Why These Four Patriots UDFAs Will Be Players To Watch This Summer

The New England Patriots signed 15 rookie free agents after the 2020 NFL Draft. After seeing the terms of their contracts, we’ll be keeping an especially close eye on four of them.

Linebacker De’Jon “Scoota” Harris ($140,000), defensive tackle Bill Murray ($125,000), running back J.J. Taylor ($100,000) and wide receiver Isaiah Zuber ($100,000) all reportedly received at least $100,000 in guaranteed money from the Patriots — a significant amount for any UDFA.

ESPN’s Mike Reiss on Tuesday shared the full list of guarantees:

More Patriots: Get To Know New England’s Undrafted Rookies

Harris, whose contract terms previously were reported by NESN’s Doug Kyed, is a thumping, undersized linebacker in the Elandon Roberts mold. Taylor is a 5-foot-5 dynamo who plays like a more powerful Dion Lewis.

Zuber, one of several slot receiver types in this UDFA class and an experienced kick/punt returner, put up impressive receiving numbers at Kansas State before closing out his college career with a relatively quiet season at Mississipi State.

Murray might be the most notable name on this list — and not just because of his notable name. Unlike Harris (Arkansas), Taylor (Arizona) and Zuber, all of whom played for Power Five programs, Murray is a product of the FCS, plying his trade at William & Mary in the Colonial Athletic Association.

The Patriots currently have questionable depth at defensive tackle, which works in Murray’s favor.

Tight end Jake Burt ($85,000) — a Boston College product and Massachusetts native — and linebacker Kyahva Tezino ($70,000) also received substantial guaranteed salaries. Receiver Jeff Thomas, who showed draft-worthy talent but a worrisome lack of discipline at Miami, got just $2,500 guaranteed, tied with quarterback Brian Lewerke for lowest of the bunch. 

(UPDATE: Reiss later amended his initial report, relaying that Rashod Berry actually received $82,500 guaranteed, not $8,250. Berry primarily was a blocking tight end at Ohio State but also played defensive end in two games last season.)

Before this year, New England had paid just two undrafted rookies $100,000-plus in guaranteed money: linebacker Harvey Langi ($115,000 in 2017) and tight end/fullback Andrew Beck ($115,000 in 2019). Langi made the 53-man roster. Beck didn’t but was claimed off waivers by Denver and played in all 16 games as a rookie. 

The Patriots also gave tight end Jacob Hollister $90,000 guaranteed in 2017. At least one UDFA has made the Patriots’ initial roster in each of the last 16 seasons.

More Patriots: Who Is New England’s Most Intriguing UDFA?

Thumbnail photo via Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY Sports Images

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