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Building A 2020 NFL Expansion Team, Part II: The Expansion Draft

Following Part I of our 2020 NFL Expansion series, it’s time for the expansion draft. The last NFL expansion draft happened back in 2002 when the Houston Texans became a franchise, so many of you may be unfamiliar with the process—it’s much more complicated than a fantasy football draft or the normal NFL draft each year. Let’s start with the rules before making the selections to start the Toronto Wolves led by head coach Chip Kelly, offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur, and defensive coordinator Wade Phillips.




We are using the same rules used back in the 2002 expansion draft. Each NFL team must list five players from their current roster that can be selected among the player pool. However, they cannot be a kicker/punter, cannot be entering free agency after the season, and cannot be coming off injured reserve from the previous year. Also, only one player with more than ten years of NFL experience can be on each team’s list.


Once a player is selected from an existing team, one player may be removed from the list. And if two players from one team are selected, all remaining players may be pulled.


As the Toronto Wolves, we must either select a) at least 30 players, or b) any number of players that have a combined contract value of at least $71.5 million for the 2020 season.


Available Players


This is obviously a guessing game as to which players NFL franchises might make available, but I tried to keep this as realistic as possible. Players that were released in real life and players with massive contracts teams would like to get out of headline the player pool.


Arizona Cardinals

LB Haason Reddick

TE Dan Arnold

DL Miles Brown

LB Keishawn Bierria

CB Chris Jones


Atlanta Falcons

CB Desmond Trufant

RB Devonta Freeman

OL Lukayus McNeil

OL Ty Sambrailo

TE Luke Stocker


Baltimore Ravens

QB Robert Griffin III

S Tony Jefferson

OL James Hurst

DL Chris Wormley

LS Morgan Cox


Buffalo Bills

RB T.J. Yeldon

LB Corey Thompson

DL Darryl Johnson

DL Vincent Taylor

LS Reid Ferguson


Carolina Panthers

S Eric Reid

S Colin Jones

RB Mike Davis

S T.J. Green

OL Chris Reed


Chicago Bears

CB Prince Amukamara

WR Taylor Gabriel

TE J.P. Holtz

TE Eric Saubert

RB Ryan Hall


Cincinnati Bengals

OL Cordy Glenn

OL John Miller

CB B.W. Webb

WR Trenton Irwin

TE Jordan Franks


Cleveland Browns

CB T.J. Carrie

TE Demetrius Harris

OL Eric Kush

OL Darius Taylor

OL Kendall Lamm


Dallas Cowboys

CB Donovan Olumba

WR Ventell Bryant

OL Mitch Hyatt

OL Wyatt Miller

CB Deante Burton


Denver Broncos

LS West Farnsworth

DL Jonathan Harris

CB Shakial Taylor

CB Elijah Holder

DL Deyon Sizer


Detroit Lions

OT Rick Wagner

QB Kyle Sloter

LB Devon Kennard

DL Frank Herron

WR Chris Lacy


Green Bay Packers

TE Jimmy Graham

OL John Leglue

OL Alex Light

LS Hunter Bradley

CB Ka’dar Hollman


Houston Texans

CB Vernon Heargreaves III

RB Buddy Howell

CB Cornell Armstrong

WR Keke Coutee

OL Greg Mancz


Indianapolis Colts

DL Margus Hunt

OL Jake Eldrenkamp

WR Ashton Dulin

WR Chad Williams

LB Skai Moore


Jacksonville Jaguars

WR C.J. Board

RB Jeremy McNichols

TE Charles Jones

LB Joe Giles-Harris

CB Brandon Watson


Kansas City Chiefs

OL Ryan Hunter

OL Jackson Barton

LB Demone Harris

LS James Winchester

S Armani Watts


Las Vegas Raiders

LB Tahir Whitehead

TE Derek Carrier

LB Ukeme Eligwe

WR Rico Gafford

WR Marcell Ateman


Los Angeles Rams

LB Clay Matthews III

LB Tanzel Smart

S Jake Gervase

RB John Kelly

OL Jamil Demby


Los Angeles Chargers

LB Thomas Davis Sr.

