Wide receiver Donte Moncrief earned a permanent call-up to the New England Patriots’ 53-man roster.
The Patriots are officially signing Moncrief off of their practice squad and to the 53-man roster, a source told NESN.com.
Moncrief played the Patriots’ last two games as a temporary elevation off of their practice squad. He caught a 15-yard pass and has returned two kicks for 75 yards, including a 53-yarder in Sunday’s 20-17 win over the Arizona Cardinals.
The Patriots went into Saturday with two open spots on their 53-man roster.
The 6-foot-2, 216-pound wide receiver was selected by the Indianapolis Colts in the third round of the 2014 NFL Draft. Moncrief, 27, has caught 205 passes for 2,576 yards with 21 touchdowns in seven seasons. He’s also spent time with the Jacksonville Jaguars, Carolina Panthers, Pittsburgh Steelers and New York Jets. His best season came with the Colts in 2015 when he caught 64 passes for 733 yards with six touchdowns. He also caught seven touchdowns in nine games with the Colts in 2016 and hauled in 48 passes for 668 yards with three touchdowns with the Jaguars in 2018.
Moncrief joins Jakobi Meyers, Damiere Byrd, N’Keal Harry, Isaiah Ford and Gunner Olszewski on the Patriots’ wide receiver depth chart. The Patriots also have Isaiah Zuber and Kristian Wilkerson on their practice squad and Julian Edelman on injured reserve.
Moncrief initially signed to the Patriots’ practice squad Nov. 4. He quickly passed Ford, who was acquired in a trade with the Miami Dolphins at the Nov. 3 trade deadline, on New England’s wide receiver depth chart. He could compete for No. 3 snaps with Harry behind Meyers and Byrd. He also likely will continue to serve as the Patriots’ top kick returner, a role previously manned by Olszewski.
“Donte has had a real good attitude since he got here,” Patriots head coach Bill Belichick said Thursday. “He’s had to learn some different things offensively, both terminology and some route concepts and so forth, but he’s done a good job of that. He’s shown his good running skills and good athleticism and good hands. So, those are good qualities for a kickoff returner. He’s got good size and speed and toughness and runs hard. We thought we’d give him a look back there. He did a nice job. He ran through an arm tackle and showed good ability to get up to the second level and ran past the kicker and had a big return for us.
“So, he’s shown those things in practice but not in many live opportunities, but those carried over into the game. So, that’s a good thing, so he’ll hopefully continue to gain confidence in that role. He’s embraced it and he certainly helped our team last week with it.”
Moncrief’s signing will become official Saturday. The Patriots could add another player to their 53-man roster for their Week 13 matchup against the Los Angeles Chargers by Saturday’s 4 p.m. deadline. The Patriots have a quick turnaround before playing the Los Angeles Rams on Thursday.