NFL Nation: rosters
Most of the players probably will not play leading roles for their new teams. Some could develop over time.
We have recently considered whether having a high number of released players awarded to other teams via waivers might reflect well on a team's roster strength. The thinking is that stronger teams release better players overall, and weaker teams find more of those players appealing. This sounds logical and appears true in some cases even though the overall numbers suggest this isn't necessarily the case.
In any event, the chart below ranks teams by the number of released players awarded to other teams via waivers immediately following the reduction to 53 players. A league-high five players released by the Green Bay Packers immediately found homes elsewhere via waivers. The Seattle Seahawks and Philadelphia Eagles were next with four apiece.
On the flip side, Kansas City and Jacksonville each received a league-high seven players off waivers from other teams. Cleveland was next with six, followed by New England (four), the New York Jets (three) and four teams with two apiece: Oakland, San Diego, Tampa Bay and Arizona.
The total number of claims submitted exceeds the number of players awarded because some players were claimed more than once. I do not yet have the total number of claims submitted. The numbers I've referenced here pertain only to players awarded via waivers.
Note that Seattle's strength in the secondary shines through. The Seahawks were the only team to have two of the defensive backs they released awarded to other teams via waivers. Ron Parker went to Kansas City. Winston Guy went to Jacksonville. Another former Seahawks defensive back, Will Blackmon, was not eligible for waivers when Seattle terminated his contract. The Jaguars signed him as well. Yet another Seattle defensive back, Antoine Winfield, was expected to retire following his release from the Seahawks.
Connections came into play with those waiver claims. The Chiefs' general manager, John Dorsey, worked with Seahawks GM John Schneider in Green Bay. They could be looking for similar players in some cases. Guy and Blackmon join a Jaguars team featuring former Seahawks defensive coordinator Gus Bradley as head coach.
The chart shows the Detroit Lions as the oldest team and the St. Louis Rams as the youngest. Where the Rams rank comes as no surprise if you've been following their building process in the NFC West recently.
The Seattle Seahawks rank among the younger teams overall. They have the youngest offensive players after releasing fullback Michael Robinson.
The rankings exclude players placed on various reserve lists (physically unable to perform, non-football injury, injured and suspended). Note also that rankings are based on ages calculated to the day, not rounded backward to the nearest birthday. A player born in January will be older than a player born in October of the same year, for example. I've taken into account the difference in making these calculations. Rounding backward to the nearest birthday shaves about a half-year off the average ages.
I've shaded the NFC West teams in the chart for easier reference.
While the Arizona Cardinals did part with older players such as Adrian Wilson, they still have veteran flavor with Yeremiah Bell, John Abraham, Carson Palmer, Darnell Dockett, Daryn Colledge, Larry Fitzgerald and the NFL's oldest specialists.
Seattle got younger by releasing Robinson and 36-year-old cornerback Antoine Winfield. No player on the active roster has had his 32nd birthday. By comparison, six San Francisco 49ers are at least 32 years old.
The 49ers parted with 36-year-old long snapper Brian Jennings, 33-year-old Kassim Osgood and 33-year-old Seneca Wallace. They also added some veteran players this offseason, including Anquan Boldin, Phil Dawson, Nnamdi Asomugha and Adam Snyder. Asomugha and 32-year-old Carlos Rogers help give the 49ers the NFL's oldest defensive backs by average age. We should expect the team to get younger there over the next year, possibly by using an early draft choice for a cornerback.
Note: I have not visited courthouses to pull birth records for NFL players. Neither have teams. As someone who has tracked dates of birth for NFL players since 2007, I know there are times when listed birth dates change or conflict with records listed elsewhere. I make efforts to verify the dates. The team rankings at the extremes are more valuable than the ones in the middle because there is very little difference in average age for some teams.
The chart shows how many players each team from the division is carrying by position. Note that figures for defensive lineman and linebacker can be tricky, so a generic "front seven" figure could be more relevant in some cases.
One observation per team:
- Arizona Cardinals: Injury concerns have led the Cardinals to carry additional players at tight end. Starter Rob Housler suffered a high-ankle sprain and might not be ready for the opener. Veteran Jeff King has not yet played during preseason. The team added Richard Quinn as short-term insurance. Housler and King both passed physicals and have practiced during camp, making them ineligible for the physically unable to perform (PUP) list. Both are expected back sooner than PUP rules would allow, anyway. For now, though, their injuries are creating roster challenges. Guard Jonathan Cooper is also ineligible for PUP. He could go on the injured reserve list with a designation for return later in the season.
