Is the current roster and it's rules good for the game? There are lots of factors that go into it. The team size is one. Every player added to the roster has to get paid, which makes everybody's slice of the pie smaller. We've gone from the days where players played both sides of the ball to specialized positions that only see a handful of plays per game. Is it worth it to carry these specialists, or do we want to see a move backwards, to more generalists? Increasing the roster size means that you have more injury flexibility, and more development.
I wouldn't mind seeing a move backwards to a 38-man roster on gameday. Keep the 46-man roster, to allow for an 8-man reserve and development at each of the positions.
What are other people's thoughts? How many people think the benefits of specialization outweigh the costs?
The other factor is the ratio. If you move down to a smaller roster, you reduce the number of Non-Imports on each team. Because the pool of Non-Imports doesn't change, it would mean that the talent level, overall, should increase. As the league looks forward to expansion, it needs to consider the level of talent available in the current Non-Import pool. As it's been increasing the roster size over the years, the demand is higher, and supply is not really changing to accomedate. Do we need to look at reducing the roster size to make expansion viable?
Will a smaller roster actually reduce costs? Or will the development of players into these new roles require squads of the same size that they are now?
The talent pool for import players is so deep as to be almost limitless. You won't see a material change in quality by reducing the number of players. The 50th-best import player in the league is about the same as the 100th-best, and there are probably hundreds more that are about the same as that not playing anywhere.
There is a much thinner pool of Canadian players - you see that any time a team gets into injury trouble - and all of a sudden Michael Palmer is your starting slotback.
But I don't see that warranting a reduction in roster sizes. There was not much room for error with a 38 man roster. Take away 3 qbs and a kicker, and you've really got 34 men to play 23 starting positions. That leaves 11 backups, which is not many, especially in a long 18 game season. You've got way more starters playing on teams, playing nicked, playing out of position. I remember a number of games as a kid where an o-lineman played d-line, or vice versa, rbs became slotbacks, wr's became dbs....etc. And there was the odd time when if a team only dressed 2 qbs that you ran out of those.
No, the more I think of it, the smaller roster made for a lower quality of football, not higher, because guys had to play hurt, tired, out of position.
My contention, is that rosters can include positions like #3 QB, 2 kickers, long snapper, return specialist, fullback.
These positions don't see much action. They're specialists, play maybe 6 plays / game. A smaller roster would see the return specialist coming from a WR, RB, or DB position. Forcing the #3 QB into kicking duties, or the kicker/ WR into emergency QB duties. Forcing teams to use one guy at center, rather than two guys for the two different snaps. Teams would have to alternate their FB / RB, without having spares. It reduces the flexibility a little. 11 backups still leaves you 3 or 4 guys in the secondary, 3 or 4 linemen, and 3 or 4 on offence. Does it really differ from the 15 backups we have now?
I never suggested reducing the team size. If you kept the 46-man roster, but were forced into 8 game-time cuts, it would leave you with a development squad of 8 players, in addition to your 11 backups.
The biggest problem I see with the roster is the lack of places to develop players. I don't think the 4-man reserve ( difference between the 46-man and 42-man rosters ) is enough to properly develop players. If you have a high level of talent on your team, and try to develop players using your practice roster, you run the risk of losing those players to other teams at any time. The two solutions to that are to increase the 46-man to 48 or 50, and reduce the practice roster by the same number, or to decrease the size of the 42-man roster. Of the two options, I'd rather see the gameday roster reduced. The other option is to be able to designate players on the practice roster as developmental players, providing a full salary instead of a practice roster salary, and protecting them from being claimed by other teams.
I don't think we will see any changes to the current set up in the imediate future. The four man reserve was suppose to allow teams to sit a player out who is slightly injured for a game and not have to put him on the injured reserve. However some teams (Montreal comes to mind) seem to have a dozen players on a one game injured list just to hide them. So I don't know about that idea for having the 4 man reserve. Teams will also find ways to hide players.
One idea I have wondered if it might work, is to allow one of the 4 man reserve players to replace a player from the starting 42 at half time in case of an injury. Visiting teams would have to take all 46 players on road games though for this to happen. Would cost all the teams more money though for travel costs.
The teams have plenty enough players on the roster now and more than enough imports. Add too many imports and the Canadian game will turn more defensive, as teams can stack 11 imports on defence and still have enough imports left over run the offence. Imports are being used as situational players, backups and also designated imports.
So ... after the Harrell mess, does anybody else think that we should move from a 46-man roster to a 48-man roster, and reduce the Practice Roster to 5 and increase the Reserve list by 2? Maybe go to a 50-man, making a development squad of 8 and a PR of 3?
My vote is still for a game-day of 38 -- a development squad of 8, and a practice roster of 7.
I like the idea of a buffer time for new aquisitions. If new signings got put on a seperate "development" list ( of about a maximum of 4 players ) at a league-set payscale ( of approx 2.5x the practice roster pay ), outside the SMS, for a maximum of 4 games before teams had to make roster shuffles to accomodate them. It would allow players time to learn the new system before they needed to be evaluated at the pro level.
The list could also be used to develop draft picks. Each team's picks from the last two drafts would be exempt from the player limit, so teams would have the chance to keep and develop their own NI talent rather than risking losing them off the practice roster.