DL Brandon Mebane

LS Cole Mazza

WR Jaylen Guyton

WR Andre Patton


Miami Dolphins

OL Evan Brown

CB Linden Stephens

DL Jamal Davis

DL Avery Moss

WR Mack Hollins


Minnesota Vikings

CB Xavier Rhodes

DL Linval Joseph

OL Aviante Collins

LS Austin Cutting

LB Hercules Mata’afa


New England Patriots

OT Korey Cunningham

TE Ryan Izzo

TE Matt Lacosse

S D’Angelo Ross

LS Joe Cardona


New York Giants

OL Nate Solder

QB Alex Tanney

LB Josiah Tauaefa

LB Devante Downs

WR Da’Mari Scott


New York Jets

CB Trumaine Johnson

CB Blake Countess

CB Darryl Roberts

RB Kenneth Dixon

TE Ross Travis


Philadelphia Eagles

LB Nigel Bradham

DE Bruce Hector

WR Robert Davis

WR Deontay Burnett

RB Elijah Holyfield


Pittsburgh Steelers

LB Mark Barron

LB Anthony Chickillo

WR Johnny Holton

LB Robert Spillane

QB Paxton Lynch


San Francisco 49ers

OL Mike Person

TE Daniel Helm

DL Kevin Givens

LS Kyle Nelson

QB C.J. Beathard


Seattle Seahawks

OL Kyle Fuller

WR John Ursua

OL Chad Wheeler

FB Nick Bellore

LS Tyler Ott


Tampa Bay Buccaneers

WR Spencer Schnell

CB Mazzi Wilkins

WR Cyril Grayson

LB Noah Dawkins

OL Aaron Stinnie


Tennessee Titans

WR Rashard Davis

RB Khari Blasingame

DL Joey Ivie

WR Kalif Raymond

WR Cody Hollister


Washington Redskins

RB Josh Ferguson

WR Jester Weah

WR Darvin Kidsy Jr.

CB Maurice Smith

TE Hale Hentges


The Selections


Pick 1: LB Haason Reddick ($4,288,444)

The Cardinals were limited in the options they could make available in the expansion draft, and their final spot came down to Haason Reddick or David Johnson. With DJ used in the DeAndre Hopkins trade, it was hard to say they would put him up as one of their five players instead. The Wolves will gladly take Reddick, who has the potential to be a foundational piece on defense as a versatile linebacker.


Pick 2: CB Xavier Rhodes ($14,000,000)

Xavier Rhodes’ play has taken a step back over the past couple of years, but he’ll turn just 30 years old this summer and was just an All-Pro cornerback in 2017. Rhodes seemingly lost confidence, which is tough to overcome for a corner, but he showed the upside is still there after his performance against Saints receiver Michael Thomas last postseason. Even at a $14 million salary, we’ll take a chance on Rhodes regaining his elite form.


Pick 3: DL Linval Joseph ($8,500,000)

Wade Phillips’ 3-4 defense could use a big nose tackle to clog the interior, and Linval Joseph has been a very productive player for the Vikings and Giants throughout his career. Joseph will help ensure that the Wolves don’t get bullied up front by opposing rushing attacks.


Pick 4: LB Clay Matthews III ($5,750,000)

Longtime Packer Clay Matthews had eight sacks in his lone season with the Rams last year, and he has 91.5 sacks in his 11-year career. While Matthews is probably past his prime, we cannot pass on a highly productive player with the versatility to play inside or outside linebacker on defense. Matthews will rejoin his defensive coordinator with LA last season.


Pick 5: LB Mark Barron ($8,125,000)

We’ll also reunite linebacker Mark Barron with his former defensive coordinator Wade Phillips, who knows how to use the former Alabama standout safety as an undersized inside linebacker in a 3-4 defense. In real life, the Steelers almost certainly would have kept Barron if not for his salary, but we can afford him as an expansion team with clean books.


Pick 6: TE Jimmy Graham ($11,600,000)

Most would agree that nearly $12 million is too much for Jimmy Graham at this point in his career, but he would be worth a selection with just one year left on his contract signed with the Packers last offseason. With a shallow group of receivers available, Graham can still be a big weapon in the passing game, and he’ll be a top target in the red zone.


Pick 7: LB Devon Kennard ($6,250,000)

The Lions wanted to go in another direction on defense, but Devon Kennard has recorded seven sacks in each of the two seasons, so he’d be an excellent starter for an expansion squad. With Reddick and Barron on the inside and Matthews and Kennard coming off the edge, the Wolves have a versatile and potent second level on defense.


Pick 8: CB Prince Amukamara ($9,000,000)

Again, this selection isn’t cheap with a $9 million salary, but Prince Amukamara has been a starter for one of the NFL’s best defenses in Chicago. With Rhodes and Amukamara at the boundary corner positions, we should have solid, reliable play in 2020.


