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Breaking Down the 53 Man Rosters

While there may still be a little juggling of NFL rosters in the next 48 hours I wanted to take a look at some different aspects of the team now that most of the teams have their final rosters set for the year. Since we are still waiting on some key contracts to come in we will hold off on the financials until a little later this week but here are a few different aspects of the rosters in the NFL.

Rosters By Age

The average age of the NFL rosters this year is just 26.07 years old without QB’s and 26.17 with QB’s. It is clearly a young mans game with over 50% of the NFL no older than 25 this year. Here is the breakdown by age group.

Not including QB’s,  the oldest team in the NFL will be the Bears with a roster just under 26.9 years old. They are tied with the Ravens for the second most 30+ year old players with 13. The Saints lead the NFL in that category with 15.  The Dolphins will have the youngest team in the NFL at 25.16 years and just 1 player over 30. The Rams, Vikings, Browns, and Jaguars all come in no older than 25.5 in 2020.

TeamAvg. Age W/O QBAvg Age W/QB
Football Team25.7925.89
NFL Avg26.0726.17

Rosters by Draft Status

I always think one of the biggest misconceptions in the NFL is the length of time a draft pick sticks in the NFL and even more than that how long they contribute to the team that drafted them. Here is the breakdown of NFL drafts by round since 2016 and the percent of players still on a roster in 2020.


Let’s go one step further and see just how many are still on the team who drafted them.


The reality of the draft is really for most of the draft you are working with a 3 year window for the players to contribute in some manner. Teams probably should be focusing more on top 100 or so draft picks than the overall quantity of draft picks.

Here is how our rosters this year will break down by draft round.

Not surprisingly the biggest group of players in the NFL comes from the undrafted pool as that is a much larger group of players. That doesn’t mean that UDFA is an easy path to success (about 12% of all 2020 UDFAs actually made the team this year) but too often we discount those players due to their draft status. The thing I always find most interesting when doing this breakdowns is that the round 2 and 3 numbers are very similar.

The team with the most 1st round picks on their team this year is the Falcons with 17. The next closest has just 12. The Jets, Chiefs, and Rams all pull up the rear with just 5. As for UDFAs the Saints and Broncos have 21 players who started out undrafted. The Bengals have just 8 and rank last in that category. Here is the breakdown of each team’s roster by draft status.

TeamUDFARd 1Rd 2Rd 3Rd 4Rd 5Rd 6Rd 7
Football Team1710468664
NFL Avg.

Homegrown Rosters

I define a homegrown player as someone who either was drafted by or signed as an undrafted free agent by their original team. The league average is just over 60%. The team with the most homegrown players are the Ravens and Vikings, who both have nearly 80% of their roster beginning their career with that team. Other teams over 70% are the Packers, Rams, and Cowboys.

The worst teams in this category are the Browns at just 43.1% followed closely by the Jets at 44.6%. These are two franchises that are run chaotically at the highest levels and are both hoping that new GMs make it happen this year. The Giants, Bills, and Cardinals are the other teams under 50%.

As for teams that select the best overall the Ravens and the Patriots always stand out and it is no different this year. The Ravens have 83 players on a NFL roster this year while the Patriots have 74. They are the only teams over 70. If you pull their own roster out of the mix they have 38 and 35 players on other rosters, the only teams over 30.  The Panthers and Jets are at the bottom of the charts with 44 and 45 respectively. The Panthers have just 16 outside of their own team.

TeamHomegrown% HomegrownOriginally SelectedSelected on Other rosters
Football Team3760.7%5720
NFL Avg.34.260.1%56.822.7

Rosters By Snaps

The Bills come back with the most intact roster in the NFL with 82.7% of their snaps returning from 2019. They added what would amount to 22.9% of their snaps via free agency, trade, etc… so any contributions they get from rookies or players who were hurt last year is just gravy. The Colts are the only other team close to the Bills but they should come with an asterisk since they are benching their starting QB from last year. The Steelers and Bucs both will have a lot of stability as well but will rely on players who are rookies or coming back from injury.

Carolina only brings back 44.2% of their snaps from last year, the only team under 50%. They signed a ton of players who could provide nearly 36% of the lost snaps but they will still need 20% contribution from others. New England comes back with 54% but added almost nobody in free agency so they will need nearly 40% to come from rookies and injured players last year like Cam Newton.

Here is the breakdown of each team this year.

TeamReturning SnapsNew Vet SnapsShortfall
Football Team64.0%24.2%11.9%
NFL Avg.69.5%17.3%13.3%

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Cutdown Day Updates

Today is always a bittersweet day as the NFL makes their cuts down to 53 players. On one hand it marks the turn into the regular season which is exciting for fans and players alike but on the other hand over one thousand players will lose their chance to play this year. A few notes on our schedule at OTC.

We won’t process cuts until they become official. Today will be loaded with news of players who are being cut, expected to be cut, and so on. Some actually wind up on IR. A few may be traded. A few are not actually cut. It is easier to just wait to process everything.

