Patriots 53-Man Roster Projection: Will New England Keep Three QBs?

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Good news: Meaningful football is fast approaching. The New England Patriots must trim their roster to 53 players in just 11 days, and their season opener takes place against the Kansas City Chiefs at Gillette Stadium in just over two weeks.

There is no 75-man cut-down, so the Patriots will need to whittle their roster down from 90 to 53 players on Saturday, Sept. 2. There could, however, be movement before that date. If the Patriots plan to cut any veteran players, they could choose to do so before their fourth preseason game on Aug. 31. The Patriots also could acquire players via trade this week, with their biggest need being defensive end.

Based on their current 90-man roster, here’s how we see the regular season roster shaking out.

QUARTERBACKS (3)
Tom Brady
Jacoby Brissett
Jimmy Garoppolo

It will be very interesting to see what the Patriots do at quarterback. The ideal situation would have Brissett remaining on the team but not sticking on the 53-man roster. That would mean either placing him on injured reserve or waiving him in hopes of getting him on the practice squad. With so many QB-needy teams out there, it seems unlikely he would go unclaimed through waivers. The Patriots probably wouldn’t mind if Brissett suffered an extremely minor injury at the end of the fourth preseason game, allowing them to place him on injured reserve.

RUNNING BACKS (5)
Brandon Bolden
Rex Burkhead
Mike Gillislee
Dion Lewis
James White

The extra roster spot opened by defensive end Derek Rivers’ reported season-ending injury made it easier to keep Bolden around. Bolden is a valuable special-teamer and a good emergency option at running back if injuries ravage the position. The Patriots learned the hard way in 2015 you can never have enough running backs.

WIDE RECEIVERS (6)
Danny Amendola
Brandin Cooks
Julian Edelman
Chris Hogan
Malcolm Mitchell
ST Matthew Slater

Slater has missed both preseason games with a hamstring injury. If the ailment persists, he could be an option to begin the season on injured reserve. NFL teams can activate two players from injured reserve after they spend eight weeks on the list this season.

TIGHT ENDS (4)
Dwayne Allen
FB James Develin
Rob Gronkowski
James O’Shaughnessy

We still have O’Shaughnessy making the roster over Jacob Hollister, though it’s close. Neither player is an overly impressive run blocker, but O’Shaughnessy has more experience in special teams. Hollister would have to prove to be the much better receiver of the two in the final two preseason games.

OFFENSIVE LINE (8)
David Andrews
Marcus Cannon
Cameron Fleming
Antonio Garcia
Ted Karras
Shaq Mason
Nate Solder
Joe Thuney

Garcia has yet to appear in a preseason game, so he also could be a candidate to begin the season on injured reserve. If that were the case, LaAdrian Waddle would get the fourth offensive tackle spot.

DEFENSIVE LINE (8)
DT Alan Branch
DT Malcom Brown
DL Adam Butler
DE Kony Ealy
DE Trey Flowers
DT Lawrence Guy
DT Vincent Valentine
DE Deatrich Wise Jr.

Butler was impressive as a pass rusher and run-stuffer Saturday night against the Houston Texans. He can play defensive tackle and defensive end. Rivers’ injury opened up a spot on the defensive line, and if the Patriots don’t fill it through trade, waivers or free agency, then Butler could potentially see a versatile role this season.

LINEBACKERS (7)
David Harris
Dont’a Hightower
Brandon King
Harvey Langi
Shea McClellin
Elandon Roberts
Kyle Van Noy

The Patriots need to carry a couple extra linebackers because some, including potentially Hightower, Langi, McClellin and Van Noy, will be used as edge rushers. It’s highly unlikely King will play on defense, but he’s a core special teamer.

DEFENSIVE BACKS (9)
CB Malcolm Butler
S Patrick Chung
S Nate Ebner
CB Stephon Gilmore
S Duron Harmon
CB Cyrus Jones
CB Jonathan Jones
S Devin McCourty
CB Eric Rowe

Cyrus Jones, as a returner, brings more value as a fifth cornerback than Justin Coleman or either of the Patriots’ undrafted free agents. It’s unlikely the Patriots’ fifth cornerback will be thrust into much defensive action this season, barring injury.

SPECIAL TEAMS (3)
P Ryan Allen
LS Joe Cardona
K Stephen Gostkowski

No surprise here.

INJURED RESERVE
DE Derek Rivers

Rivers reportedly tore his ACL during joint practices with the Texans.

IDEAL PRACTICE SQUAD
RB D.J. Foster
WR Austin Carr
TE Jacob Hollister
OT Conor McDermott
G Cole Croston
DE Geneo Grissom
LB Trevor Bates
CB Justin Coleman
CB Kenny Moore
S Jordan Richards

It was equally as difficult narrowing down the practice squad to 10 players as it was whittling the roster down to 53. Some of these players could be claimed on waivers. A team like the Seahawks could have interest in claiming Coleman, who began his NFL career in Seattle. Perhaps the Patriots could get out ahead of things and trade Coleman to the Seahawks.

Players like wide receiver Devin Lucien, defensive tackle Josh Augusta, cornerback D.J. Killings and safeties Damarius Travis and David Jones also deserve practice squad consideration.

Last man in: DL Adam Butler

Last man out: S Jordan Richards

Thumbnail photo via David Butler II/USA TODAY Sports Images

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