NFL 53-man roster projections: Predicting regular-season moves for all 32 teams

Sports

The 2022 NFL season kicks off Thursday, Sept. 8, when the defending Super Bowl champion Los Angeles Rams host the Buffalo Bills (8:20 p.m., NBC). Teams finished mandatory minicamps last week and will open training camps at the end of July.

Like last season, there will be three preseason games to help inform decisions about which undrafted free agents might be worth keeping, which veterans are on the decline and which positions need the most reinforcements.

NFL Nation reported from minicamp for the first time since 2019 and has projections about what’s to come.

Each roster projection file is content.

AFC EAST

With so many of last year’s starters returning, there are plenty of familiar names secured on the 53-man roster before training camp begins. But that also means limited opportunities for newbies to make the team, so competition on the back end of the roster will be intense. Alaina Getzenberg’s 53-man roster projection


The Dolphins are essentially running it back on defense while completely revamping the offense on the field and the sideline. With major changes at running back, wide receiver and offensive line, Miami is poised to improve from last season’s pedestrian offensive performance. Marcel Louis-Jacques’ 53-man roster projection


Coach Bill Belichick said everything the Patriots are doing on offense is to make it as easy as possible for quarterback Mac Jones, but have they done enough? Meanwhile, on defense, the questions are if the linebacker corps is strong enough and if rookie Jack Jones (fourth round, Arizona State) might make a run at a starting cornerback spot. Mike Reiss’ 53-man roster projection


One year after focusing on youth and player development, the Jets will bring more of a win-now approach to building the roster. Improved depth will make for some tough cuts and trade possibilities. Wide receiver Denzel Mims, a 2020 second-round pick, is under the spotlight. If offensive tackle Mekhi Becton falters in camp, it could prompt GM Joe Douglas to take a big swing for a replacement. Rich Cimini’s 53-man roster projection

AFC NORTH

There won’t be many open spots after the Ravens return their injured starters and introduce 11 draft picks. But it’s difficult to make an accurate 53-man projection because this Ravens roster is still in flux. Which veteran pass-rusher will get signed? Which free-agent wide receiver is brought in? Jamison Hensley’s 53-man roster projection


Cincinnati’s roster is mostly settled after last year’s run to the Super Bowl, the Bengals’ best season in 33 years. But depth questions at wide receiver and on both sides of the line of scrimmage will produce the most intriguing camp battles once the coaching staff starts to evaluate the roster. Said coach Zac Taylor: “You have to see that consistency over the course of training camp leading up to that first game to really know where you’re at.” Ben Baby’s 53-man roster projection


While the future of quarterback Deshaun Watson, who faces 24 civil lawsuits alleging inappropriate sexual conduct during massage sessions, remains murky as the NFL investigates whether he violated its code of conduct policy, a loaded Browns roster around him is mostly set heading into training camp. Jake Trotter’s 53-man roster projection


Kenny Pickett and Mitch Trubisky are locks to make the 53-man roster, but how will the Steelers round out the rest of the quarterback room? Mason Rudolph is talented enough to make the roster, but he might be better suited on another team, opening the door for rookie Chris Oladokun to earn a spot. Brooke Pryor’s 53-man roster projection

AFC SOUTH

After back-to-back four-win seasons, general manager Nick Caserio continues to audition players for down the road. In the draft, he added some weapons for quarterback Davis Mills. The Texans hope to know by the end of the season whether Mills can be their quarterback of the future. Sarah Barshop’s 53-man roster projection


The Colts brought in yet another starting quarterback in Matt Ryan. But the focus in training camp could be more on the reshaped defense and the health of All-Pro linebacker Darius Leonard. Mike Wells’ 53-man roster projection


The roster is much more talented than it was last season, especially at receiver and linebacker. With two new receivers (Christian Kirk and Zay Jones), new tight end Evan Engram and a healthy Travis Etienne Jr. at running back, second-year quarterback Trevor Lawrence should make significant strides in 2022. The defense has almost been entirely flipped in two seasons, highlighted by linebackers Travon Walker, Devin Lloyd and Foyesade Oluokun. Michael DiRocco’s 53-man roster projection


