The New England Patriots generally carry six safeties on the roster because head coach Bill Belichick relies heavily on the position for special teams. "Safety must be a part of the special teams," a former scout said after a crash course on Belichick-style team building.
And it's true- 22.4% of all Patriots special teams snaps have been by a safety, more than any other position group on the roster. The next closest is linebacker with 17.9%, and the third most is the entire offensive line which combines for 10.7%, usually on field goal attempts.
Starters Devin McCourty and Patrick Chung are locks, as are Duron Harmon and 2015 2nd round pick Jordan Richards. Special teamers Nate Ebner and Brandon King will likely take up the remaining spots, while safety Cedric Thompson is firmly on the bubble.
The Patriots added Thompson to the practice squad in January and subsequently signed him to a futures contract, so it's possible he returns to the practice squad for 2016.
This positional grouping is pretty set moving into 2016, so let's change up our poll question. If the Patriots were only to keep five safeties, who would make the team?
Check out our Running Back poll here. (James White: 26%, D.J. Foster: 26%, Donald Brown: 23%)
Check out our Wide Receiver poll here. (Devin Lucien: 39%, Nate Washington: 34%)
Check out our Tight End poll here. (Clay Harbor: 61%)
Check out our Interior Offensive Line poll here. (David Andrews: 46%, Tre Jackson: 37%)
Check out our Offensive Tackle poll here. (Joe Thuney: 42%, Marcus Cannon: 33%)
Check out our Edge Defender poll here. (Trey Flowers: 52%, Rufus Johnson: 24%,Geneo Grissom: 24%)
Check out our Defensive Tackle poll here. (Joe Vellano: 31%, Frank Kearse: 20%, Only 4 DTs: 20%)
Check out our Linebacker poll here. (Kamu Grugier-Hill: 73%)
Check out our Cornerback poll here. (Darryl Roberts: 45%, Justin Coleman: 42%)