The New England Patriots will have some tough cuts to make after training camp and the preseason in order to whittle their roster down to 53 players. Bold prediction, however: Fewer than 53 players currently on the Patriots’ 90-man roster will actually still be in New England by Week 1.
While the Patriots do currently field a competitive roster, there are still some glaring areas of need. Better talent will become available — either by trade, release or on waivers — at certain positions by early September.
The Patriots should still look to upgrade their roster in these areas:
Dan Skipper spent the majority of Monday’s practice playing left tackle. It’s totally OK if you have no idea who Dan Skipper is and previously thought that was a nickname for one of Forrest Gump’s friends. Skipper was playing left tackle because the Patriots lost Trent Brown in free agency, his expected replacement, Isaiah Wynn, is still limited coming off last summer’s torn Achilles, veteran Jared Veldheer retired, and rookie Yodny Cajuste hasn’t been spotted as he recovers from quad surgery.
That leaves the Patriots with the 6-foot-10 Skipper, who has one game of NFL experience since going undrafted out of Arkansas in 2017. The Patriots have to hope Wynn makes a full recovery before Week 1. And even if he does, they still have to cross their fingers that Cajuste returns to the field and catches on before the summer is over to serve as depth.
Left guard Joe Thuney is an insurance policy at left tackle — since he played there in college — but chances are strong the Patriots can find a better depth piece than Skipper via trade or waivers.
Every Patriots 53-man roster projection will list Matt LaCosse, but there’s no consistency for other tight ends included. Ben Watson will serve a four-game suspension to start the season, so that eliminates him. Lance Kendricks, Ryan Izzo and Stephen Anderson all have pretty even chances of making the Patriots’ 53-man roster. Rookie Andrew Beck mostly has played fullback in open practices.
Kendricks, Izzo, Anderson and Beck are OK options to serve as depth before Watson returns, but there’s also a solid chance a better tight end becomes available before the summer ends. Don’t look at it as a lock that at least one of those four players is on the team come Week 1.
Julian Edelman and N’Keal Harry are making the team, and Maurice Harris and Phillip Dorsett are looking pretty close to being roster locks. The Patriots, however, likely will keep a sixth — including Matthew Slater — receiver on this roster. The current candidates, ordered by their odds of making the team, are Jakobi Meyers, Braxton Berrios, Gunner Olszewski, Ryan Davis, Dontrelle Inman, Danny Etling and Damoun Patterson. Demaryius Thomas is still on the physically unable to perform list after undergoing Achilles surgery over the winter, and Josh Gordon is still suspended.
Meyers has shown flashes in camp, and Berrios has versatility as a returner, but none of those players are sure things. The Patriots should still be open to a trade or waiver-wire pickup to boost their receiver depth.