Final NFL 53-man roster projections: How we think cuts will shake out by Tuesday

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’ll update this page after each of the final preseason games end this weekend, and all 32 roster projections will be live Sunday.

Each roster projection file is ESPN+ content.

Arizona Cardinals

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 them 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

Carolina Panthers

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

Detroit Lions

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

Indianapolis Colts

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 flare, 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

New Orleans Saints

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

Pittsburgh Steelers

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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