The New England Patriots are officially done with the meaningful parts of the preseason. By and large, the positional battles are in the books and the team can start preparing for their Week One matchup with the Pittsburgh Steelers. With that in mind, let’s take a look another stab at the Patriots roster projection for the regular season.
New England Patriots 53-Man Roster Projection 4.0
In: Tom Brady, Jarrett Stidham
Out: Brian Hoyer
The Patriots could easily carry three quarterbacks if they don’t feel Jarrett Stidham is ready for the backup job. However, the rookie looked good in the third preseason game and should be equipped to handle backup duties. New England can save $3 million in cap space by trading Brian Hoyer, and plenty of teams should be interested in sending over a late-round pick for one of the better backups in the league.
Running Back (5)
In: Sony Michel, James White, Damien Harris, Brandon Bolden, James Develin
Out: Rex Burkhead, Nick Brosette, Jakob Johnson
This projection assumes that Damien Harris will be fine for the start of the season. If he’s healthy for Week One, he should be able to take the backup role behind Sony Michel. James White can handle the passing downs while James Develin opens holes in the run game. Brandon Bolden is a special teams ace and an underrated emergency runner. Cutting Rex Burkhead only frees up $1 million in cap space, but New England has to make cuts somewhere. Quite simply, there’s too much talent on this roster to carry six running backs.
Wide Receiver (7)
In: Julian Edelman, N’Keal Harry, Josh Gordon, Demaryius Thomas, Phillip Dorsett, Jakobi Meyers, Matthew Slater
Out: Ryan Davis, Braxton Berrios, Maurice Harris, Damoun Patterson, Gunner Olszewski
PUP: Cameron Meredith
This unit has one of the highest floors and lowest ceilings in the entire league. Julian Edelman, Demaryius Thomas, and N’Keal Harry are all coming off injury, while Josh Gordon is still on the NFI. Jakobi Meyers is still battling his rookie ups-and-downs, so Phillip Dorsett makes the cut for his reliability and knowledge of the offense. Don’t be surprised if Maurice Harris “makes” the opening roster only to be put on the short-term injured reserve. The only other player with a chance here is Gunner Olszewski, who made a few nice plays as New England’s primary punt returner.
Tight End (2)
In: Matt LaCosse, Ryan Izzo
Out: Andrew Beck, Stephen Anderson, Lance Kendricks
Matt LaCosse should be back sooner or later, but Ryan Izzo has made the most of his extended absence. The former seventh-round pick has impressed as a blocker and made a great catch on a beautiful pass from Tom Brady. Tight end remains the weakest position on the roster, but the Patriots can easily make do with what they’ve got.
Offensive Line (8)
In: Isaiah Wynn, Joe Thuney, David Andrews, Shaq Mason, Marcus Cannon, Hjalte Froholdt, Ted Karras, Dan Skipper
Out: Cole Croston, James Ferentz, Tyler Gauthier, Martez Ivey, Cedrick Lang, Tyree St. Louis
NFI: Yodny Cajuste
The starting five of Isaiah Wynn, Joe Thuney, David Andrews, Shaq Mason, and Marcus Cannon are locked and loaded. Ted Karras is still the first guard off the bench, as Hjalte Froholdt hasn’t looked great during his time on the field. Dan Skipper isn’t a great third tackle, but there simply aren’t enough starting-caliber tackles to go around. If injury strikes, the Patriots could throw Thuney at left tackle and insert Ted Karras as the starting guard.
Defensive Line (9)
In: Michael Bennett, Adam Butler, Lawrence Guy, Danny Shelton, Chase Winovich, John Simon, Shilique Calhoun, Byron Cowart, Deatrich Wise
Out: Mike Pennel, Ufomba Kamalu, Nick Thurman, David Parry, Keionta Davis, Trent Harris, Derek Rivers
Most of these spots are obvious, but there are a few notable changes here. Byron Cowart looks like a fifth-round steal and has easily played his way onto the roster. Similarly, Shilique Calhoun has gone from an interesting camp story to true defensive line contributor. On the other side of the coin, Mike Pennel just doesn’t look like a fit in New England. The free agent signee played late in both of New England’s most recent preseason games, which doesn’t bode well for his roster status. Derek Rivers was one of the last cuts, but New England can hopefully push him through to the practice squad.
In: Dont’a Hightower, Kyle Van Noy, Jamie Collins, Ja’Whaun Bentley, Elandon Roberts, Calvin Munson
Out: Christian Sam, Terez Hall
IR (probably): Brandon King
As of this posting, the Patriots haven’t officially announced Brandon King’s injury status. However, the core special teamer had to be carted off the field, so it’s safe to assume he won’t be back in 2019. His absence opens up a spot for Calvin Munson, who has reportedly impressed throughout camp. If you’re looking for a surprise cut, the Patriots could clear $2 million in cap space by moving on from Elandon Roberts.
In: Stephon Gilmore, J.C. Jackson, Jason McCourty, Jonathan Jones, Keion Crossen, Joejuan Williams
Out: Duke Dawson, Ken Webster
You never want to cut a second-round pick before seeing him on the NFL stage, but the Patriots really don’t have another choice with Duke Dawson. New England has an incredibly talented and deep roster, and they can’t afford to waste spots on players who can’t contribute when asked. Dawson has looked bad in both the preseason and training camp and doesn’t justify a roster spot. Hopefully, New England can get him through to the practice squad.
In: Devin McCourty, Patrick Chung, Duron Harmon, Terrence Brooks, Nate Ebner
Out: Obi Melifonwu, Malik Gant, A.J. Howard
Patrick Chung is obviously in some legal trouble following his recent indictment, but the NFL reportedly won’t intervene until the legal process is concluded. Chung’s trial is set for the spring, so presumably, he won’t face any potential suspension until 2020. This is the NFL, after all, so who really knows what they’re going to do. Nate Ebner was on the roster bubble, but he’s a lock following the Brandon King injury. Bill Belichick loves his special teams’ players, and there aren’t many better than Ebner.
In: Stephen Gostkowski, Jake Bailey, Joe Cardona
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