We failed to mention this earlier because so much other stuff was going on this week, but I wanted to be sure to come back to the news that broke earlier this week regarding roster limits.
The NFL announced recently that the offseason roster limit has increased from 80 players to 90. Teams will be required to decrease to 80 players after the third preseason game, and then down to 53 on “Cut Day” after the final preseason game.
This is interesting news and could have a huge impact on strategies this year, and especially in the future.
The most obvious thing to note is that just before the season begins, the free agency market will be flooded with about 1,184 more players. While many names could very well be no-names, this only increases the odds that teams make some signings just before week one… or shortly thereafter.
Secondly, this increases the importance of scouting and visiting with prospects considered to be later round “sleepers” or undrafted free agents with potential. Teams will get a chance to look at ten more players in the preseason, and they are going to want to maximize the potential behind that by filling the roster to the brim with as much talent as they possibly can.
Then there is the issue of free agency. The increased roster size may help aging veterans get a shot in training camp with a team when they previously weren’t worth giving up a roster spot for. Conversely, teams will be going crazy to bring in undrafted free agents when the Draft ends and quarterbacks seem highly likely to be targeted even more.
Fourth, it could decrease the amount of reps taken by starters and roster locks in training camp and in the preseason. After all, there are 10 more guys that now need reps. This could be good from a wear and tear standpoint, but could also be viewed as a negative from a preparation standpoint.
The increase, overall, should be viewed as a positive by teams. There is a lot of value in being allowed to develop a first-hand file on 10 extra players per year, even if they don’t stand a chance of making the team.