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NFL roster moves – Final 53-man player projections for all 32 teams


The 2021 NFL season kicks off Thursday, Sept. 9, when the Tampa Bay Buccaneers play host to the Dallas Cowboys (8:20 p.m., NBC). Teams have been in training camp since late July, with 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.

With the regular season approaching fast, teams have to make roster decisions and cut to 53 players by 4 p.m. ET on Tuesday. With that in mind, ESPN’s NFL Nation projects what those rosters will look like below. We updated this page after each of the final preseason games this weekend.

Each roster projection file is ESPN+ content.

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Most of the 53-man roster wasn’t difficult to piece together, but there will be questions at running back (three or four?) and cornerback (does versatile linebacker Isaiah Simmons allow Arizona to keep five cornerbacks instead of six?). But the biggest question is this: Will pass-rusher Chandler Jones be on the roster for Week 1? Josh Weinfuss’ final 53-man roster projection


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The backup quarterback situation with AJ McCarron’s torn ACL might throw the back of the roster into flux. Newly acquired Josh Rosen is in contention. Don’t be surprised if Atlanta is active on waivers and potentially trades to shore up its depth — particularly at quarterback, offensive line and defensive line, where there are questions behind the starters. Michael Rothstein’s final 53-man roster projection


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Most of the intrigue is on the offense, where the Ravens have to figure out whether they will keep a third quarterback (if Trace McSorley has recovered from a back injury), determine who is going to be the third running back and figure out who will get the last spot on the offensive line. Jamison Hensley’s final 53-man roster projection


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There isn’t a lot of turnover from last year’s roster, but they will feature their deepest receiver room and deepest defensive line under GM Brandon Beane and coach Sean McDermott. Their defensive front is now loaded with linemen who can play inside or out. Marcel Louis-Jacques’ final 53-man roster projection


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It might seem like kicker is the biggest issue with the Panthers from all the midweek activity with Joey Slye in a slump, but that’s the least of their problems. There is still uncertainty about whether Sam Darnold can rebound from three bad years in New York and Cameron Erving can finally solve the revolving door at left tackle. And then there is the overall lack of depth on defense. David Newton’s final 53-man roster projection


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The most roster intrigue is at cornerback, where veteran Desmond Trufant is on the bubble to make the squad. Trufant missed time due to personal reasons and has not had the opportunity to make an impact in the preseason. The door is wide open for veteran Artie Burns to challenge Kindle Vildor for the starting cornerback spot opposite Jaylon Johnson. The recent trade of Anthony Miller and release of Javon Wims have cleared up most of the speculation at receiver. Jeff Dickerson’s final 53-man roster projection


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The big question surrounding the Bengals: What will the offensive line look like and will the unit be good enough to protect Joe Burrow? Xavier Su’a-Filo and Quinton Spain are the front-runners for the starting spots at offensive guard. With the veterans beating out rookie guard Jackson Carman, it could create a numbers squeeze at other places on the roster. Ben Baby’s final 53-man roster projection


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Unlike in recent seasons, Cleveland’s roster was largely settled before camp, thanks to an offense that returned 11 starters. Still, a few key vets from last year, most notably running back D’Ernest Johnson and receiver KhaDarel Hodge, face tough battles to keep their spots. Jake Trotter’s final 53-man roster projection


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The Cowboys will do some moving and shaking after final cuts on Tuesday to make sure injured players like Neville Gallimore and Sean McKeon can return at some point during the season. The most difficult decisions will be in the secondary, where they have built some depth. Todd Archer’s final 53-man roster projection


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The quarterback competition, won by Teddy Bridgewater, stole the attention, but after a quality offseason this roster is far better than the one that finished the 2020 season. The additions include stars returning from injury like Von Miller and Courtland Sutton, free agents like Ronald Darby and Kyle Fuller, and a rookie class headed by cornerback Pat Surtain II. Jeff Legwold’s final 53-man roster projection


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There are not a ton of household names on the roster, but the new regime, led by first-year coach Dan Campbell, is looking to establish a hard-nosed identity with the organization in a complete rebuild. These new-look Lions have brought in players with a chip on their shoulder, and have seemingly nothing to lose since no one is expecting much out of this team. Eric Woodyard’s final 53-man roster projection


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The Packers have such a strong roster that there isn’t a lot of drama at the top. About the only eye-catching decision will be whether to keep a third quarterback. Kurt Benkert dazzled at times, but do they really need to burn a spot on the 53? Unless they are afraid he will get claimed off waivers, they will probably try to get him through to the practice squad. Rob Demovsky’s final 53-man roster projection


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As the Texans get closer to the start of the regular season with Deshaun Watson eligible to take part in all team activities, general manager Nick Caserio has to decide what to do with the quarterback when the team must get down to 53 players. Sarah Barshop’s final 53-man roster projection


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This was one of the least competitive training camps the Colts have had in recent years when it comes to roster spots. The kicking competition didn’t have much flair, as Rodrigo Blankenship beat out Eddy Pineiro. Receiver could end up being the deepest position on the team. Mike Wells’ final 53-man roster projection


