NFL Transactions | Understanding Cut-Down Dates and Roster Limits
By Dennis Agapito, JetNation.com
The NFL changed the rules regarding roster size increasing them from 80-to-90 members in April of 2012. While the roster size is larger those who are considered a member of the year-round roster increased as well:
The old 80-player roster limit included the following players on these lists: Active, inactive, practice squad, and exempt lists. Reserve lists: injured, physically unable to perform, non-football illness, non-football injury, suspended, future.
Source: NFL Constitution and Bylaws
The 90-player roster limit, which goes into effect … (4/24/12) at 4:00 PM ET, includes players on the active, inactive, practice squad, and exempt lists, and the following reserve lists: injured, physically unable to perform, non-football illness, non-football injury, suspended (for less than one year), future, (New; Emphasis Added) drafted-unsigned, exclusive rights, first refusal rights, unrestricted free agents with an individually negotiated right of first refusal, franchise, and transition.
Source: NFL Communications
During the offseason, prior to first cuts, most if not all of the 90-man roster is on the active list. Under NFL bylaws first active list cut-downs are on Tuesday after the third preseason weekend with final cuts on Saturday after week four of the preseason, which usually ends on Thursday.