Patriots’ Most Surprising Cuts Include Draft Picks, Both Kickers

The Patriots are left without a kicker after Saturday's roster cuts

by Doug Kyed

September 5, 2020

New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick kicked the can down the road Saturday when he cut both of his team’s kickers.

The Patriots’ most surprising decision this weekend was to release veteran kicker Nick Folk and waive rookie kicker Justin Rohrwasser. The Patriots currently are kicker-less, though both players could wind up back in the organization.

It’s possible that the Patriots released Folk, who won’t need to clear waivers to return, to make room for a player they eventually plan to place on injured reserve Monday. A player put on IR earlier than Monday would not be allowed to return this season. A player placed on injured reserve Monday can return after three weeks.

Defensive tackle Beau Allen is a candidate for injured reserve. He missed all of training camp with an undisclosed injury.

Rohrwasser also could land on the Patriots’ practice squad if he clears waivers Sunday at noon. The Patriots clearly believed Rohrwasser, who was selected in the fifth round of the 2020 NFL Draft, was going to be their future at kicker. The fact that they’re willing to expose him to waivers reflects poorly on the selection while three other rookie kickers made NFL teams this summer.

Here’s the full list of Patriots roster cuts:

QB Brian Lewerke
RB Lamar Miller
RB J.J. Taylor
FB Paul Quessenberry
WR Jeff Thomas
WR Andre Baccellia
WR Devin Ross
WR Isaiah Zuber
TE Paul Butler
TE Jake Burt
OL Ben Braden
C Tyler Gauthier
DT Bill Murray
DT Nick Thurman
DT Xavier Williams
LB Tashawn Bower
LB Caash Maluia
LB Terez Hall
LB Scoota Harris
CB D’Angelo Ross
DB Myles Bryant
K Justin Rohrwasser
K Nick Folk

Releasing Maluia, a 2020 sixth-round pick, and Miller also were of relative surprise. The Patriots were expected to hold onto Maluia, Hall or Harris at inside linebacker. Instead, they kept none of the three and now will have to see which player — if any — clears waivers to land on the practice squad.

The Patriots are shallow at inside linebacker where they kept just Ja’Whaun Bentley, Brandon Copeland and rookies Josh Uche and Anfernee Jennings on their 53-man roster.

Miller, like Folk, easily could return at a later date since he doesn’t have to clear waivers. He’s still recovering from a torn ACL suffered in 2019. The Patriots elected to roster just four running backs in Sony Michel, Damien Harris, Rex Burkhead and James White. Harris currently is dealing with a hand injury and could miss the first week of the season. He’s also a candidate for IR.

Rohrwasser and Maluia were the only draft picks cut by the Patriots, who kept 2020 selections Uche, Jennings, safety Kyle Dugger, tight ends Dalton Keene and Devin Asiasi and offensive linemen Mike Onwenu and Justin Herron on their roster. The Patriots made 12 overall picks in the 2020 NFL Draft. Center Dustin Woodard, a seventh-round pick, retired earlier this summer.

The Patriots didn’t keep an undrafted free agent on their initial roster fo the first time since 2004, breaking a 16-year streak.

For accountability sake, had Miller, Thomas, Maluia and Folk on our final 53-man roster projection and Herron, tight end Ryan Izzo, offensive tackle Korey Cunningham and outside linebacker Derek Rivers off of it.

It’s important to note the Patriots’ 53-man roster is not finalized. They could elect to make waiver claims or acquire players via trade this week. They definitely will need a kicker, whether that’s Folk, Rohrwasser or an outside option, by Week 1 when they take on the Miami Dolphins on Sept. 13 at Gillette Stadium.

The 53 players who made the Patriots’ initial 2020 roster can celebrate Saturday night. But they shouldn’t get comfortable.

Thumbnail photo via New England Patriots

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