The New England Patriots filled up their 90-man roster but … also didn’t over last weekend.
Let us explain. The Patriots currently have 90 players on their roster. But fullback Jakob Johnson doesn’t count against the Patriots’ 90-man roster, because he’s still considered an international pathway program player. So, if our math is right, the Patriots do still have one more open roster spot with 64 veteran players, 10 draft picks and 16 undrafted free agents.
Let’s whittle that down to 53 in our first roster projection of the offseason.
IN: Brian Hoyer, Jarrett Stidham
OUT: J’Mar Smith, Brian Lewere
Ultimately, Smith and Lewerke are probably battling it out for one of now 12 practice squad spots. It will be interesting to see how long the Patriots actually keep all four quarterbacks. One of Smith or Lewerke could be gone shortly after the Patriots can begin practicing.
RUNNING BACK (6)
IN: Brandon Bolden, Rex Burkhead, Damien Harris, Sony Michel, FB Danny Vitale, James White
OUT: FB Jakob Johnson, J.J. Taylor
There’s a possibility Bolden or Burkhead could be salary-cap casualties at some point. If that occurs, the Patriots would probably only carry four running backs and one fullback.
WIDE RECEIVER (6)
IN: Julian Edelman, N’Keal Harry, Jakobi Meyers, Mohamed Sanu, Matthew Slater, Damiere Byrd
OUT: Quincy Adeboyejo, Marqise Lee, Gunner Olszewski, Devin Ross, Will Hastings, Sean Riley, Isaiah Zuber, Jeff Thomas
Unless the Patriots add another wide receiver, we see Byrd battling it out with the omissions for one spot. Byrd is the safe pick at this point, but it’s possible that Lee stays healthy, Olszewski wins the punt return job over rookie safety Kyle Dugger or one of the UDFAs — Hastings, Riley, Zuber or Thomas — stands out.
If the Patriots bring in another top receiver candidate, then Meyers could be battling for a job.
TIGHT END (3)
IN: Devin Asiasi, Dalton Keene, Matt LaCosse
OUT: Ryan Izzo, Rashod Berry, Jake Burt
If Asiasi and Keene clearly beat out LaCosse for starting roles, then maybe the Patriots only keep two tight ends. Otherwise, this looks solid.
OFFENSIVE LINE (9)
IN: David Andrews, Marcus Cannon, Shaq Mason, Joe Thuney, Isaiah Wynn, Yodny Cajuste, Hjalte Froholdt, Korey Cunningham, Michel Onwenu
OUT: Jermaine Eluemunor, Justin Herron, Najee Toran, Dustin Woodard
This was difficult. We could see the Patriots still adding a veteran tackle or center to this list because we begrudgingly included Cunningham and Onwenu. Onwenu makes it because he was the highest-drafted rookie offensive lineman over Herron and Woodard. The Patriots probably could use Woodard, a center, on their roster more, though. We’re assuming, in making this list, that Froholdt will receive reps at center in practice.
DEFENSIVE LINE (4)
IN: Beau Allen, Adam Butler, Lawrence Guy, Byron Cowart
OUT: Nick Thurman, Deatrich Wise, Bill Murray, Nick Coe, Courtney Wallace
Wise certainly could make the team, but it seems like the Patriots are shifting toward more athletic edge defenders, drafting players like Chase Winovich, Josh Uche and Anfernee Jennings in recent years.
IN: John Simon, Chase Winovich, Ja’Whaun Bentley, Dont’a Hightower, Anfernee Jennings, Brandon King, Josh Uche, Brandon Copeland, De’Jon Harris
OUT: Tashawn Bower, Shilique Calhoun, Derek Rivers, Trevon Hill, Terez Hall, Cassh Maluia, Kyahva Tezino
Simon, Winovich and Jennings are pure edge players. Bentley and Harris are off-ball linebackers. Hightower, Uche and Copeland can play both roles. King is a special teamer.
Harris, who compares to Elandon Roberts, is our early undrafted pick to make the roster.
IN: Justin Bethel, Stephon Gilmore, JC Jackson, Jonathan Jones, Jason McCourty, Joejuan Williams
OUT: Lenzy Pipkins, D’Angelo Ross, Myles Bryant
Ross flashed potential as a rookie in training camp, but it wasn’t enough to bump anyone off the list at cornerback.
IN: Patrick Chung, Kyle Dugger, Devin McCourty, Adrian Phillips, Cody Davis
OUT: Terrence Brooks, Malik Gant, Adarius Pickett
Dugger and McCourty are stone-cold locks. Chung would be a very, very, very surprising cut. There are seemingly only two roster spots for Phillips, Davis and Brooks. Brooks would be fourth on the Patriots’ strong safety depth chart behind Chung, Phillips and Dugger. He played well in 2019, but we have to omit him from our first 53-man roster projection.
SPECIAL TEAMS (3)
IN: P Jake Bailey, LS Joe Cardona, K Justin Rohrwasser
Last player in: OT Korey Cunningham
Toughest omission: S Terrence Brooks
Top practice squad picks: CB D’Angelo Ross, WR Gunner Olszewski