The 2020 NFL season kicks off Thursday, Sept. 10, when the Kansas City Chiefs play host to the Houston Texans. It has been an irregular offseason to say the least with OTAs and minicamps canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic. While teams have been in training camp since late July, they have had only 14 padded practices and no preseason games. Despite having less information than in previous seasons, teams still have to make roster decisions and cut to 53 players by 4 p.m. ET on Saturday.
With that in mind, ESPN’s NFL Nation projects what those rosters will look like below. Roster projections are ESPN+.
The defensive line will be a strength for the Bills in 2020, with several players who can play both inside and outside. Expect Buffalo to get creative with its blitz schemes and personnel groups. Harrison Phillips takes over as Buffalo’s primary run defender for Star Lotulelei, who opted out of the 2020 season. Ed Oliver ideally takes the next step after a good rookie season. Read more from Marcel Louis-Jacques
The Dolphins biggest question at quarterback is when Tua Tagovailoa will take over for Ryan Fitzpatrick and whether the rookie is ready to be the No. 2 quarterback active on game days from Week 1. Barring a late move to trade Josh Rosen, the Dolphins seem set to carry three QBs into the season. Read more from Cameron Wolfe
Matthew Berry has no plans to draft a Patriots running back given the crowded backfield in New England.
Things get interesting at wide receiver, as the question can be asked, “Who consistently creates separation?” It looks as if the Patriots need some help here, and while Gunner Olszewski and Devin Ross have flashed at times, they’ve also been inconsistent with drops. Mohamed Sanu might be hard-pressed to make the roster, especially considering his $6.5 million salary. Read more from Mike Reiss
The top storyline on cut-down day will be the backup quarterback issue, complicated by Joe Flacco‘s neck injury. Flacco, rehabbing from April surgery, still hasn’t been cleared to practice. Under the new injured reserve rules, he can be put on IR and designated for return after Week 3. That seems like the best plan. Read more from Rich Cimini
Barring a trade, the Ravens will carry four tailbacks on their season-opening roster for the first time in John Harbaugh’s 12 seasons. Mark Ingram remains the starter, and J.K. Dobbins has flashed throughout camp, especially in the passing game. They make a formidable one-two punch. Gus Edwards, a 700-yard rusher in each of the past two seasons, provides excellent depth to a Baltimore offense that ran the ball 98 more times than any other team in the league last season. Justice Hill, who has missed a chunk of camp with a soft-tissue injury, will have to bide his time this season. Read more from Jamison Hensley
Wide receiver is easily the deepest unit on the roster. From starters Tyler Boyd and A.J. Green to camp breakouts such as Mike Thomas and Auden Tate, the Bengals have several at their disposal. Scotty Washington, an undrafted rookie, has shown promise and worked with Joe Burrow during the pre-draft process. Given how much the Bengals use formations that feature three or more receivers, it makes sense to keep eight wide receivers. Read more from Ben Baby
Jake Trotter looks at the Browns’ key additions that can potentially help Baker Mayfield prove he’s the long-term answer at quarterback.
The secondary has been decimated by injuries, with Kevin Johnson suffering a lacerated liver, then Grant Delpit rupturing his Achilles, leading to season-ending surgery. Terrance Mitchell (knee), Greedy Williams (shoulder) and M.J. Stewart Jr. (hamstring) are all missing time, as well, a troubling situation with less than two weeks to go before the opener. Read more from Jake Trotter
The Steelers will keep six receivers led by JuJu Smith-Schuster. Ryan Switzer‘s spot was the most in question before camp. Switzer’s rapport with Ben Roethlisberger remains, but he injured his foot in a closed practice and is described as day-to-day. He has missed practice, and if the injury is severe, the Steelers might have to come up with a backup plan for his spot. Ray-Ray McCloud is a good option to fill in, and he has shown flashes in special-teams work. Read more by Brooke Pryor
For the first time since Bill O’Brien took over as head coach in 2014, the Texans will have all five starters on the offensive line returning. Laremy Tunsil said his goal for the season is to fix the penalties that plagued him in 2019. Roderick Johnson makes the roster as insurance for Charlie Heck as a reserve tackle. Read more from Sarah Barshop
Philip Rivers has made a relatively smooth transition to the Colts after spending the first 16 seasons of his NFL career with the Chargers. The Colts have to hope they won’t be getting the 23-turnover Rivers from last season. While they keep Jacoby Brissett as his backup, Jacob Eason, who was selected in the fourth round, is the only quarterback under contract for the Colts beyond this season. Read more from Mike Wells