Due to the high volume of transactions expect to see some delay in updating everyone. We’ll get there by Monday for certain but expect a lot of changes over the next 48 hours.

Practice squad players will start signing tomorrow afternoon once they clear waivers. Again we will process these when official and we have completed the initial cuts. There are a lot more practice squad spots than usual so on the bright side expect more rookies than usual to get a chance at making a roster.

It is important to remember that the 53 man today is also not going to be the 53 man tomorrow. The rosters in the NFL are very fluid this time of year and really are not set until Tuesday afternoon which is the day the players earn a pay check.

Salary cap calculations change on Tuesday as well. On that day they move from the 51 man offseason system to the full roster in-season accounting system. Expect every team to lose at least $3.5 million in cap space. We will switch over to the in season system earlier than Tuesday and will put an update on the front page when we do so.

This is the last week where we usually see last minute contract changes and extensions. This take time to get information on so if you have any information to share please let me know and we will update it. Once we get the cuts all processed Ill probably also post an update on the cap numbers in place at the time.

Finally due to all the salary cap stuff going on right now the podcast will be late this week. I probably wont record until Tuesday or Wednesday night and will look at the final rosters and do some (bad) predictions for the season. So if you have any questions you can let me know.

We should have some good stuff on tap for OTC this year. We will do the weekly valuations again hopefully starting in week 1 but definitely in week 2. We should have some added materials by the end of the year in the premium section that I think you will also enjoy looking at and find useful for research too.

As always thanks for the support and continuing to use OTC.

Negotiations Break Down Between Zach Ertz and the Eagles

Negotiations between Zack Ertz and the Eagles on an extension which have seemingly been on-again, off-again since last November are back in the off-again mode according to Ian Rapoport:

The tweet would certainly seem to indicate that Ertz’ side is a bit upset with the negotiation and its not much different than the approach that went on with George Kittle and the 49ers which worked out in Kittle’s favor. However, the wording here is what I found interesting and really is the only reason I wanted to write about it because it shows how offers can be twisted around to suit ones needs.

There are a few key lines here, all of which are designed to paint the Eagles in a bad light. And perhaps they are negotiating in bad faith here but this is how I would look at what is being said.

  1. The Eagles offered less guaranteed money than in November.

It is important to remember that the market dynamic has changed since last November. Since that time we saw the Kittle contract obliterate the market and perhaps more applicably the Travis Kelce extension move the needle on the market for 3rd contract tight ends. Teams usually use guarantees as a trade off on values. What that means is that a team may offer you less guaranteed money for a higher valued contract or more guarantees on a lesser valued deal. Did the Eagles just pull guarantees or did they make a offer a much bigger overall number with the concession being guarantees? Kelce for example earned barely any new guarantees in his contract extension.

2. The backloaded offer.

Clearly that is a phrase that tells you that the offer is just throwing money at the end of the deal. Basically this is what the Kelce contract is. It grows from $11.75 to $13.25 to $15.5 to $17.5M to reach the big number annual value. From the Eagles perspective if you are keeping up with the market that is the market. Ertz has every right to ask for something different but it would be fair to know how the November offer in terms of yearly cash flows compares with the backloaded one. If the front end cash is better than before I don’t think you infer that it is insulting.

3. Has less cash over the next 4 years than Austin Hooper

This is where we, most likely, get into the new vs old money debates. Austin Hooper signed a free agent contract that will pay him $42 million in new money over the next four seasons. Ertz is under contract for the next two years at $14.91 million (he can increase that slightly with escalators). The “new contract” would kick in in 2022, which would make the four year total to be the two existing years plus the two new years.

As a point of reference Kelce will earn $25M in new money in the first two years of his new contract. If the Eagles offered Ertz an 8% increase over Kelce, $27M over two years, Ertz would come in lower than Hooper over 4 years. $27M over two would be the highest amount paid to a tight end over two years not named Kittle (Kittle will earn $33.75 million). If you want to compare apples to apples Hooper will earn $23 million over the first two years of his contract.

Now none of this is to say that this is what happened or what is being offered just that sometimes when you see news like this break you should think critically on it before jumping all over a team or a player. The Eagles may have very well made a junk offer but the way that this is written makes me think that there is more than meets the eye to the situation.

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Alvin Kamara May Put Free Agency Status in Jeopardy

Alvin Kamara, scheduled to earn $2.133 million in the final year of his rookie contract, has apparently missed the last few days of camp according to Adam Schefter of ESPN.

Kamara’s decision could put him in an odd spot if the Saints, who only have around $3 million in disposable cap space, do not extend Kamara. The CBA has rules regarding unexcused absences from the team and a violation of the rules will strip a player of an accrued season toward free agency.

The more well known rule states that a player who does not report to camp on time will lose an accrued season. This is why hold outs are not common in the first four years of a players career. The second rule concerns the player who reports to the team and then holds out. This is open to interpretation however as the player must miss a “material period of time” to lose an accrued season.

