How does the NFL Expansion Draft work?

Thread title says it all. My wife asked me earlier today what they do when a brand new teams comes up and I do not know the answer. Another related question, does the expansion draft exclude the new team from the normal draft? Thanks.


It varies, but usually teams rosters are frozen at some point and each team designates which players are available in the expansion draft. A set number of players can be protected, so you’re usually drafting from the backup players.

Sometimes if you pick from one team, it can then remove another player from the eligible list. Usually, the expansion team doesn’t get first pick in the college draft, either.

Well, the short answer is that all the existing NFL teams are allowed to protect a certain number of players on their existing rosters. Which players they choose to protect is a pretty complicated thing and each team has it’s own priorities.

Once those teams do that, it leaves a list of available unprotected players from which the Texans are allowed to select players from. There are limits to how many players can be taken from any one team and as the draft progresses the original teams are allow to withdraw players from the unprotected pool.

There’s a tons of very strange rules about how many players the team must take, how much of it’s cap the team must use up and how player contracts are transferred.

Additionally after the draft the expansion team has free access to the free agent pool just like any other team.

It’s pretty complex, but this is the jist of it.

Actually, the expansion team does get the first pick in the expansion draft. See: Carr, David and Couch, Tim.

Also, it’s not true that you’re usually picking from backup players. Often, and typically these days, you’re selecting from overpaid veterans and/or starters who cost too much or aren;t performing up to their contract. Teams tend to love seeing these guys taken off their rosters by the expansion teams since it basically allows that team to dump a high priced player without taking a salary cap hit.

Gah, that should say "the expansion team does get the first pick in the college draft.