The Jags will keep six receivers led by DJ Chark. Keelan Cole has had a very good camp. Laviska Shenault has been impressive, and it’ll be interesting to see how the Jaguars use the former Colorado standout this season. Dede Westbrook has been limited by a shoulder injury, and if the Jaguars opt to keep only five receivers, he’d be the likely casualty. Read more from Mike DiRocco
Ryan Tannehill was brought back on a four-year, $118 million deal. At one point, it looked as if Logan Woodside would be the backup quarterback. But midway through camp, rookie Cole McDonald was released and the Titans signed Trevor Siemian, a six-year veteran, to add much-needed experience. Siemian’s 25 career starts gets him the nod over Woodside, who is yet to play a down in a regular-season game. Read more from Turron Davenport
Phillip Lindsay, Melvin Gordon and Royce Freeman have gotten the majority of the work in camp. The question about workload for Lindsay and Gordon will be asked every week until one truly separates from the other. Undrafted rookie LeVante Bellamy flashed some good vision in camp and would be a quality addition to the practice squad. Read more from Jeff Legwold
Patrick Mahomes and Chad Henne are set at quarterback, and the Chiefs would keep just two in a normal year — but this season is anything but usual. It makes little sense for the Chiefs to bring in a veteran like Matt Moore late in the offseason, as they did, if they planned to send him home at the end of training camp. Jordan Ta’amu heads to the practice squad. Read more from Adam Teicher
The Raiders will keep three quarterbacks as starter Derek Carr has looked extremely sharp. Marcus Mariota, not so much. In fact, he has had trouble throwing the ball and became day-to-day late in camp because of an undisclosed issue after dealing with offseason shoulder and ankle injuries. Still, a source said each injury was “fine.” Nathan Peterman was stashed on IR last season. Might the Raiders do the same with Mariota now to get an extra roster spot? Read more from Paul Gutierrez
The Chargers will keep 10 offensive lineman and are hoping for far more stability. The additions of Bryan Bulaga and Trai Turner on the right side will help immensely. Just as important, though, will be a healthy Mike Pouncey in the middle. He should especially help an offense that ranked 28th in rushing yards per game last season. The biggest question is how Sam Tevi will transition to left tackle. Read more from Alden Gonzalez
The Cowboys will keep only two running backs — Ezekiel Elliott, Tony Pollard — because teams can call up players from the practice squad with a more ease than in the past. Rico Dowdle or Darius Anderson could be brought up later in the week to fill a need if necessary. But to potentially go heavier at another position at the start, they can go lighter at tailback and not carry a true fullback. Read more from Todd Archer
Wayne Gallman‘s strong performance in the scrimmage Friday solidified his spot at running back and made explosive undrafted rookie Javon Leake expendable. Gallman is a gamer who can carry the load should something happen to Saquon Barkley. The Giants also like Dion Lewis‘ ability to pass protect and catch the ball out of the backfield. The skills of the trio seem to work together. Read more from Jordan Raanan
Field Yates believes the Eagles’ injuries around Zach Ertz negatively affected him last year and he will bounce back in 2020.
Nate Sudfeld remains as Carson Wentz‘s backup, though Jalen Hurts could get more playing time than Sudfeld. It’s easy to picture the Eagles using their 2020 second-round pick by the goal line in spots. Hurts has shown the threat he poses as a runner can freeze a defense and open up lanes for the running backs. Read more from Tim McManus
Washington will keep two quarterbacks, Dwayne Haskins, Kyle Allen. That means Alex Smith‘s comeback falls short — at least as of the final roster cuts. There hasn’t been enough time for him to prove he could play in a game if needed. Smith would have been helped by a preseason game or more 11-on-11 work. He could be put on injured reserve. Haskins is clearly ahead of Allen but still has a lot to prove. Read more from John Keim
The situation at quarterback is cut-and-dried. Either Nick Foles or Mitchell Trubisky is the starter. The other will be the backup. Veteran Tyler Bray is expected to be on the practice squad. Read more from Jeff Dickerson
Kenny Golladay, Marvin Jones Jr. and Danny Amendola are locks at receiver. Marvin Hall is Detroit’s deep option, and Quintez Cephus largely had good practice days in camp, able to win the ball in the air and had precise route running. Jamal Agnew was the big question, having transitioned from cornerback in the offseason. But his ability to run routes and create separation put him on the roster and perhaps as the eventual replacement for Amendola in the future. Read more from Michael Rothstein
The Packers will keep three quarterbacks. Tim Boyle has been fantastic throughout training camp, meaning the Packers won’t even need Jordan Love to be their backup. Meanwhile, Love has looked like a rookie who had no in-person offseason program and a truncated training camp. Read more from Rob Demovsky
Jeremy Fowler breaks down the details of the Jaguars’ trade of DE Yannick Ngakoue to the Vikings.