What is a material period in the NFL? I am sure a team would argue a day. I’d argue six days if we are talking about the preseason. Players are allowed to miss five days of camp and not be subject to forfeiture in a different section of the CBA which at least somewhat implies that could be the threshold.

However it’s important to understand that the rules regarding accrued seasons is meant to be more harsh than forfeiture provisions and in general the NFL is very harsh on players holding out as it pertains to fines. Kamara for instance could be fined $40,000 for each day missed. In any event the accrued seasons question could be answered in a hearing after he returns to practice.

This is a risky play by Kamara because he would lose his unrestricted free agent status if he loses an accrued year. His situation is different than all the first round picks who have held out because they have five year contracts so they all have one accrued year they can give up. Running back’s have a hard enough time finding money in free agency and it would be even harder to find money when you need a team willing to part with a 1st or 2nd round draft pick to sign you. The difference between a RFA tender and franchise tag would likely be at least $3.5 million for Kamara.

As I have talked about before players like Kamara are impacted by the lack of success of the big money running backs after signing extensions. While a few are out there who may change the narrative, the fact is the first two who reset the pay scale, Todd Gurley and David Johnson, were both failures and that scares other teams. The running back salary crash of the early 10’s was all related to failures of big ticket player after big ticket player at the position.

Kamara situation is made even more difficult when you consider that the Saints have limited cap space this year and are millions over the salary cap in 2021. Many may see this year as the last run for the Saints before they move on in a post Drew Brees world and rebuild their team. Would they really want a $13 million a year running back to rebuild around? By holding out he is putting a lot of faith that the Saints want to do that. I’m not sure they are.

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Jaguars Release Leonard Fournette

The Jaguars completed the final touches on dismantling their roster by announcing the release of running back Leonard Fournette early this morning. Fournette was in the final year of his $27.15 million contract he signed as a rookie and set to become a free agent at year’s end.

Originally Fournette’s contract was fully guaranteed but after multiple run ins with the Jaguars organization which included a suspension the Jaguars voided the guarantees. This is, as far as I know, being contested by Fournette in a grievance. The amount at stake here is $4,167,393.

Fournette only has three seasons of work so his contract will be subject to waivers. It is possible that the Jaguars announced this move so early today in the hopes that someone with a low priority on the waiver wire may offer a trade at the last minute. That would be ideal for Jacksonville because it would take the grievance out of their hands for the most part as the new team would take on Fournette’s contract.

If Fournette clears waivers expect the Jaguars to take on a dead money number of $4.471 million for his signing bonus proration and a $1.79 million charge for the grievance. That second charge will change based on the outcome of the grievance.

The Jaguars are one of the rare franchises in the NFL that do not include offsets on their rookie guarantees, so they would receive no money back if Fournette wins the grievance and signs elsewhere. Ideally they need him to be claimed or traded for to 100% protect themselves financially.

Fournette’s drafting by the club in 2017 was more or less the downfall of the Jagaurs even though it occurred in a season where the team wound up going 10-6 and showing the most promise it had shown in a decade. The teams decision to draft him meant they would bypass the QB position in a draft that included Deshaun Watson and Patrick Mahomes. Instead the Jaguars opted to chase the potential of failed starter Blake Bortles who they would extend a year later in a move that was more about salary cap space and lack of options than anything else.

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Yannick Ngakoue Agrees to Paycut

Yannick Ngakoue has agreed to a near $6 million pay cut to get out of Jacksonville, signing a one year, $12 million contract in place of his $17.788 million franchise tag to help facilitate a trade to the Vikings.

This is not a typical move for elite level players. Last season Jadeveon Clowney took a $1 million pay cut to move to Seattle while under tender as a franchise player and he was the first to take under the tag since Jason Pierre Paul’s injury forced him into a new contract in 2015. Given the Vikings lack of cap space and limited ways to create room this was a must to get the trade to happen now and Ngakoue into camp.

The consequences of this decision could be much more than just a $6 million pay cut. Has Ngakoue remained on his tender it would cost the Vikings $21.345 million to tag him next season. Unless they negotiated tag value protection into his contract it will now be in the ballpark of $16 million depending on the salary cap level next year. In essence that makes this an $11 million gamble that the Vikings will extend him in the offseason.

Part of the logic in agreeing to the pay cut likely lies with Ngakoue having no desire to be in Jacksonville. Each week he held out he would leave behind $1 million in salary and if never traded could have been out $8 million and still needing to play in Jacksonville. It also avoids the risk of his tag just tolling if the season was cut short before he signed it.

This would have been a much different situation for he and the Jaguars if he was willing to report and play nice for a few weeks. He would have earned his full salary and still probably wound up traded while the Jaguars would have gotten a better package.

However you can’t put a price on happiness and perhaps the financial risk is worth the chance for a fresh start with a new team.

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