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Competition for Roster Spots To Be Fierce

On the eve of the New Orleans Saints' three-day rookie mini-camp in Metairie, the Black-and-Gold currently has 86 players on their roster.

Or six more players than the team will be able to take training camp in late July.

Competition will be fierce when the 64 players invited to the rookie camp don their uniforms for the first time on Friday morning, as the team's six 2008 draftees join 16 undrafted free agents that have agreed to terms with the team, as well as 36 non-roster tryout invitees and six other first-year players currently on the roster.

The NFL's mandated training camp roster size of 80 players under contract means that the team will have to pare down the roster before heading to training camp. So the question that many will have is why the team currently has 86 players under contract.

The answer is that unsigned players do not count against the roster size, and since the draft picks have not yet signed their contracts, the team is able to get to a better look at the rookie free agents that have signed, as well as the tryout players.

Once the draft picks begin signing contracts, the Saints will have to make corresponding roster reductions.

In past seasons, roster sizes were increased during training camp due to the caveat that the NFL granted players exemptions that were allocated by the team to NFL Europe. However, since the league discontinued operations following the 2007 season, those exemptions simply no longer exist.

While there have been some discussions in league circles about expanding the training camp roster to 86 players, the measure wasn't voted on at the NFL's annual meetings in April. According to some in the know, the topic could once up at the league's meetings later this month.

Thus it would hardly be a surprise to see some of the tryout players make a name for themselves and open eyes this weekend and perhaps garner a coveted spot on 86-man roster, but it will almost assuredly mean that a player currently under contract will be subjected to the waiver wire.

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