- San Francisco 49ers: The 49ers have 10 wide receivers on their 75-man roster, tied for most in the NFL even after placing Michael Crabtree and Mario Manningham on the PUP list. Four or five of their remaining cuts figure to come at that position. The 49ers' wide receivers are the oldest in the NFL by average age thanks to Anquan Boldin (32) and Kassim Osgood (33). If Osgood sticks on the 53-man roster, special-teams contributions will explain why. Boldin, Jon Baldwin, Kyle Williams, Quinton Patton and Marlon Moore would be by picks if the team kept five.
- Seattle Seahawks: Defensive end Chris Clemons remained on the roster instead of shifting to the reserve/PUP list, another indication the team thinks he could return from knee surgery sooner rather than later. The PUP designation would allow Clemons to resume practicing between Oct. 15 and Nov. 19, but all signs point to Clemons being ready before that. Seattle needs him, too. Bruce Irvin faces a four-game suspension. Cliff Avril has a hamstring injury that could affect his availability for the opener. Keeping Clemons in play for Week 1 makes sense as long as there's a chance he could be ready by then.
- St. Louis Rams: The Rams are a little heavy at tight end while Cory Harkey recovers from injury and Lance Kendricks gets back to full speed following knee surgery. The Rams' roster appears pretty normal overall. The decisions looming appear straightforward. That could change as the team continues to build its depth.
The overall number isn't most important to the Rams right now. For the first time in recent memory, they have five young receivers they're eager to build around: Tavon Austin, Chris Givens, Brian Quick, Stedman Bailey and Austin Pettis.
Pettis, Givens and Quick are returning. Austin and Bailey are new. Danny Amendola, Danario Alexander, Brandon Gibson, Greg Salas and Steve Smith are among those gone from this time last year.
For a closer look at rosters for the Rams and their NFC West rivals, check out my latest roster file, ready for download here.
Enjoy your Saturday -- the second-to-last one before training camps open.
That provides a chance for me to pass along an updated version of the 49ers' roster for download. This Excel file features 27 columns for every 49ers player, plus those no longer on the roster (dating to roughly 2007, when I started maintaining theses for each team).
The chart shows positional counts for the 49ers' active roster and practice squad.
San Francisco signed to its practice squad two linebackers (Cam Johnson, Michael Wilhoite), two offensive linemen (Kenny Wiggins, Al Netter) and two defensive linemen (Matthew Masifilo, Tony Jerod-Eddie). The 49ers also signed receiver Nathan Palmer and safety Michael Thomas.
Johnson provides practice depth at outside linebacker. Wilhoite was one of the NFC West's more impressive young inside linebackers during preseason. Thomas was a player 49ers veteran safety Donte Whitner singled out as likely to stick on the practice squad, with a chance to develop into a regular-season contributor.
The New York Jets claimed tight end Konrad Reuland off waivers. The Indianapolis Colts claimed offensive lineman Mike Person.
A big-play threat with chronic knee trouble, Alexander received a waived/injured designation. That means he'll revert to injured reserve upon clearing waivers or become a free agent if the team reaches an injury settlement with him.
Injury settlements can involve the team paying a negotiated rate less than the player's salary for that season. The player then becomes a free agent once he's healthy, allowing him to play again that season. In that case, the Rams could consider re-signing him.
Brandon Gibson, Brian Quick, Chris Givens, Danny Amendola, Steve Smith and Greg Salas are the receivers I consider most likely to stick on the initial 53-man roster. Austin Pettis will not count against the 53-man limit while serving the remaining two games of a four-game suspension.
There were no surprise moves among the Rams' cuts, but depth at defensive tackle took a hit when Trevor Laws landed on injured reserve with a partial tear in his patella. Michael Brockers and Kendall Langford are the starters. The team added William Hayes in free agency. Undrafted free agent Matt Conrath has played extensively in the preseason.
The chart shows positional counts for the Rams at the 75-man roster deadline. The team must cut to 53 players by Friday.
This sent me through the rosters I maintain for every team in the league.
Sure enough, the Rams' offensive linemen averaged 306 pounds, the 26th-highest figure in the league.