There’s still time for Dalvin Cook to sign the extension offered by Minnesota. The Vikings were cognizant of his workload throughout training camp as negotiations stalled and that allowed us to see what an expanded role will look like for Alexander Mattison, whose role in the passing game could help Minnesota maintain its status as one of the best at executing screens. Ameer Abdullah‘s function as a runner will be limited, but he finds his way on to the roster as the kickoff returner. Read more from Courtney Cronin
The Falcons will keep three tight ends including starter Hayden Hurst, a former first-round draft pick of the Ravens. At 260-plus pounds, he can ward off defenders with his body. Former XFL player Khari Lee opened some eyes at camp with his soft hands, but returning player Jaeden Graham is probably Hurst’s backup. Luke Stocker is the blocking tight end. Read more from Vaughn McClure
Look for seven receivers to start the season because of injuries. The top three are no-brainers with DJ Moore, Robby Anderson and Curtis Samuel. Pharoh Cooper also returns kickoffs, so he should make it. Read more from David Newton
Wide receiver is the toughest position to handicap once you get past Michael Thomas, Emmanuel Sanders, Tre’Quan Smith and Deonte Harris. Veteran Bennie Fowler is a proven asset as both a blocker and special-teamer. But it’s hard to leave off veteran Austin Carr and promising young receivers Emmanuel Butler, Lil’Jordan Humphrey, Marquez Callaway and Juwan Johnson. Read more from Mike Triplett
Jenna Laine breaks down Tom Brady’s first scrimmage as a member of the Buccaneers, detailing all three scoring drives and the positive reviews from coach Bruce Arians.
Tom Brady will of course start for the Bucs, with Blaine Gabbert continuing to serve as a backup after missing all of last season because of a shoulder injury. Ryan Griffin will serve as the third quarterback, whom coach Bruce Arians is still considering quarantining due to the coronavirus pandemic. Read more from Jenna Laine
The Cardinals will keep six receivers led by Larry Fitzgerald and DeAndre Hopkins. The Year 2 jump will be essential for receivers such as Andy Isabella and KeeSean Johnson. Hakeem Butler won’t make the cut as the Cardinals’ rotation won’t be as deep as many think as Hopkins, Fitzgerald and Christian Kirk will get most of the snaps. Read more from Josh Weinfuss
The Rams will keep six at outside linebacker, and Samson Ebukam and Leonard Floyd will start. But it’s the rookie Terrell Lewis who has teammates buzzing. “I remember the first day I saw him, I said, ‘That’s a grown man,'” Rams nose tackle Sebastian Joseph-Day said. “I say, ‘Sheesh. Alabama, I don’t know what they feeding you over there.” At 6-foot-5, 262 pounds, Lewis must continue to develop his skills but has the physical traits to become a special pass-rusher. Read more from Lindsey Thiry
The Niners are loaded on the defensive line and could easily keep 10 players with someone like undrafted rookie Darrion Daniels as well. Defensive tackle Jullian Taylor is unlikely to be ready coming off a knee injury, so he could come back later in the season. Ronald Blair‘s status for Week 1 is up in the air. If he’s ready to go, he will stay. If not, don’t be surprised if they keep nine defensive linemen and add him to the mix when he’s cleared to go. Read more from Nick Wagoner
This defensive line will include Bruce Irvin in passing situations. With no obvious primary pass-rushing threat like Jadeveon Clowney, the Seahawks need Irvin to give them something close to the career-best 8.5 sacks he had last year in Carolina. Darrell Taylor has been dealing with a leg injury since college, so early expectations of the second-round pick should be tempered. With Taylor’s injury and suspect depth behind Jarran Reed and Poona Ford, defensive end and tackle are areas where Seattle could make an addition. Read more from Brady Henderson