A 53-man roster under the salary cap using actual cap numbers with certain parameters, which are below, was assembled at the start of the season. The composition of the roster has changed dramatically in this end of the season version because considerable weight was given to 2021 performance.
Patrick Mahomes is no longer the choice at quarterback, although he was selected to the Pro Bowl for the fourth straight time. Injuries derailed wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins’ and cornerback Jaire Alexander’s seasons.
1. The salary cap for the roster is $193.7 million. The actual NFL salary cap is $182.5 million for the 2021 league year. The number being used is the league’s average adjusted salary cap, according to NFLPA data. Each NFL team’s working salary cap varies largely because unused cap room can be carried over from one year to the next. For example, the Browns have the NFL’s highest adjusted salary cap at $211.9 million largely thanks to carrying over a little less than $30.4 million of cap room, which is the most in the league. The Super Bowl LV champion Buccaneers have the lowest at $182.05 million, which is about $450,000 below the league-wide number. Situations like this typically occur when incentives earned during the previous season, that weren’t counting on the cap, get accounted for without sufficient cap room carrying over from the prior year to make up the difference.
2. The NFL Draft is an essential element of roster building for NFL teams. It is here also. One player from each round of the 2021 draft must be on the roster. This means both Bengals wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase, the fifth overall pick, and Cowboys linebacker Micah Parsons, the 12th overall pick, can’t be selected. A choice also had to be made between Cowboys cornerback Trevon Diggs and Colts running back Jonathan Taylor for the 2020 second-round pick.
The number requirement drops by one player…