Teams do not always provide accurate weights for their players. I update weights periodically; some of the ones in my spreadsheet surely need tweaking. The 306-pound average for the Rams stands as a rough estimate.
The fact that the Rams would rank in the bottom half of the league gives us at least a general indication of where they stand in overall bulk up front.
The top offensive tackle in the draft, USC's Matt Kalil, is listed at only 295 pounds. But at 6-foot-7, he has potential to add quite a bit of weight. I'd be surprised if he weighed beneath 300 pounds by the time he began his pro career.
"Carroll and general manager John Schneider made 284 roster transactions in 2010 and are continuing to shape a roster with bigger, faster, talented young players this season," the team's weekly in-season news release says. "Of the 53 players currently on the active roster for this week's game, only 10 were with the team in 2009."
This matches the information I've tracked for every NFL team. The Seahawks are not the only ones to have made a nearly complete makeover since 2009. Every NFC West team ranks among the NFL's top 10 in most new players since the final week of the 2009 regular season.
A few numbers within the numbers:
- Five players who started for Seattle in Week 17 of the 2009 season remain with the team. Cleveland (six), Buffalo (seven), Carolina (eight), Washington (eight) and New Orleans (eight) are the only other teams with fewer than 10. The Saints were an exception because they rested some starters in that final game.
- Seattle (five), Detroit (five), St. Louis (five) and Baltimore (six) have the fewest backups from 2009 Week 17 remaining on their rosters. Philadelphia (seven) and Washington (seven) were not far behind.
- The most consistently strong teams over the past few years naturally rank near the bottom in turnover. They've had good players, for the most part, and kept a lot of them.
The chart below breaks down the new players by team. By new players, I mean those who weren't on the 53-man roster or injured reserve in Week 17 of the 2009 season. These numbers are through Monday, plus a move or two from Tuesday, including David Garrard's release.
If NFC West teams are improving, they'll retain their coaches and turnover numbers should decline over time.
Consider the chart below for use as a baseline.
It shows team-by-team averages for age heading into the signing period. The averages affect players with contracts for 2011, plus restricted free agents, franchise players and rookie draft choices. The averages do not reflect veteran contract agreements or terminations that were pending heading into the day. Rookie free agents were also excluded.
I'll update with those transactions as they become official.
Separately from this blog item, I also produced a chart showing team-by-team average ages for unrestricted free agents.
The New England Patriots' UFAs led the way with a 31.64 average, ahead of those for Tennessee (31.1), Chicago (30.84) and Seattle (30.81). The Seahawks will get younger this offseason by failing to re-sign some of their older UFAs. Denver (27.56), Carolina (27.85) and Buffalo (28.2) had the youngest UFAs this offseason.
Just passing along as a reference point.
Seattle in particular has sought to get younger.
I finally had time to update them Saturday night.
One revelation: The Atlanta Falcons left for their road trip in Seattle with a 53-man roster featuring a league-high 43 players back from last season. The Seahawks went into the weekend with a league-low 22 such players. The rest of the league averaged 33.3.
The counts reflect players currently on 53-man rosters who spent Week 17 last season on active rosters or injured reserve. Seattle has had the lowest figure all season, a reflection of their efforts to remake the roster under a new head coach.
Detroit and Washington have 25. Seattle is the only team with fewer.
Counts for the rest of the NFC West heading into the weekend: St. Louis (32), Arizona (31) and San Francisco (30). The 49ers' numbers dwindled later in the season after the team placed Joe Nedney, Frank Gore and Eric Heitmann on injured reserve.
The chart, based on information from rosters I maintain for every team in the league, shows how many players from 2009 Week 17 rosters and injured reserve lists now reside on the same teams' 53-man rosters (but not IR). The numbers measure turnover and attrition -- by design, injuries, etc.
The bottom line: Seattle has the freshest 53-man roster in the league. The team has subtracted Red Bryant (IR), Deion Branch (trade), Julius Jones (released), Leroy Hill (IR), Mansfield Wrotto (released) and Max Unger (IR) since the 2010 regular season began.
Teams will continue shuffling their rosters as the Sept. 12 regular-season openers approach.
For now, though, we've gotten some answers. The chart shows positional counts for NFC West teams on the initial reduction to 53.
Counts for defensive linemen and linebackers vary by scheme.