The loss of running back Travis Etienne takes away a big-play element and the Jaguars don’t really have anyone on the roster to replace that. Expect them to mine the waiver wire after final cuts to see if they can improve there and at tight end. Michael DiRocco’s final 53-man roster projection


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The most interesting decisions are on the offensive line, where the Chiefs added eight strong roster candidates who weren’t with the team last year. So they might keep extras there or look to deal one or more of the backups. Adam Teicher’s final 53-man roster projection


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The key always is staying healthy. Coach Brandon Staley has been very careful with his players — activation/stretching/exercises like planks and high-stepping have been key to no serious injuries, unlike in other offseasons. There are still starting positions to be decided on, but there are choices at least. Shelley Smith’s final 53-man roster projection


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The Rams lacked much roster drama throughout the preseason with most starting positions accounted for entering training camp. The biggest question was whether they would be able to quickly develop depth in the offensive backfield following Cam Akers’ season-ending Achilles tear. The Rams answered that question Wednesday when they acquired running back Sony Michel from the New England Patriots. Lindsey Thiry’s final 53-man roster projection


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Las Vegas rebuilt its offensive and defensive lines this offseason, and how its roster decisions in the trenches play out could determine if the Raiders improve upon last season’s 8-8 finish. Paul Gutierrez’s final 53-man roster projection


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The Dolphins need Tua Tagovailoa to take the next step in 2021 and have given him some pass-catchers who can create separation and make things happen after the catch. If he doesn’t improve this season, it probably won’t be because of the talent around him. Marcel Louis-Jacques’ final 53-man roster projection


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The Vikings will keep three quarterbacks, but don’t be surprised to see a new face backing up Kirk Cousins once Minnesota gets a look at other veterans who become available next week. Neither Jake Browning nor Kellen Mond did enough in preseason games to earn the QB2 role, and one of them finds himself off the roster on Tuesday. Courtney Cronin’s final 53-man roster projection


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Just two quarterbacks shows how far Mac Jones has come in a short period of time; if he’s not the No. 1, he’ll definitely be the No. 2. And defensive back might be a sneaky spot where the Patriots are looking for an addition across the NFL. Mike Reiss’ final 53-man roster projection


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The Saints will have at least 10 new starters in Week 1, thanks to Drew Brees’ retirement, an offseason salary-cap purge and a handful of untimely injuries and suspensions. They will look to add depth at cornerback, defensive tackle, tight end and kicker from players cut around the league. And there is some intrigue about whether they will keep veteran skill-position players like Latavius Murray, Devonta Freeman and Chris Hogan. Mike Triplett’s final 53-man roster projection


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The Giants have some really difficult decisions at wide receiver, running back and edge rusher. It’s even possible they carry two fullbacks! The offensive line will likely be adjusted after the final cuts. Jordan Raanan’s final 53-man roster projection

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Rob Ninkovich believes Jameis Winston can lead the Saints to a successful season if he cuts down on the turnovers.


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With the No. 2 waiver priority and many holes to fill, the Jets will be in a roster-churning mode over the next few days. They also will be looking to trade for an edge rusher, perhaps using one of their receivers as a bargaining chip. Jamison Crowder has the most trade value and could attract teams. Also, don’t rule out a veteran backup at quarterback. Rich Cimini’s final 53-man roster projection


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The receiver group is a question mark for a couple of reasons. For one, it’s super young and inexperienced, and needs one or two unproven players to emerge. There are some tough personnel decisions looming. Tim McManus’ final 53-man roster projection


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Some of the hottest battles of the Steelers’ training camp were for backup jobs. While Mason Rudolph appears to have won the No. 2 QB job, the Steelers seem poised to keep Dwayne Haskins on the roster to develop this season. Quiet camps from running backs Benny Snell and Jaylen Samuels might have cost them jobs as the Steelers look to give the secondary and linebackers more depth. Brooke Pryor’s final 53-man roster projection


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One benefit of the Niners’ unique quarterback situation? It could allow them to keep just two and provide an opportunity for increased depth at thinner spots like receiver and the secondary. Nick Wagoner’s final 53-man roster projection


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The usual questions are there when it comes to the Seahawks’ roster: Will they keep five receivers or six? Who will claim the final spots at cornerback and running back? But the biggest question this year is about whether left tackle Duane Brown will play amid his contract dispute. Brady Henderson’s final 53-man roster projection


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With all 22 starters returning from their Super Bowl LV win and nearly every key reserve back, the Bucs have only about eight or nine roster spots up for grabs in 2021. It all comes down to who brings the most value on special teams. Jenna Laine’s final 53-man roster projection


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GM Jon Robinson turned receiver and outside linebacker into team strengths by acquiring Julio Jones and Bud Dupree. There will be some solid players who get released during roster cutdowns. Turron Davenport’s final 53-man roster projection


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Several receivers will be cut who would have made it a year ago, or in a few cases, did make the roster. Defensive back is another tough area to call. It also will be interesting to see what Washington does at tight end with Sammis Reyes; he still appears a ways off, but will the coaches want to risk losing a player they think can develop? John Keim’s final 53-man roster projection

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