Although many NFL teams have a good sense of who they’re going to release before training camp and the preseason, clubs can often use the summer to make small changes to their roster. But the alterations have to end at some point as NFL teams follow the league’s roster cutdown deadline.
When is the NFL’s roster cut deadline in 2023, and what happens to the players who get released? Here’s everything you need to know.
When Is the NFL’s 53-Man Roster Cut Deadline?
In 2023, the NFL’s 53-man roster cut deadline is Aug. 29 at 4 p.m. ET. By that time, every franchise must reduce their roster from 90 players — the maximum allowed during the summer — to 53.
Teams are free to cut players throughout training camp and the preseason if they choose. Some clubs have already begun to part ways with some players, while more teams could take action this weekend. But every squad has to meet the NFL’s roster requirement by Aug. 29.
This deadline represents a change from recent years. In March, NFL owners approved a measure enacting a single roster cutdown deadline instead of multiple dates, as the league used in previous years.
For example, during the NFL’s COVID-affected seasons, the league deployed the following schedule:
- First deadline: rosters reduced from 90 to 85 players
- Second deadline: rosters reduced from 85 to 80 players
- Third deadline: rosters reduced from 80 to 53 players
How Are Players Removed From 53-Man Rosters?
The most common way for players to be removed from rosters is by being cut. A veteran player with at least four years of NFL service time is “released,” while a player who has not become a vested veteran is “waived” and sent to the NFL’s waiver system.
Players can also be placed on various injured lists. Players on the physically unable to perform (PUP) or non-football injury (NFI) lists do not count toward the 53-man limit. Those injured players are required to miss the first four games of the season.
NFL clubs can also stick injured players on injured reserve (IR). Like players on the PUP and NFI lists, players on IR will have to miss at least four games to begin the year.
However, a player must be carried over to a team’s initial 53-man roster before being placed on IR. If a player is sent to IR without first making a 53-man roster, he is not eligible to be activated later in the season.
Additionally, players who are serving suspensions at the start of the year do not count against 53-man rosters.
What Happens to Players Who Are Cut?
Veterans with at least four accrued seasons are free to immediately sign with another team once they get cut at the roster deadline. There is no waiting period.
Those with fewer than four seasons of experience are placed on waivers, and the other 31 NFL teams will have the opportunity to place a claim. The NFL’s waiver order is in reverse order of the 2022 final standings.
If a player passes through the waiver system without being claimed, he will become a free agent and can sign with another club.
The majority of players placed on waivers are not claimed. Many of those players will be signed to practice squads on Wednesday after waivers are processed.