Patriots 53-Man Roster Projection: Who Makes New England’s Final Cut?

There will be some tough cuts in the defensive line group, specifically


The New England Patriots preseason is over. Cutdown day is Tuesday.

Here is our final prediction for the Patriots’ initial 53-man roster:

Quarterbacks (3)
In: Cam Newton, Mac Jones, Brian Hoyer
Out: None
PUP: Jarrett Stidham
We opted to keep just two QBs in our last few 54-man projections, but after witnessing Newton’s COVID protocol mishap and the five-day reentry process that followed, we’re now carrying all three. If the Patriots need to carry a player through cutdown day to place him on short-term injured reserve, Hoyer could be temporarily released and then re-signed. Carrying the veteran backup on the practice squad is another option. The question of which signal-caller will start Week 1 remains unresolved. Newton is the favorite based on preseason snap distribution, but head coach Bill Belichick said after Sunday night’s preseason finale against the New York Giants that the Patriots “still have a lot of decisions to make.”

Running backs (4)
In: Damien Harris, James White, Rhamondre Stevenson, J.J. Taylor
Out: Brandon Bolden
Even after trading Sony Michel, the Patriots might be too heavy at running back. Bolden, a special teams-focused veteran who didn’t play in the preseason, gets the ax here. Stevenson and Taylor both looked great during the team’s exhibition slate.

Wide receivers (4)
In: Nelson Agholor, Jakobi Meyers, Kendrick Bourne, Gunner Olszewski
Out: N’Keal Harry, Kristian Wilkerson, Isaiah Zuber, Tre Nixon
There are a number of plausible alternative scenarios here. The Patriots could keep Harry and move him to short-term IR. They also could opt to keep Wilkerson, who started and finished the summer strong with a drop-filled dip in the middle. And Olszewski, who struggled against the Giants, might be closer to the bubble than we originally anticipated, especially if the Patriots believe Taylor can ably handle punt-return duties.

Tight ends (4)
In: Hunter Henry, Jonnu Smith, Devin Asiasi, fullback Jakob Johnson
Out: Matt LaCosse
IR: Dalton Keene
Tough break for LaCosse, who was in the midst of a good camp when a hard hit knocked him out of the team’s first joint practice with the Philadelphia Eagles. But he has yet to return to the field, and it remains unclear how long he’ll be out. We also could see LaCosse sticking over Johnson or making the 53 with a subsequent move to IR in mind. The Patriots added Kahale Warring to this group last week but cut him just three days later.

Offensive line (8)
In: David Andrews, Shaq Mason, Mike Onwenu, Trent Brown, Isaiah Wynn, Ted Karras, Justin Herron, Yodny Cajuste
Out: James Ferentz, Korey Cunningham, Will Sherman, Alex Redmond
IR: Marcus Martin
Cajuste, a 2019 third-rounder who has yet to play a regular-season snap, made a late push to put himself in contention for the final O-line spot. We previously had Ferentz landing that spot as the second interior backup behind Karras, but he should be easy to carry on the practice squad.

Defensive line (6)
In: Davon Godchaux, Lawrence Guy, Deatrich Wise, Henry Anderson, Christian Barmore, Carl Davis
Out: Montravius Adams, Akeem Spence, Bill Murray, Nick Thurman
PUP: Byron Cowart
Davis performed well enough this summer to earn a roster spot. If you’re looking for a surprise cut candidate, Anderson could be at risk. He has $3 million guaranteed in his contract and recently received a rave review from Bill Belichick, but he also played deep into Sunday night’s game — never a great sign for an established veteran. Regardless, there will be some tough cuts in this group. Even Murray, a long shot, was impressive this preseason.

Linebackers (9)
In: Dont’a Hightower, Kyle Van Noy, Matt Judon, Josh Uche, Ja’Whaun Bentley, Chase Winovich, Ronnie Perkins, Harvey Langi, Brandon King
Out: Anfernee Jennings, Tashawn Bower, Cassh Maluia
IR: Raekwon McMillan
PUP: Terez Hall
NFI: Cameron McGrone
The name to watch here is Winovich. He’s not likely to be cut, but would the Patriots consider trading him after bringing in Van Noy, Judon and Perkins this offseason? Like Anderson, he was on the field late in the fourth quarter Sunday night. We are waiving Jennings, a 2020 third-round pick who hasn’t been able to stay healthy this summer.

Cornerbacks (7)
In: Stephon Gilmore, J.C. Jackson, Jonathan Jones, Jalen Mills, Myles Bryant, Shaun Wade, Justin Bethel
Out: Joejuan Williams, Michael Jackson, Dee Virgin, D’Angelo Ross
This all depends on Gilmore. If he’s removed from the physically unable to perform list before Tuesday’s deadline, the Patriots might not have room for Williams after acquiring Wade in a trade last week. Ross started over Williams on Sunday — an ominous sign for the 2019 second-rounder’s roster standing. If Gilmore stays on PUP, however, he would be forced to miss at least the first six games, opening a spot for another corner. Losing Gilmore for the first 35 percent of the season would leave a crater in New England’s otherwise well-stocked defense.

Safeties (4)
In: Devin McCourty, Kyle Dugger, Adrian Phillips, Cody Davis
Out: Adrian Colbert
NFI: Joshuah Bledsoe
No surprises here. These four are roster locks, with McCourty, Dugger and Phillips set to play major defensive roles and Davis one of the Patriots’ top special teamers. Bryant also will factor into this group as a corner/safety hybrid, and Mills and Jonathan Jones have safety experience, as well.

Specialists (4)
In: K Nick Folk, P Jake Bailey, LS Joe Cardona, ST Matthew Slater
Out: K Quinn Nordin
Folk over Nordin isn’t a no-brainer, but in our eyes, the latter didn’t show enough consistency to beat out the steady veteran. Nordin has a monster leg, though, and could have a successful career ahead of him if he can rein in his accuracy. Expect the Patriots to attempt to keep him around on the practice squad.

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