The Arizona Cardinals and St. Louis Rams might be able to use another offensive lineman (teams generally carry nine). The Seattle Seahawks appear light at linebacker after releasing Tyjuan Hagler and placing Leroy Hill on the reserve/suspended list.
Seattle might be inclined to keep only two quarterbacks. The team could sign one to its practice squad and/or bring back J.P. Losman later if an injury creates a need.
Not so within the division.
The chart shows NFC West teams favoring players from the Pac-10, Big Ten, SEC, ACC and Big 12 -- in that order -- after filling out their rosters with draft choices and undrafted free agents.
My totals reflect NFL roster counts after 27 of 32 teams, including all four NFC West teams, signed undrafted free agents (all teams will sign them, but signings aren't official in some cases).
The Seahawks clearly favor the Pac-10. They have 26 of the division's 51 players from the conference coach Pete Carroll called home from 2001 through 2009. The 49ers and Rams seem to favor the Big 12 more than the Seahawks or Cardinals. All four teams tap into the Big Ten close to equally.
Seattle has led the NFL in players from the ACC over the past few years. The Rams have closed ground. The Rams also have the division's only five players from the Division II Lone Star Conference (quarterback Keith Null, linebacker K.C. Asiodu, linebacker Freddie Harris, defensive tackle Jermelle Cudjo and defensive end Eugene Sims).
The chart names every conference with at least five players in the NFC West. The Cardinals have an additional 15 players from other conferences, most in the division. Seattle has the division's only three players from Independent programs (Julius Jones, Golden Tate and John Carlson, all from Notre Dame).
All conference listing reflect current affiliations. Totals count signed players, unsigned franchise players and unsigned restricted free agents.
Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando
The Cardinals' roster became a little more whole when Kurt Warner agreed to terms on a new contract. I've updated each NFC West team's 26-column roster to include that move and every other move in the division to this point.
The Seahawks' and Rams' rosters have the most potential for turnover through unrestricted free agency in the division. I calculate turnover potential by adding the following totals for each team:
- Unrestricted free agents signed from other teams
- Unrestricted free agents leaving for other teams
- Players acquired by trade
- Players lost by trade
- Unsigned unrestricted free agents
I then subtract the number of UFAs who have re-signed with each team. The higher the remaining number, the higher potential for change through free agency. This is an imprecise method of measurement but it does give me a feel for which teams are experiencing significant turnover. The teams with the four highest numbers all have new head coaches.
The league average was 9.9 through the Warner signing. Denver (22) and Detroit (21) had the highest numbers, followed by the Seahawks (17), Rams (16), Patriots (15) and Jets (14). The 49ers (10) and Cardinals (8) are right around the league average.
The Broncos are in high gear. By my count, they have signed 10 of the first 39 unrestricted free agents who have changed teams this offseason. Seven of the 10 are in their 30s. The rest of the league has signed a combined three UFAs in their 30s from other teams: T.J. Houshmandzadeh (Seahawks), Moran Norris (49ers) and Keith Brooking (Cowboys).
Note: I have not updated starting lineups recently. That information is incomplete.
Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando
Receivers comprise 15 percent of the Rams' roster after the team signed Derek Stanley from the practice squad today.
The move makes St. Louis the only team in the league with more than seven receivers on its 53-man roster. Teams are carrying fewer than six on average.
The imabalance reflects injuries to receivers Drew Bennett, Dane Looker and Keenan Burton. Each remains part of the 53-man roster, but none is expected to play agains the Redskins in Week 6. Bennett and Looker are "out" while Burton missed practice again Friday.
The chart shows how many players at each position teams in the division are carrying on its 53-man roster, with league averages in the column farthest to the right. Note that the 49ers' total for defensive backs counts Allen Rossum, who is mostly a return specialist. I have also reclassified the 49ers' Justin Smith as a defensive lineman after listing him as an outside linebacker.
9:30 AM ET Detroit Atlanta 1:00 PM ET St. Louis Kansas City 1:00 PM ET Houston Tennessee 1:00 PM ET Minnesota Tampa Bay 1:00 PM ET Seattle Carolina 1:00 PM ET Baltimore Cincinnati 1:00 PM ET Miami Jacksonville 1:00 PM ET Chicago New England 1:00 PM ET Buffalo New York 4:05 PM ET Philadelphia Arizona 4:25 PM ET Oakland Cleveland 4:25 PM ET Indianapolis Pittsburgh 8:30 PM ET Green Bay New Orleans