Counting Patriots’ Available Open Roster Spots Is Getting Complicated

The Patriots can sign seven additional players


May 3, 2021

The New England Patriots currently have 84 players on their 90-man roster and seven available open roster spots. No, that math does not add up, and it’s even more complicated than it appears.

The Patriots received a roster exemption for fullback Jakob Johnson for his inclusion in the NFL’s International Pathway Program. That means that Johnson does not count against New England’s 90-man roster. He would, however, if he made the Patriots’ 53-man roster.

The 90-man roster does still include Patrick Chung because the safety’s retirement has yet to be officially processed. It’s likely being delayed for salary-cap purposes. If Chung retires before June 1, then around $1 million would be subtracted from New England’s available cap space. If Chung retires after June 1, then his cap hit spreads out, and over $1 million in cap space would come available.

So, the Patriots have 83 players on their roster who intend on playing in 2021. Add in Chung, and subtract Johnson, and they have seven available roster spots.

No Patriots undrafted free-agent signings have been leaked nor been announced since the 2021 NFL Draft ended Saturday. It’s possible New England is waiting to try out players at rookie minicamp or plan to sign available veteran free agents. It’s also possible they’ve signed players, but they haven’t become public.

The Patriots’ roster is loaded, however, and it was a much more shallow draft class than usual. So, if a rookie free agent did join New England’s roster, he’d be a longshot to make the squad.

It’s likely that the Patriots will fill their 90-man roster one way or another before organized team activities practices start this spring.

Thumbnail photo via Vincent Carchietta/USA TODAY Sports Images
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