53-Man Roster: Is It Enough?

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    oldgrappler's Avatar
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    53-Man Roster: Is It Enough?

    I've not really thought about this before but the Browns defense has struggled with injuries. Gregg Williams had a defense that created a lot of take-aways, keeping the Browns in games and giving the offense many opportunities to score. The defense was the strength of the team.

    Then the injury bug hit and suddenly, the defense was a question mark. LB Joe Schobert was out. He is the one who made defensive calls. Then Kirksey went out with a ham string injury and he was the one making the defensive calls. CB Denzel Ward was out with a hip injury, Safety Damarius Randall had a groin injury, CB EJ Gaines had a concussion... and you get the picture. A couple more calls for "Next man up" and don't be surprised if we see Mrs. Haslam as gunner on Special Teams!

    A 53-man roster doesn't seem like enough bodies to keep a team going during the NFL season. That number is about the same as the Boone County Rebels who play 6A in KY high school and it isn't enough for them. I look across the field and see 80-90 players lined up on the opposing sideline. Our guys are sucking wind in the third and fourth quarter and if there are a few injuries, look out.

    I know that the NFL cannot be equated to KY H.S. regarding the talent level of backup players. And I know the NFL has practice squads, etc. But still, there are some positions (read skills) where you need more talented players as back-ups. When the injury bug hits these positions, you drastically change the nature of your offense or defense.

    So, are 53 players enough to keep an NFL team going through a 16-game season? Why did the NFL decide on a 53-man roster? I have no agenda with this question but I am wondering why 53 is the number. College and larger-class high school teams have more than 53 guys. Shoot, some college teams have 120 players on the sideline.

    What are your thoughts?
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    theguru's Avatar
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    Great thread @oldgrappler

    I think the NFL definitely needs to expand their rosters.

    I would like to see something like 65 for starters with most, if not all, active on game day.

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    UKMustangFan's Avatar
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    53 is way more than enough.

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    Jumper_Dad's Avatar
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    53 to 55 active on game day would seem to be enough. I'd like to see a total roster of 65, with 10 inactive/emergency only list each week.

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    CollegefootballGuy69's Avatar
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    65 would be perfect.

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    Quote Originally Posted by CollegefootballGuy69 View Post
    65 would be perfect.
    Even at minimum salary that's adding nearly $6 million to payroll per team, and $190 million league wide much of which will be just standing around on Sundays. Each team does have a practice squad of up to 10 guys that are on the ready, should they be needed. I don't think having 65 guys on the active roster makes for a better product, especially when you consider the extra cost involved. I would like to see the active game day roster be raised a little from 46. I've seen lots of instances where teams are down to their last player at positions, especially O-Line and DB's.

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    GrantNKY's Avatar
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    65 with 55 active on game days seems pretty fair to me.

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    It makes sense that the minimal roster (53) is driven by economics and imposed by the owners, as per @rjs4470 in post #6. Economics is calling the shots, not necessarily what makes for the best football or the best for players. All of life must be balanced between the way you would do it if money were not an object and the way the realities of life dictate.

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    Quote Originally Posted by oldgrappler View Post
    It makes sense that the minimal roster (53) is driven by economics and imposed by the owners, as per @rjs4470 in post #6. Economics is calling the shots, not necessarily what makes for the best football or the best for players. All of life must be balanced between the way you would do it if money were not an object and the way the realities of life dictate.
    Those costs are real, but I'm still not really sure how adding 12 guys to the gameday roster would necessarily make for better football. Teams currently aren't running out of players, and the practice squad allows teams to keep a handful of guys that have been in the system, around to fill needs. The teams really don't go that deep on the roster on game day as is, so most of the extra guys would just be standing around anyway. I could see making the argument to increase the actives up from 46 to say 50, but I still just don't believe having 65 active players will make for better football on Sundays.

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    Quote Originally Posted by oldgrappler View Post
    I've not really thought about this before but the Browns defense has struggled with injuries. Gregg Williams had a defense that created a lot of take-aways, keeping the Browns in games and giving the offense many opportunities to score. The defense was the strength of the team.

    Then the injury bug hit and suddenly, the defense was a question mark. LB Joe Schobert was out. He is the one who made defensive calls. Then Kirksey went out with a ham string injury and he was the one making the defensive calls. CB Denzel Ward was out with a hip injury, Safety Damarius Randall had a groin injury, CB EJ Gaines had a concussion... and you get the picture. A couple more calls for "Next man up" and don't be surprised if we see Mrs. Haslam as gunner on Special Teams!

