New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton spoke with WWL Radio's Bobby Hebert and Kristian Garic on a variety topics Wednesday evening, including the proposed CBA with a 17-game season and expanded playoffs. Specifically, Payton was asked if he believes a longer season would impact NFL roster sizes, Gameday inactives.
WWL Radio: With the reports of the NFL regular season increasing to 17 games, do you think there will be increases to the 53-man roster? Will inactives go away?
Payton: "Before we get into the roster size, the purpose for inactives are to create a level playing field relative to injury. Let's say in week three, we're playing Atlanta, they're relatively healthy, but we just had three players go down in week two, you don't want to go into the game with one team, with all 53 up and the other team (shorthanded). It gives you that buffer where chances are your injured players are going to fall into your inactive, total count."
Currently, the rules that we played under last year, it was 53, on your total team roster and then you're turning in your inactives that bring you to 46. All right? Each week seven inactives get turned in. I would say team by team, generally speaking, there's a handful of injured players on that list and then a handful of healthy players on that list. But each team plays then with a healthy 46. I mean, rarely do you get past seven injured players where you have to bring some other people in and, and there are certainly exceptions.
Now, I don't know the specifics and I'm not in any of these meetings relative to the upcoming CBA, but I know there's been discussion, with the game day, first off, the total roster of 53, and then also what you have available, on gameday. I think take the offensive line, alright. It's a unique position because generally speaking, if everyone's healthy, the same five guys play, the backups don't play. Now they might play on a certain special teams or a jumbo (package), but it's the one position where, Hey, if everyone stays healthy, your five starters are in and so it's easy then to dress seven and I would say throughout the league, there are some teams that dress eight. We have dressed eight before. If maybe one or two of the starters might be nicked up, you don't want to get caught shorthanded, but when you have seven and you get a guy injured, now you're down to six and these things happen and all of a sudden, you're down to five.
I can recall one time here where, all of a sudden you're thinking, hey, if we get one more offensive linemen injured, we have to play this game here. It's going to be a tight end going in there, or you're going to be an unbalanced (line) , but it's going to be uncomfortable for a lot of people, alright? Starting with the quarterback and so I think that one of the things you could look for is that the idea of that gameday roster expanding a little bit in one of them having to be an offensive lineman, each team has to bring eight, cause eight, you're in pretty good shape. It's hard to get past eight offensive linemen. But, when you look at a college game, it's pretty interesting and you look at the sidelines, shoot, there's a hundred, 105 (players), you might have some doubled up numbers. There's someone else in the number seven or number nine, there's someone else in the 24 and then when you look at a pro sideline, when one side of the ball's out on the field, it's kind of like crickets over there. You know and you have to play special teams and so I think it would be a safe bet that there'll be some changes there relative to health and safety and that would be something that we would see with the new CBA when in fact, when that time comes and when they unveil it."