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How many roster spots are there in an NFL team?

As with any team sport, the group is a sum of its parts. Yet, how many players make up a football team? From those who are active to those who aren’t, let’s find out.

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Join us for a look at the make-up of a football team in the NFL today. Whether you’re a casual fan or die hard to the core, the details of the game could always do with a refresher. So, let’s take a look at what a football team consists of and how many players there are.

The team’s roster size

In the NFL, each team consists of a 55-man roster. To be clear, 53 of those players are listed as active and of those only 48 are registered to play on each game day. When it comes to the game itself, there are 11 starters for each team and they are announced prior to the contest. If you didn’t know, an NFL team’s roster is separated into three main groups and they are as follows:


Given that a team never attacks or defends in the same play, or with the same players, there are individual teams for each one along with their own coaching staff as well. The team that has possession of the ball and is attempting to score points via touch downs or field goals is the offense. Well known offensive positions include the quarterback, running back, wide receiver and tight end to name a few.


Known formally as the defensive unit, this team is basically charged with stopping the above-mentioned offense. They do so by blocking, tackling and if they anticipate plays well, intercepting a pass after a quarterback has thrown it. Some defensive positions include the linebacker, the cornerback and defensive end.

Special teams

When it comes to ST, it’s about strategy and tactics. Used primarily for punts or punt returns, these are the guys that bring the unexpected element to the game of football, such that it’s quite common to see the opponent bringing their own ST onto the field in response to their introduction. Some of the popular special teams positions include Punters, Holders, Gunners and Blockers.

What about team substitutions?

The game of football allows for an unlimited number of substitutions. What that means is that teams can change all 11 players on the field when the ball is not in play if they choose. Of course, they can also change an individual player if they see fit. This is not limited to the offense, defense or special teams, which is to say that any member of the team’s active roster can be substituted at any time.