Pick 9: DL Margus Hunt ($4,000,000)

Margus Hunt can be a very good two-gap defensive end in our 3-4 defense, with the ability to get after the passer in third-down situations. Eight of the first nine selection for the Wolves have come on defense.


Pick 10: OL Cordy Glenn ($9,500,000)

The Wolves want to play stout defense, but we want to be tough up front offensively to complement it. Cordy Glenn has dealt with injuries throughout his career, but he has valuable experience as a starting left tackle (and the ability to move inside as a big guard).


Pick 11: OL John Miller ($2,610,000)

It might not seem like a great idea to go with a couple of offensive linemen from the NFL’s worst team in 2019, but John Miller is a starting guard that’s still just 26 years old.


Pick 12: WR Keke Coutee ($1,102,258)

Keke Coutee appeared to fall out of favor in Houston, but he showed upside as a volume receiver as a rookie in 2018. He’d have upside in the slot in Chip Kelly’s offense.


Pick 13: QB Robert Griffin III ($2,500,000)

Free agency and the draft have a number of intriguing quarterback options, but veteran Robert Griffin III would be a great mentor and/or backup at the very least for the Wolves.


Pick 14: WR Marcell Ateman ($750,000)

We’re going for more size with Marcell Ateman, who has been unable to get consistent playing time for the Raiders but has big-play ability in a six-foot-four frame.


Pick 15: LB Thomas Davis Sr. ($5,250,000)

The Wolves are in good shape at linebacker, but Thomas Davis Sr. can be the type of locker-room presence that helps establish a positive culture for a team being built from the ground up. Davis can rotate into the lineup with the versatile Matthews and Barron.


Pick 16: S Armani Watts ($917,558)

I like Armani Watts coming out of Texas A&M in 2018, and we have the opportunity to get him here in the expansion draft. Watts can make a considerable impact as a starting safety.


Pick 17: OL James Hurst ($2,500,000)

We’re starting an offensive line run here, and it begins with former Raven James Hurst, who can slide in at the right tackle spot for now.


Pick 18: OL Mike Person ($2,500,000)

Mike Person has the versatility to play guard or center, and we’ll likely use the veteran as our starting center as things stand ahead of free agency and the NFL draft.


Pick 19: OL Eric Kush ($1,875,000)

Eric Kush can play either guard spot, and we’ll slot him in between Glenn and Person to complete the early start on the left side of the offensive line.


Pick 20: OL Aaron Stinnie ($750,000)

Aaron Stinnie is another offensive lineman with starting experience, and he’ll likely be a primary backup providing plus depth up front.


Pick 21: TE Demetrius Harris ($2,750,000)

Ideally, Chip Kelly’s offense will be able to spread people out, but Kelly has shown that he’ll adapt to his personnel, using multiple-tight-end sets at UCLA. Demetrius Harris gives us two six-foot-seven targets in scoring territory.


Pick 22: OL Alex Light ($750,000)

Alex Light can compete for a starting tackle spot, but he’ll likely be a swing tackle for the Wolves.


Pick 23: LS Joe Cardona ($1,080,000)

The two tight ends New England made available were in consideration, but we’ll go with long snapper Joe Cardona after the Patriots were forced to make the special-teams player available.


Pick 24: TE Ross Travis ($825,000)

The Wolves add another tall tight end to the mix in Ross Travis, who has the ability to move out into the slot as an athletic target.


Pick 25: WR Deontay Burnett ($675,000)

Deontay Burnett was a reliable weapon for Sam Darnold at USC, and he has the potential to be a No. 2 or No. 3 receiver in the Wolves offense.


Pick 26: DB Blake Countess ($875,000)

The safety selection is thin, but Blake Countess can play at either safety or nickel at a cost under $1 million as free agency approaches.


Pick 27: DL Jonathan Harris ($675,000)

The Broncos claimed Jonathan Harris off waivers last season, but we scoop him up in the expansion draft as likely depth on the defensive line.


Pick 28: OL Evan Brown ($615,000)

Evan Brown can compete with Mike Person for the starting center spot, but he’ll be a movable backup if not.


Pick 29: RB Elijah Holyfield ($610,000)

With an eye toward free agency and the NFL draft, we haven’t selected a running back yet. But Elijah Holyfield is a no-nonsense runner that could do damage in our offense.


