Patriots Depth Chart Reset: New England’s Inaction Fine At Trade Deadline


November 3, 2015

The NFL trade deadline came and went without a peep, and roughly 939 New England Patriots fans are disappointed.

Here’s the deal, though: The Patriots didn’t need to make a trade. Acquiring extra depth at key positions would have been helpful, but the Patriots are 7-0, have an incredibly deep roster and already have made seven trades, dating back to training camp. They also need to free up three spots if they hope to add linebacker Dane Fletcher and defensive tackle Chris Jones, both of whom are on PUP, and center Bryan Stork, who is eligible to come off short-term injured reserve this week, to their 53-man roster.

Let’s take a look at the Patriots’ updated depth chart after choosing inaction at the trade deadline:

Tom Brady, Jimmy Garoppolo
The Patriots could add a practice squad quarterback later in the season, but otherwise they have the best starting quarterback in the NFL and a promising backup.

Dion Lewis, LeGarrette Blount, James White, Brandon Bolden, FB Joey Iosefa (practice squad)
The Patriots could choose to eventually promote Iosefa from the practice squad if they feel they need a fullback, but guards Shaq Mason and Ryan Wendell have been handling those duties so far.

Julian Edelman, Brandon LaFell, Danny Amendola, Keshawn Martin, Aaron Dobson, Matthew Slater, Chris Harper (practice squad), Austin Hill (practice squad)
Martin, who was acquired in a trade with the Houston Texans, is injured right now, but expect him to reclaim the fourth wide receiver spot when healthy.

Rob Gronkowski, Michael Williams, Scott Chandler, Asante Cleveland (practice squad)
Williams has surprisingly played more offensive snaps this season than Chandler. Williams is a better blocker as a former offensive tackle, while Chandler is used more in the passing game. Williams, who was acquired in a trade before the season, still could be used as an emergency tackle.

Sebastian Vollmer, Marcus Cannon (injured), Cameron Fleming, TE Michael Williams, Blaine Clausell (practice squad)
The Patriots could have added depth at the trade deadline here, since Vollmer, Fleming and Williams are the only healthy options on the 53-man roster. Perhaps the Patriots didn’t add depth because they know Cannon will be back relatively soon from his toe injury.

Josh Kline, Shaq Mason, Tre’ Jackson (injured), Ryan Wendell, Chris Barker (practice squad)
Mason practiced Tuesday despite his injured knee, while Jackson wasn’t spotted at the session with his own knee issue. If neither can play, Wendell likely would start opposite Kline on Sunday against the Redskins.

David Andrews, Bryan Stork (short-term injured reserve)
Stork is eligible to return from injured reserve this week. It will be interesting to see if the Patriots stick with Andrews as the starting center despite Stork’s return.

Chandler Jones, Rob Ninkovich, Jabaal Sheard (injured), Geneo Grissom, Trey Flowers, Eric Martin (practice squad)
Sheard remained out of practice Tuesday with an ankle injury, leaving rookies Grissom and Flowers as the Patriots’ top pass-rushing backups. Defensive tackle Dominique Easley and linebackers Dont’a Hightower, Jamie Collins and Jonathan Freeny also could be used as edge rushers in a pinch.

Alan Branch, Malcom Brown, Dominique Easley, Sealver Siliga, Akiem Hicks, Chris Jones (PUP)
It’s unclear how the Patriots will make room for Jones when he returns off PUP. He practiced Tuesday, starting his 21-day window to be activated off PUP. Branch is a starter, the Patriots have invested first-round picks in Brown and Easley, Siliga was a starter on the Patriots’ Super Bowl XLIX-champion squad, and Hicks recently was acquired in a trade with the Saints. It would be surprising to see the Patriots carry six defensive tackles on their 53-man roster, so they’ll have a difficult decision to make in the next 21 days.

Jamie Collins, Dont’a Hightower, Jonathan Freeny, Jerod Mayo, Jon Bostic, Brandon King, Dane Fletcher (PUP)
The same issue applies at linebacker, where the Patriots will have too much depth once Fletcher comes off PUP. It would be very surprising if the Patriots chose to release Mayo, but he’s clearly behind Collins, Hightower and Freeny on the depth chart, and Bostic recently was acquired in a trade. King has been extremely impressive on special teams.

Needless to say, the Patriots didn’t need to make moves to acquire a defensive tackle or linebacker at the trade deadline.

Malcolm Butler, Logan Ryan, Justin Coleman, Rashaan Melvin
This is the position currently with the least depth on the Patriots’ roster. Coleman is an undrafted free agent and Melvin was claimed off waivers from the Baltimore Ravens’ shaky secondary. The Patriots, at the very least, should look to acquire a cornerback for their practice squad. Safety Devin McCourty is a former cornerback, however, and perhaps would move back outside if the Patriots suffered any injuries.

Ryan has been the most consistent Patriots cornerback, while Butler and Coleman have shown plenty of upside. The Patriots also used safety Patrick Chung in the slot against Indianapolis Colts receiver T.Y. Hilton.

Devin McCourty, Patrick Chung, Duron Harmon, Jordan Richards, Nate Ebner, Tavon Wilson, Dewey McDonald, Floyd Raven, Ross Ventrone
The Patriots have a comical amount of depth at safety, especially with special teams contributors. McCourty and Harmon both play reps at free safety, and McCourty, Chung and Richards all play near the line of scrimmage at strong safety. If McCourty was forced to move back to cornerback, Harmon would likely take over free safety duties full time.

K Stephen Gostkowski, P Ryan Allen, LS Joe Cardona
The Patriots recently worked out a slew of specialists, but don’t expect to see any moves made at kicker, punter or long snapper, where they’re set for years to come.

Thumbnail photo via Mark L. Baer/USA TODAY Sports Images

Thumbnail photo via Oct 25, 2015; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots cornerback Malcolm Butler (21) and cornerback Justin Coleman (22) celebrate against the New York Jets during the second half at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports
New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady
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