The New England Patriots have trimmed the roster to 75 players and you can see when they made each move on our roster cut tracker here. But after looking at the players that didn’t make the team, there are three clear categories of players that are no longer on the roster.
1. Injured Players
The Patriots had an easy decision here with players that were unlikely to contribute. Kearse will likely come to an injury settlement with the Patriots at some point over the regular season, while Jackson, Lewis, and Vollmer were placed on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) reserve list
Players on the PUP list can return after week 6, so they are not done for the year. That said, Vollmer is not expected to return, although he might show some good progress over the next few weeks. Placing Vollmer on the PUP list instead of the injured reserve just increases the options for a possible return.
The only player on the PUP list not to be made inactive is wide receiver Danny Amendola, so take that as you will. It could be a sign of a return early in the 2016 season. As the Herald’s Jeff Howe has noted, the Patriots have until Saturday at 4 PM EST to decide whether or not to place the receiver on the PUP list for the start of the season.
2. Veterans without a chance
Patriots release RB Donald Brown.
Patriots release TE Bear Pascoe.
Patriots release CB E.J. Biggers.
Patriots release WR Nate Washington.
Patriots release DT Terrance Knighton.
Patriots release LB Ramon Humber.
The Patriots have also made an active decision to move on from some veterans that were on the fringe of making the team. Each player was either out played, or on par with a younger option, which is why the Patriots kept the younger and cheaper player.
Remember that “vested veterans”, or players with 4 years of experience in the NFL, have their base salaries fully guaranteed if they’re on the roster for week 1. The Patriots would rather keep the younger players because it gives the team more flexibility.
The fact that players like tight end Clay Harbor and defensive tackle Markus Kuhn are still on the roster means that the team still thinks they could contribute this year.
3. Young players in deep, established positions
The Patriots made the decision to move on from some of the younger players, too.
Vereen and Thompson were at the bottom of a stacked depth chart behind the likes of Devin McCourty, Patrick Chung, Duron Harmon, Jordan Richards, Nate Ebner, and Brandon King. They were never going to make the team.
The same applies to tight end Steven Scheu, who is stuck behind Rob Gronkowski, Martellus Bennett, AJ Derby, and Clay Harbor.
Bentley fell behind in the cornerback competition as fellow undrafted rookies Cre’Von LeBlanc and Jonathan Jones stood out and earned time with the top defensive unit. It was clear that Bentley didn’t offer the same ability on defense and he wasn’t a dynamic enough returner to become a specialist.
Milton didn’t have a chance and it’s likely the Patriots will give Nate Solder, Marcus Cannon, LaAdrian Waddle, and Cameron Fleming all the snaps against the Giants, so there was no need to keep him around.
The young players that have stuck around are noteworthy because they are now elevated to potential practice squad candidates. Players like wide receiver DeAndre Carter, tight end Bryce Williams, offensive guard Ted Karras, defensive tackle Woodrow Hamilton, linebacker Elandon Roberts, and safety Vinnie Sunseri are all possible practice squad options.
The Patriots decision to release C Bryan Stork is unique because it kind of draws from all three categories. He’s not injured as far as the Patriots are concerned, but he failed Washington’s physical exam. He’s not a vested veteran, but he was a multi-year starter that deserved respect. He’s not a young player, but he was definitely behind David Andrews in the depth chart.
Head coach Bill Belichick has a difficult decision moving forward as the team has to trim down to 53 players by 4 PM EST on Saturday. It won’t be as simple as placing a player in one of these three categories.