We've gone through some of the position battles and depth chart at several of our key positions. While those discussions are fruitful for who is starting and who is backing up, it is always difficult to figure out who might stick around from that group as a 3rd guy or special teams guy. Those sorts of decisions tend to be made in the context of the entire roster rather than a specific position group.
We will know the real answer by Saturday, but I thought we might take a cut at it now in light of how the preseason has progressed so far. Outside of wasting some of your time, it can't really hurt to take a preliminary cut at who is going to be on the 53 man roster once Saturday evening rolls around.
So if you're interested read on!
First of all, let's review some roster size basics. By the time the regular season starts, the Chargers will have 53 players on their roster. On game day, the coaches will pick 45 players to be "active." These active players will suit up and can play. The inactive players will be on the sideline in street clothes. The exception to this is the 3rd string QB who is labeled as the emergency QB. He is technically inactive, but is still suited up. He can be activated during the game if the first two QBs get injured. If he comes into the game, the first two QBs are not allowed back in. You don't have to have an inactive emergency QB. Theoretically, you could have 3 active QBs (no one does this) or you could only have 2 QBs on your 53 man roster and have a WR or RB effectively be your third QB (I know Marty did this a few years and the Colts have done it forever). No other inactive player can be activated during the game.
They will also have a practice squad of up to 8 additional players. The practice squad is composed of players who have been cut and gone through waivers without being signed by any other teams and are then signed to the practice squad. Not every player is eligible for the practice squad. The eligibility rules are:
- No more than 3 years on the practice squad.
- No more than nine games on the active list in a previous season.
- from the Collective Bargaining Agreement p.170 (interesting read if you are into this kind of stuff)
If the guys who are cut get cut Saturday around noon, they can be resigned to any team's active roster or practice squad on Sunday afternoon. All right, so you know the basics, so let's start counting!
First of all, the starters who we all agree will be starting opening day (injuries excepted of course)
Now, the backups, critical specialty guys (Sproles, Cason, etc.), and guys in position battles where they are sure of making the team even if they aren't starting.
Let's throw in our top 3 draft picks and assume they are making the team no matter what.
We are through 39 spots on the roster and now we are to the spots where guys might need to worry about not making the roster. The veterans have the inside track on making the team, but could be dislodged by someone else, or even squeezed because of roster pressures elsewhere (For instance, what if Bignham isn't going to play until week 5, we would need to keep an additional DL until Bingham comes back. That could squeeze someone at a different position). First of all, here is where we stand depth-wise at all the positions (needed starters in parenthesis)
- K/P (2) - 2
- QB (1) - 3
- RB (1) - 2
- FB (1) - 1
- TE (1) - 2
- OT (2) - 3
- OG/C (3) - 5
- WR (2) - 5
- DL (3) - 6
- OLB (2) - 4
- ILB (2) - 2
- S (2) - 1
- CB (2) - 3
Here is how I see the rest of it shaking out. I've added in a practice squad eligible (pse) column to mark guys that can be placed on the practice squad. If a guy is practice squad eligible, the team may be inclined to cut him and keep the non-eligible guy (all other things equal). Then they hope the guy makes it through waivers and they sign him to the practice squad and essentially keep both. The guys without a number by their name are the guys who don't make the team.
If the numbered guys at left make the roster, our position counts look like this:
QB(3) - Rivers, Volek, Whitehurst
RB/FB(5) - Tomlinson, Sproles, Hester, Bennett, Johnson
C/G/T(9) - Hardwick, Dielman, McNeill, Clary, Forney, Vasquez, Mruczkowski, Dombrowski, Shelton
TE(3) - Gates, Manumaleuna, Wilson
WR(5) - Jackson, Chambers, Floyd, Naanee, Davis
DL(7) - Castillo, Williams, Cesaire, Bingham, Martin, Scott, Johnson
OLB(5) - Merriman, Philips, English, Applewhite, Tucker
ILB(4) - Burnett, Cooper, Siler, Dobbins
S(5) - Weddle, Hart, Gregory, Ellison, Oliver
CB(3) - Cromartie, Jammer, Cason
ST(4) - Scifres, Kaeding, Binn, Osgood
There are plenty of debatable items above. Does Dombrowski beat out Green? Scott beat out Nwagbuo? Siler beat out Beckwith? I really don't know. I intentionally leaned the roster towards the vets, but that could shake out differently. Having Bingham injured but still on the roster means we have more DL than we might normally want. Three CBs seems like a bad idea, but maybe Oliver and Weddle can play it in a pinch.
Cutting the list of players down to 53 players leaves some good players on the street. I'm pretty sure I won't be right, but this is as good a place as any to start from.