Pick 30: WR Mack Hollins ($825,000)

We’ll add a fourth receiver for our final selection in the expansion draft, but Mack Hollins’ main contributions for the Wolves will likely come on special teams.


Current Roster


With a focus on the defense and offensive line, the Toronto Wolves have a foundation set with an inside-out approach to constructing the team.


Salary cap: $198,200,000

Total payroll: $111,448,260

Cap space: $86,751,740


QB: Robert Griffin III

RB: Elijah Holyfield

WR: Marcell Ateman // Mack Hollins

WR: Keke Coutee

WR: Deontay Burnett

TE: Jimmy Graham // Ross Travis // Demetrius Harris

OT: Cordy Glenn // Alex Light

OG: Eric Kush

C: Mike Person // Evan Brown

OG: John Miller // Aaron Stinnie

OT: James Hurst


DE: Margus Hunt

NT: Linval Joseph

DE: Jonathan Harris

OLB: Clay Matthews III

ILB: Haason Reddick // Thomas Davis Sr.

ILB: Mark Barron

OLB: Devon Kennard

CB: Prince Amukamara

S: Armani Watts

S: Blake Countess

CB: Xavier Rhodes





LS: Jake Cardona


    • davidchappine

      Yup you are right, he easily could have been. I didn’t go with him just because in real life the Rams waited and tried to trade him before releasing him, so I had that play out as the scenario here, too. Thanks for reading!

  • Ryan

    Love this series but I’m confused. If i understand the rules then Kush, harris and Lamm from cleve or Reddick of AZ, Ateman of LV Or RG3 do not fit contract requirements.
    Jefferson of balti finished on IR And Person retired.

    • davidchappine

      Thank you! And thanks for reading! I worded the rules slightly wrong for most of those guys you mentioned. I should have said they cannot have been free agents for 2020. Based on the 2002 expansion draft rules, players with one year remaining on their contract (i.e. they will become free agents in the 2021 offseason) were able to be in the pool. Yes, Jefferson was a total miss on our part, sorry about that; went too quick with him and stuck him on the list because Baltimore cut him (the Ravens didn’t have a bunch of options under the criteria) and simply forgot about his injury. Person retired after this was published! Thanks again for reading!

      • Ryan

        Thank you very much for your reply. I have been a huge fan of this series of yours and look forward to each year as I have been doing the same thing for a long time and was under the belief that the player had to have two years remaining on his contract until reading your response and going back and checking. Really changes things up.
        Thanks again..

          • Ryan

            Hello David.
            Hoping you could help me further. Yes. I AM a super geek with this stuff. You’ve shed a light on a few thing prior and I was curious if I was figuring correctly as I’m finding different salary numbers for the players. For instance, I’m finding a cap # of 12.88 for Linval Joseph But he’s listed here as a 8.5. Does the expansion team assume the entirety of the contract or does only certain aspects of the contract count towards the “cap number”..
            Thank you again.

          • davidchappine

            Hi, Ryan. You’re welcome! Thanks for checking in again. Great to hear you are really into this.

            Both the Rhodes and Joseph contracts were complex. They added up to around $18 million in cap savings for the Vikings in real life, but the cap hits for the expansion team would be different. The expansion team does assume the entirety of the contract, with the cap hit for the year of the existing contract. I simply used past contract data, which is where I got the $8.5 million which was supposed to be his cap number if he remained in Minnesota, according to various sources (cap sites and also Twitter). It’s interesting, as if you look into it you can find different numbers from different reporters; it’s easier when the player has not been released and his cap number is clear on his current contract.

  • Ryan

    off the wall question for you.. Considering the Jags exhausted their attempts at trading Fournette with no offer at all according to Coach Marone, would it have made sence that had it been an expansion year this year, Fournette would have been available so they wouldn’t be crushed by a dead cap hit if he were selected??

    Thank you,
    Sorry, in a quandry and I respect your decision..

    • davidchappine

      Hi, Ryan. Good question! Back then, despite the rumors, it sounded like the Jaguars were just going to keep Fournette and see what happens in the final year of his deal (looking back, they were obviously just doing that in an attempt to get another team to bite on a trade). With hindsight no doubt it would have made sense for him to be put up by Jacksonville, and as you said it would eliminate his cap number for them. You are totally right. If doing this series again, we would certainly put him up as one of the Jags’ five. Thanks for the question!

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