The mandatory phase of the New England Patriots' offseason workouts is over – at least until training camp starts in late July – and we have re-entered the quieter parts of the NFL calendar.
However, while the football world seemingly turns slower these days it does not stop. After all, by late August, each team has to start making its roster cuts. Until then, players have to secure their spots on the team; they need to do their jobs (well) or someone else will.
Over the course of the next few weeks, we will take a look at the men fighting for those spots on the 2016 New England Patriots. Today, we'll take a look at cornerback E.J. Biggers.
Name: E.J. Biggers
Jersey number: 39
Size: 6'0, 190 lbs.
2015 review: After starting his career with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and later joining the Washington Redskins, Biggers signed a one-year deal with the Philadelphia Eagles in April 2015. He ended up sharing snaps on defense with second-round rookie Eric Rowe as the Eagles’ number three cornerback, while also being used as a core special teamer.
Overall, Biggers appeared in all 16 games this season, playing 46.4% of Philadelphia’s defensive snaps and 60.3% of the team’s special teams snaps. He finished the season with 39 tackles and seven passes defensed. But while he had a serviceable first season in Philadelphia, the Eagles did not opt to re-sign Biggers.
Therefore, the Patriots signed the veteran to a one-year, $840,000 deal in March.
2016 preview: Biggers’ biggest qualities are his experience on both defense and as a gunner on special teams. Still, considering the current composition of New England’s defensive backs, the 29-year old faces an uphill battle to earn a backup spot with the team.
After all, three cornerback spots are already taken by Malcolm Butler, Logan Ryan and Cyrus Jones. With the Patriots likely not keeping more than four or five cornerbacks, Biggers needs to make use of his experience to beat out the young players he’s fighting against: Justin Coleman, Darryl Roberts and rookies V’Angelo Bentley, Jonathan Jones and Cre’von LeBlanc.
If Biggers is able to outperform those five players on defense and special teams, or if they either fail to take the next step or adapt to the NFL game, then his chances of making the team look very good. However, if he cannot convince the coaching staff to keep experience over potential, then his tenure in Foxboro will be over before it even began.
E.J. Biggers was a low-risk free agency signing, that offers experience and versatility. If those traits are enough to earn him a roster spot remains to be seen. When looking at the current cornerback depth chart and its youth and talent, however, it would not be a surprise to see Biggers not survive roster cuts.