Judgment day is nigh for the New England Patriots.
The Patriots have until 4 p.m. ET on Tuesday to trim their roster from 80 players to 53. While that finalized roster almost certainly will undergo additional tweaks before their Sept. 11 opener against the Miami Dolphins, it’ll provide us with a mostly complete picture of who will be playing for the Patriots this season.
Here’s our final crack at predicting New England’s 53-man roster:
In: Mac Jones, Brian Hoyer, Bailey Zappe
Hoyer’s $3 million in contract guarantees should lock him into a roster spot. Zappe showed potential this summer but was erratic, throwing an interception in all three of his preseason appearances.
RUNNING BACK (4)
In: Damien Harris, Rhamondre Stevenson, J.J. Taylor, Pierre Strong
Out: Ty Montgomery, Kevin Harris
A few days ago, Montgomery was a roster lock who looked poised for a significant role in the Patriots’ offense. His ankle injury complicates that. If the injury was as severe as it appeared, it could open a spot for either Taylor or Kevin Harris, both of whom would have fallen below the cutline in this projection had Montgomery been healthy. Taylor, whose hustle play to recover a fumble was one of the standout moments of last Friday’s preseason finale, gets the nod here, with the Patriots hoping to sneak Harris onto the practice squad. If New England believes Harris wouldn’t make it onto the practice squad but Taylor would, these two could be flipped.
(UPDATE: Bill Belichick on Monday shared an encouraging update on Montgomery, suggesting his injury is not season-ending. The length of his recovery will influence whether the Patriots feel the need to carry an additional back.)
WIDE RECEIVER (6)
In: Jakobi Meyers, DeVante Parker, Kendrick Bourne, Nelson Agholor, Tyquan Thornton, Lil’Jordan Humphrey
Out: Tre Nixon, Kristian Wilkerson, Josh Hammond
With the Patriots likely to place Thornton (fractured clavicle) on short-term injured reserve after cutdown day, the big-bodied Humphrey sticks to provide depth at wideout and tight end. Montgomery also can play receiver, so his injury removes a reserve option here, as well. New England reportedly worked out free agent Dazz Newsome on Sunday, so it could be looking to add to this group before the season.
TIGHT END (2)
In: Hunter Henry, Jonnu Smith
Out: Devin Asiasi, Matt Sokol, Jalen Wydermyer
We had Asiasi off the roster in last week’s projection, and it’s hard to move him up after he missed the final preseason game with an injury. Look for the Patriots to carry at least one additional tight end on the practice squad.
OFFENSIVE LINE (8)
In: Trent Brown, Cole Strange, David Andrews, Mike Onwenu, Isaiah Wynn, Yodny Cajuste, Justin Herron, Arlington Hambright
NFI: Andrew Stueber
Out: James Ferentz, Chasen Hines, Yasir Durant, Will Sherman, Drew Desjarlais, Bill Murray, Kody Russey
A late Wynn trade obviously would upend this group. The Patriots clearly were evaluating Cajuste and Herron for the No. 3 tackle role last week, giving both reps on the right and left side. New England also hosted free agent tackle Tyrone Wheatley for a workout over the weekend. Undrafted rookie Russey is a dark-horse candidate to earn a spot as a backup center.
DEFENSIVE LINE (6)
In: Davon Godchaux, Lawrence Guy, Christian Barmore, Deatrich Wise, LaBryan Ray, DaMarcus Mitchell
Suspended: Daniel Ekuale
Out: Henry Anderson, Carl Davis, Sam Roberts, Jeremiah Pharms
One change here from last week, with Mitchell making the cut as a core special teamer and Roberts falling short. Ray and Mitchell are undrafted rookies who have impressed this summer, allowing them to beat out veterans Anderson and Davis in this projection. The Patriots may want to roster an additional D-tackle type, but Ekuale will be eligible to return from his suspension in Week 3.
In: Matthew Judon, Ja’Whaun Bentley, Raekwon McMillan, Mack Wilson, Josh Uche, Anfernee Jennings, Jahlani Tavai
IR: Ronnie Perkins
Out: Cameron McGrone, Harvey Langi, Nate Wieland
Tavai’s issues in coverage are concerning, but the ex-Detroit Lion has repped with the first-team defense and started each of the last two preseason games. That suggests Bill Belichick expects him to contribute on defense this season after he logged just 56 defensive snaps in 2021. McGrone didn’t show enough this summer to justify anything more than a spot on the practice squad. Perkins’ NFL debut will have to wait until 2023 after the Patriots placed him on season-ending IR last week.
In: Jalen Mills, Jonathan Jones, Myles Bryant, Marcus Jones, Jack Jones, Justin Bethel
IR: Malcolm Butler, Joejuan Williams
Out: Terrance Mitchell, Shaun Wade
Last week, we wrote about the Patriots’ final cornerback spot potentially coming down to a choice between Mitchell and Wade. Instead, they wind up cutting both in this projection, with a late injury draining the momentum Wade built in Week 2 of the preseason. New England opts to roll with just their top trio of Mills, Jonathan Jones and Bryant, plus with the promising but raw rookie Joneses. Bethel also makes the cut for his elite special teams talents.
In: Devin McCourty, Adrian Phillips, Kyle Dugger, Jabrill Peppers, Joshuah Bledsoe
Out: Brad Hawkins
Bledsoe earned the 53rd and final roster spot in this projection, getting the nod over Wade. The 2021 sixth-round draft pick was active on defense and special teams in camp and can play both safety and the slot. This is the Patriots’ deepest and most versatile position group.
In: K Nick Folk, P Jake Bailey, LS Joe Cardona, ST Matthew Slater, ST Cody Davis, ST Brenden Schooler
Out: K Tristan Vizcaino
One of three UDFAs on this roster, Schooler should make an immediate impact in the kicking game after being tutored by Slater and Davis throughout OTAs and training camp. Think of him as a more athletic Nate Ebner.
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