Wednesday, the NFL announced how its training camp rosters will look and function in 2021. It’ll be a mix of old and new. Teams will start camp with typical, 90-man rosters. That group will be cutdown to 85 by August 17th with another trimming to 80 one week later. The final cutdown to 53 will occur after a team’s third preseason game in late August.
That info courtesy of Lindsay Jones.
Update out of NFL owners meeting today:
-Training camp rosters set for max 90 players, with a cutdown to 85 on Aug 17
-Second cut to 80 by on Aug 24
-Teams to set 53-man rosters after 3rd preseason game / Aug 31
— Lindsay Jones (@bylindsayhjones) May 26, 2021
Last season, teams had two choices: An 80 or 90-man roster. Because of the pandemic, keeping 90 meant needing to have separate groups of players. That rule didn’t apply for 80-man groups, so every team, including the Steelers, quickly trimmed their roster down to 80.
In pre-COVID years, teams would just carry their 90 man roster through the entire preseason, whittling down to their 53 right before the regular season started.
These new rules are a mix of that pre-pandemic setup and the even older “cutdown to 75” stipulation that existed over a decade ago. Where teams would go from 90-man rosters to 75 and then down to their final 53.
Personally, I don’t see the point in cutting the roster mid-training camp. All that does is rob players on roster fringes of their last opportunities to stick on the roster. Or at the least, have more tape to show teams when they inevitably get released. Staying at 90 is also beneficial for teams as they deal with injuries and shorter lines during the summer months. It also keeps players fresher by having a greater rotation and depth at key areas, especially along the offensive line. Yet again, the union doesn’t seem interested in protecting its most vulnerable players.
At least this year, the first cutdown doesn’t apply until most training camps will be wrapping up. We’ll see if teams choose to wait until the 17th deadline to trim down to 85 or if they do so earlier, similar to what happened a summer ago.