Offense vs. defense as the Texans battle the Panthers.
Offense vs. defense as the Texans battle the

How an NFL team builds its roster: 53 spots divided by position

From the giant linemen to the speedy wide receivers, an NFL game day roster is 53-man army with all different types of skills.

Are you a fan of the NFL and found yourself wondering how they build their rosters? Maybe you are looking at NFL betting odds and wondering how the roster impacts them? Or perhaps you are curious and want to know more? Whatever your reason might be, we have the answer for you!

We know how challenging it can be to find information about the NFL, especially useful information that can help you place more strategic bets. Often, we find ourselves having to guess instead of placing well-informed bets.

Well, no more! Today we are here walking you through how an NFL team builds its roster. Keep reading to find out more and use this information to place better bets on the NFL.

How an NFL team builds their roster

Let’s get straight into it! An NFL team has 53 spaces on its roster and 16 practice squad spots to fill in 2021. Deciding who makes the cut can be challenging for coaches and managers, especially with so many fantastic players out there! Previously, NFL teams have been allowed 90 players in their roster, so these cuts are going to be tricky!

To make these cuts and build their rosters, NFL coaches and managers will look at a few factors to determine who makes the cut. Mainly they will assess a player’s performance in previous seasons, training, and any other factors they deem relevant. Often players might go through a few rounds of elimination; reducing the size of their rosters is challenging and can take teams weeks to decide who should make the cut.

Now that NFL teams have a much smaller roster than before let’s look at how they build these rosters. They will have a certain number of players for each position, depending on the team. Below are some general ways in which an NFL team will build its roster. Remember how they do this will vary from team to team, depending on how they play, but this should provide you with a better insight into how they do it!


The recent trend is to dress just two quarterbacks for a game. Most teams will employ a wide receiver or running back as an emergency extra quarterback if needed, eliminating the need for extra quarterbacks. Typically, you will see three quarterbacks on a roster if the team tries to hide some young talent from other teams.

Running backs

Four running backs are commonly part of an NFL team's roster. The injury history of the position means teams are likely to have four running backs, just in case. Some teams will also include a fullback in this number too.

Wide receivers

Most teams will keep six wide receivers on their active roster, dressing five for a game. You might see six wide receivers in a game if they are a warrior on special teams, giving the team extra speed and talent on the field!

Tight ends

Some teams have more, but most will keep three tight ends on their roster. You will have the starter, a threat in all phases of the game, a backup blocking tight, and a hybrid who can help on special teams. All three tight ends are likely to be active in the game and will contribute to gameplay massively. They will also have a tight end on their practice squad in case of injury.

Offensive lineman

Most teams would love ten offensive linemen in an ideal world, but recent cuts to the rosters mean many are down to 9. They will look for versatile linemen too that can be dressed for other positions if required due to injury.

Defensive lineman

For defensive teams, they will look for nine players as a defensive lineman on their rosters. They will usually dress eight players for the day, having one on standby should there be an injury. They are likely to have an extra on the practice squad too.


This is the core of an NFL’s special teams unit, and they will look to have seven linebackers in their roster. Typically, only three will play in a game but have others on the sideline in case. Having good quality linebackers helps solidify your defense and is why many teams look to keep as many as possible.

Defensive backs

Most teams will keep ten defensive backs but only dress eight on game day. However, they only have six linebackers; they might dress more to make the numbers. NFL teams will build their roster with four starting type cornerbacks, including them every week. They will also have starting safeties leaving four spots that can be filled depending on the adopted defensive game plan. For example, they might add more cornerbacks or more safeties. This usually comes down to the team’s preference and the plays they are going to adopt.

They will then add one kicker, punter, and long snapper to complete their 53 man rosters.

Final word

And there you have it, how an NFL team builds their roster! Whether you want to create your own roster or use this to bet more strategically on the NFL, we hope you found this useful!

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