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 continue the series with guard Chris Barker.
Name: Chris Barker
Jersey number: 64
Size: 6’2, 300 lbs.
2015 review: Chris Barker, as he has been his entire three-year NFL career, was primarily a practice squad player in 2015 – his place on the unit was far from secure, though. Overall, Barker was part of 10 transactions during the 2015 league year and only one of them led to actual playing time.
The Nevada product was promoted to New England's active roster on November 14, prior to the team's game against the New York Giants. He was active for that contest – only the sixth time in his career that this was the case – but played a mere four snaps. Two days after the game, Barker was released and re-signed to the practice squad again.
Following the season and the end of his practice squad contract, the Patriots once again signed Barker to a reserve/futures deal.
2016 preview: Of the seven guards the Patriots currently have under contract, Barker has the worst odds to make the team. After all, he was unable to earn a role on the team's roster the last three seasons and his ceiling is the lowest of all interior offensive linemen. In short: it would be a huge surprise if he was able to beat out the competition he faces.
Therefore, Barker – at best – might once again be headed for New England's practice squad. However, he faces some talented competition there as well: four of the other six guards on the Patriots' roster are practice squad eligible and every player of those four that does not make the team is direct competition for Barker's spot.
Consequently, the 25-year old needs to have a solid training camp if he wants to spend the next season on the Patriots' payroll and stay ahead of less experienced players. If he can't show the coaches that he is worth keeping around, however, his tenure in Foxboro will likely come to an end after three seasons. Don't be surprised if this happens.
Chris Barker does not project to be much more than a depth option and practice squad candidate for the 2016 Patriots. Given the Patriots' young talent at the interior offensive line positions, though, even reaching the practice squad might be an uphill climb for the three-year veteran.