The A.J. Brown trade to the Philadelphia Eagles was the biggest offseason move, as Tennessee will turn to veterans Austin Hooper and Robert Woods along with rookie Treylon Burks to solidify the passing game. The defense remains intact for the most part, with second-year cornerback Caleb Farley set to take a starting spot after Janoris Jenkins was released. Turron Davenport’s 53-man roster projection

AFC WEST

The Broncos don’t know how they want the roster to look. There are questions on the offensive line, and they’ve been coy about whether Randy Gregory will be ready for full participation in training camp after shoulder surgery. It’s early with plenty of work to be done, but start with quarterback Russell Wilson, safety Justin Simmons and go from there. Jeff Legwold’s 53-man roster projection


The Chiefs will have to make decisions between youth and experience at many positions this year. They seemed determined to get younger by trading away one veteran, Tyreek Hill, and declining to re-sign another, Tyrann Mathieu. At the same time, they drafted more players, 10, and made two first-round choices for the first time since 2008. Adam Teicher’s 53-man roster projection


A playoff team that has a new GM, coach and vision? Raiders owner Mark Davis went the Patriot Way in bringing in GM Dave Ziegler and coach Josh McDaniels and insisted it was not a rebuild. Rather, Davis said, it was taking the next step. The 53-man roster the regime puts together, though, will tell the tale and set the vision going forward, with big-ticket acquisitions Davante Adams and Chandler Jones joining the likes of Derek Carr and Maxx Crosby. Paul Gutierrez’s 53-man roster projection


The Chargers’ roster is stacked with big names across the board — from quarterback Justin Herbert to receivers Keenan Allen and Mike Williams to outside linebackers Khalil Mack and Joey Bosa to cornerback J.C. Jackson and safety Derwin James Jr. The biggest question facing the Bolts is how that talent will come together and if they can navigate one of the toughest divisions to make their first postseason appearance under second-year coach Brandon Staley. Lindsey Thiry’s 53-man roster projection

NFC EAST

Piecing together a 53-man roster for the Cowboys after the offseason program was not too difficult in terms of certain numbers at certain positions, like two quarterbacks, six receivers and five linebackers. There are no big names on the bubble, but by the time the final cuts roll around in September, there are a few spots where they could add veteran depth to shake things up, like wide receiver, the defensive and offensive lines, running back and kicker. Todd Archer’s 53-man roster projection


The Giants have a lot of wide receivers in the mix, if they’re all healthy. Who among the bunch (Kenny Golladay, Sterling Shepard, Kadarius Toney, Wan’Dale Robinson and Darius Slayton) isn’t on the roster when all is said and done? Jordan Raanan’s 53-man roster projection


With the addition of A.J. Brown and strong play from DeVonta Smith as a rookie, the Eagles’ receiver position is in as good of shape as it has been in years. Is Jalen Reagor, the former first-round pick, a lock to make the team? The Eagles have reason to hold on to him after investing so much, but with guys like Greg Ward, rookie Britain Covey and John Hightower pushing for spots, he needs to turn on the jets. Tim McManus’ 53-man roster projection


For a team coming off consecutive seven-win seasons, it’s surprising almost all of the starting jobs are settled entering training camp. The Commanders have upgraded their skill position talent, and their offense appears deeper than their defense. But there will be key battles for roster spots at tight end, running back (do they keep four?) and receiver (will they keep seven for a second year in a row?), and do they have enough depth in the defensive back seven? John Keim’s 53-man roster projection

NFC NORTH

Chicago will have upwards of 14 new starters on offense and defense. That’s a lot of turnover for a team at the beginning of a rebuild, with a number of key positions — especially wide receiver and offensive line — that remain in flux headed into training camp. Courtney Cronin’s 53-man roster projection