    A 53-man roster doesn't seem like enough bodies to keep a team going during the NFL season. That number is about the same as the Boone County Rebels who play 6A in KY high school and it isn't enough for them. I look across the field and see 80-90 players lined up on the opposing sideline. Our guys are sucking wind in the third and fourth quarter and if there are a few injuries, look out.

    I know that the NFL cannot be equated to KY H.S. regarding the talent level of backup players. And I know the NFL has practice squads, etc. But still, there are some positions (read skills) where you need more talented players as back-ups. When the injury bug hits these positions, you drastically change the nature of your offense or defense.

    So, are 53 players enough to keep an NFL team going through a 16-game season? Why did the NFL decide on a 53-man roster? I have no agenda with this question but I am wondering why 53 is the number. College and larger-class high school teams have more than 53 guys. Shoot, some college teams have 120 players on the sideline.

    What are your thoughts?
    Quote Originally Posted by GrantNKY View Post
    65 with 55 active on game days seems pretty fair to me.
    Quote Originally Posted by oldgrappler View Post
    It makes sense that the minimal roster (53) is driven by economics and imposed by the owners, as per @rjs4470 in post #6. Economics is calling the shots, not necessarily what makes for the best football or the best for players. All of life must be balanced between the way you would do it if money were not an object and the way the realities of life dictate.
    It definitely about the money for why their are not more. Currently teams have 61 players on their rosters, when you include practice squad guys. They get up to 90 in the off season.

    However it's not just about owners not wanting to spend more money. If I had a guess the Players association wouldn't want teams to have to add more players too. The reason is players already don't like how baseball and football star players make so much more than them, when they are physically taking more of a punishment. However the reason why NFL players don't make as huge of salaries as the other sports, is because there is already so many more players to pay. If you add more players to each team, that means even smaller contracts for the top players.

    Imo I feel like all 53 guys should be able to dress, and also the 8 practice squad guys. You already are paying them anyways, so let them dress. Now even if you let practice squad players dress and possibly even play if needed. You still can have the same rule, and have the 8 players you label as practice squad guys, be able to be signed at anytime by any other NFL team even if they are allowed to dress on game days.

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    Isn't 53 the active roster for each game? I'm pretty sure each team can decide to deactivate a player(s) for a game and activate players off the practice squad right up until game time. So in actuality they have 61 players available.

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    I see the problem as not letting all 53 be active. If players have minor injuries give team a three week window to bring players to the active roster without exposing them to waivers.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bengal Maniac View Post
    I see the problem as not letting all 53 be active. If players have minor injuries give team a three week window to bring players to the active roster without exposing them to waivers.
    This makes the GM's job and Personnel Director's job one of constant vigil during the season. If they activate a player from the practice squad due to an injury at his particular position, then want to place him back on the practice squad, my understanding is they have to release him from his contract and hope he clears waivers before they can sign him to the practice squad again. You can lose a good player that you are trying to keep and develop for the future that way.

    When trying to find out about the pros and cons of the 53-man roster size, I came across a good article on the thought that goes into building a team's roster in the first place. It may provide some insight into the question I asked.

    The Anatomy of a 53-Man Roster in the NFL | Bleacher Report | Latest News, Videos and Highlights

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    Quote Originally Posted by maysvilleky View Post
    Isn't 53 the active roster for each game? I'm pretty sure each team can decide to deactivate a player(s) for a game and activate players off the practice squad right up until game time. So in actuality they have 61 players available.
    The roster size is 53. They are allowed to dress 46 players for game day. In addition, they are allowed a 10-man practice squad.

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    I saw an article on Profootballtalk.nbcsports quoting Falcons coach Dan Quinn saying he wants more players on the active game day roster, which is currently at 46. He thinks 50 may be good. One reason is because there is no developmental league and he'd like to keep more guys (kinda what I mentioned above as a drawback of having to clear waivers before returning to the practice squad). He also thinks it would make it safer for the players to have more available to play on any day.

    With recent rules changes and the concern over concussed players, more players are getting pulled off the field for concussion protocol and players are being increasingly exposed to game ejection for leading with the helmet. The thought is, you need more players available on game day.

    It's a short article. Check it out here: Dan Quinn wants the NFL to expand game day active rosters beyond 46 players – ProFootballTalk

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