The New England Patriots lost a lot of talent over the 2018 offseason, but they also did a really solid job of replenishing it.
For example, the Patriots let left tackle Nate Solder, running back Dion Lewis, cornerback Malcolm Butler and wide receiver Danny Amendola walk in free agency then replaced them in the draft with left tackle Isaiah Wynn, running back Sony Michel, cornerback Duke Dawson and wide receiver Braxton Berrios. Funny how that works.
The Patriots currently are sitting pretty with a stacked roster. That becomes obvious in an attempt to trim their current 90-man roster down to 53 players.
Expect strong competition in training camp and preseason at almost every position. Roster cuts will be difficult come September.
Here’s our best crack at a post-draft 53-man roster projection.
Out: Danny Etling
As long as Etling doesn’t dominate in the preseason, the Patriots should be able to slip him onto the practice squad. And if he does dominate in the preseason, then the Patriots might as well keep him around.
RUNNING BACK (4)
Out: Mike Gillislee, Jeremy Hill, Ralph Webb
The Patriots could keep Gillislee or Hill over Bolden, but we all know how much they value special teams. Gillislee or Hill might have to convince the Patriots to keep five running backs for a second straight year to guarantee a spot on the roster.
WIDE RECEIVER (6)
Out: Phillip Dorsett, Cody Hollister, Chris Lacy, Riley McCarron, Malcolm Mitchell, Kenny Britt
We’re leaving Mitchell off because of injuries. We’ll believe he takes the field in 2018 — after missing all of last season — when we see it. The Patriots could elect to keep seven wide receivers, but that also seems unnecessary. It would be tough to slip Berrios onto the practice squad, but it’s difficult losing Dorsett, McCarron and Britt.
TIGHT END (4)
FB James Develin
Out: Jacob Hollister, Ryan Izzo, Troy Niklas, Shane Wimann
This was not easy to trim. We think with a full year in the system, Tye will provide more overall upside as a receiver than Hollister. Izzo was the Patriots’ final pick, and Niklas hasn’t done much as a pro to prove he deserves a spot on the 53-man roster. The battle for tight end spots will be fierce between Allen, Tye, Hollister, Izzo, Niklas and Wimann.
OFFENSIVE LINE (9)
C David Andrews
OT Trent Brown
OT Marcus Cannon
OL Cole Croston
OT Antonio Garcia
G Ted Karras
G Shaq Mason
G Joe Thuney
OT Isaiah Wynn
Out: C Luke Bowanko, C James Ferentz, OT Andrew Jelks, OT Ulrick John, G Jason King, OL Matt Tobin, OT LaAdrian Waddle
We’re keeping Croston over Waddle for versatility purposes. Croston can play tackle and guard, while Waddle only can play tackle. Keeping Waddle over Karras would mean carrying six offensive tackles, and that’s unnecessary. Brown, Cannon, Garcia and Wynn have more upside than Waddle, who only has $200,000 guaranteed on his one-year contract. Karras has the versatility to play center or guard.
EDGE DEFENDERS (4)
Out: Keionta Davis, Geneo Grissom, Trent Harris, Eric Lee
Davis and Lee are both young with upside, but the Patriots don’t typically carry more than four defensive ends. Both will be exciting to watch over the summer and could push for roster spots with strong training camps and preseasons.
DEFENSIVE TACKLES (4)
Out: John Atkins, Frank Herron, Vincent Valentine
We’re keeping Butler over Valentine because he provides a different skillset than Brown, Guy and Shelton. Valentine is a little more redundant. He missed all of 2017 with an injury.
Kyle Van Noy
Out: Nicholas Grigsby, Elandon Roberts
There are no obvious cuts in this group. Grigsby was a special-teams stud last season, but how many special-teamers do the Patriots carry? Bolden has more value as a running back than Grigsby has as a linebacker. We have Bentley and Sam making the roster over Roberts, but any combination of those three players could wind up on the Week 1 roster.
Out: Keion Crossen, J.C. Jackson, Cyrus Jones, Ryan Lewis, Jomal Wiltz
It’s tough to cut Cyrus after he was taken in the second round of the 2018 NFL Draft, but do the Patriots draft Dawson if Jones is a lock to make the roster? Probably not. We have Berrios as the team’s primary punt returner over Cyrus in this situation. If Berrios doesn’t make the roster, then Cyrus has a much better chance.
Out: David Jones, A.J. Moore, Damarius Travis
The Patriots almost certainly will keep five safeties on the roster. Richards will probably be one of them (sorry, fans) unless the Patriots sign one of the many talented veteran safeties still on the open market, like Eric Reid and Kenny Vaccaro. We considered keeping six cornerbacks and just four safeties since Dawson has the versatility to play safety. In that situation, Crossen, Jackson, Cyrus and Lewis all are intriguing options.
P Ryan Allen
LS Joe Cardona
K Stephen Gostkowski
The Patriots are bringing in two punters for rookie minicamp tryouts. It seems unlikely they could beat out Allen.
Thumbnail photo via David Butler II/USA TODAY Sports Images