Many players are returning from last season’s 3-13-1 team as the Lions try to build a culture. There aren’t a ton of heated roster battles, but it’ll be interesting to see how key guys return from injuries, including former No. 3 overall pick Jeff Okudah and veteran outside linebacker Romeo Okwara — who are both coming off season-ending Achilles injuries. Eric Woodyard’s 53-man roster projection


The Packers no longer have a clear-cut WR1 now that Davante Adams is in Las Vegas, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have options. Allen Lazard seems like the safe bet to start the year as the No. 1. Randall Cobb is the only other proven returner. How much Sammy Watkins has left, whether Amari Rodgers takes a Year 2 jump and who among the rookies (Christian Watkins, Romeo Doubs and Samori Toure) steps up will determine how many receivers make the roster. Rob Demovsky’s 53-man roster projection


If coach Kevin O’Connell plans to upend the quarterback depth chart, it wasn’t obvious during spring drills. Longtime backup Sean Mannion took the majority of second-team reps despite available film of his underwhelming Week 17 start last season. It seems like Kellen Mond would need a strong showing in training camp to unseat him. Kevin Seifert’s 53-man roster projection

NFC SOUTH

The Falcons have a roster in transition, and the last unsettled veteran is 2017 Pro Bowl linebacker Deion Jones. While he’s an obvious trade candidate, over $13 million in guaranteed money might make that less attractive for some suitors. How Atlanta handles him could reverberate throughout the roster. Michael Rothstein’s 53-man roster projection


The uncertainty is whether quarterback Sam Darnold competes against rookie Matt Corral or another veteran for the starting job. Carolina drafted Corral after failing to trade for Cleveland’s Baker Mayfield. Mayfield might still be the best option, but the Browns would have to release him or eat most of his 2022 salary for him to be in play. David Newton’s 53-man roster projection


Unlike last year, there won’t be a quarterback battle in Saints camp, with Jameis Winston set as the starter. Instead, the biggest roster drama will come from the injury report with Winston, Taysom Hill, Michael Thomas, Marcus Davenport, Payton Turner and Marcus Maye in various stages of recovery. Mike Triplett’s 53-man roster projection


Unlike last season, when the Bucs returned all 22 starters on offense and defense and struggled with injuries down the stretch, this roster has several new faces and is under new leadership with head coach Todd Bowles. Can this group do enough to give quarterback Tom Brady one more ring, especially if there is no Rob Gronkowski? Jenna Laine’s 53-man roster projection

NFC WEST

This year’s 53-man roster is, for the most part, filled. Training camp will be used to iron out a few minor position battles — unless center Rodney Hudson doesn’t show up for camp. If that happens, Arizona’s offensive line will need a major retool. Without some familiar faces, like Chandler Jones and Chase Edmonds, the pass-rushers and running backs rooms will have more opportunity for competition. All eyes will be on quarterback Kyler Murray — if he shows up. Josh Weinfuss’ 53-man roster projection


The Rams tried to keep their Super Bowl core together for 2022 and beyond, extending several stars while adding players, such as receiver Allen Robinson II and linebacker Bobby Wagner. But will wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. return before the start of training camp to improve Los Angeles’ receiving corps? Sarah Barshop’s 53-man roster projection


The 49ers have plenty to figure out this summer as they aim to trade quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo and keep receiver Deebo Samuel. Neither will be easy, but if the Niners can do both, they will again have a deep and talented roster with no shortage of tough decisions to make come training camp, especially at cornerback and on both lines. Nick Wagoner’s 53-man roster projection


As speculation lingers about the possibility of Seattle adding Jimmy Garoppolo or Baker Mayfield, coach Pete Carroll says the Seahawks are in “good shape” at quarterback. So it seems they’re content with letting Geno Smith and Drew Lock continue to compete to replace Russell Wilson. The next big roster question: whether running back Chris Carson will come back from neck surgery. Brady Henderson’s 53-man roster projection

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