering the system is knowing where the depth is in the rookie class. This year, it was in the LB, WR, and RB groups. If you can find those players late in the draft and after the draft who can contribute right away, it allows you more freedom to move your veteran players and create more cap space.Add to My RFN