A few weeks after the playoff loss to San Diego, I started thinking about a plan for the offseason. It was pretty obvious at that point that this team would not be very active in free agency given how few obvious weaknesses they had for 2014 (I'll ignore the debate if Andy Dalton can be "the man" or other eye-of-the-beholder/who-would-really-be-available-who's-any-better-anyway discussions).
As stands now, I see 44 roster locks already. Here's what that looks like by position as well as last year's roster breakdown after final cuts:
QB : 3 (Dalton, Campbell, McCarron)
RB : 2 (Bernard, Hill)
WR : 4 (Green, Jones, Sanu, Sanzenbacher)
TE : 2 (Gresham, Eifert)
OL : 8 (Whitworth, Smith, Zeitler, Pollak, Boling, Hawkinson, Bodine, Newhouse)
DE : 4 (Dunlap, Gilberry, Hunt, Clarke)
DT : 4 (Atkins, Peko, Still, Thompson)
LB : 5 (Burfict, Maualuga, Rey, Lamur, DiManche)
CB : 5 (Hall, Newman, Jones, Kirkpatrick, Dennard)
S : 4 (Nelson, Iloka, Manning, Williams)
ST : 3 (Nugent, Huber, Harris)
That leaves 9 more spots that need to be settled during training camp. Some of these will unfortunately be resolved due to injuries. Carrying a 3rd QB will force the team to make a hard choice elsewhere.
On the offensive side of the ball, the battle for RB will likely come down to Burkhead and Peerman as the ST/3rd down guy and Hewitt/Whitlock for the FB spot. Tate likely makes the team again unless someone emerges as a kick returner during camp.
Hamilton keeps getting mentioned a lot during OTAs so he has a strong shot to make the team as the 6th WR. I can see Charles moving back to TE or at least some kind of HB/ST guy - he's too athletic not to carve out a spot. For the OL it's possible that only Robinson gets added to the list.
For the defense, it looks to be pretty set numbers-wise but I suspect that Mays earns a roster spot. To fill out the last two spots I'll put in two more LBs: Porter and Flowers. These guys provide depth and power/speed on ST which is always key.
Some recognizable names won't make the team this year. In my projection Geathers, BJGE, and possible Peerman get cut (providing $5.8M in cap savings I might add). Everyone else is a 5th year player or lower.