There are free-agent signings, trade acquisitions, waiver claims and scout-team additions. Upon arrival, some remain for a year or more while others don’t last long enough to receive an ID card to the building.
That is the circuitous NFL.
With a team’s max capacity fluctuating from 90 to 53 players – and 63 if accounting for the practice squad during the regular season – changes loom from the cuts of August until the fliers of July. And through it all, plenty of familiar names are left resurfacing across the rest of the league.
As far as the organization in Foxborough is concerned, 91 currently are.
That’s how many onetime New England Patriots players now reside under contract elsewhere before another year’s worth of organized team activities, mandatory minicamps and training camps begin. The tally will shift as one transaction wire gives way to the next.
It dropped to 89 on Tuesday, as Dallas waived linebacker James Morris, who first entered as an undrafted rookie with the Patriots in 2014. Then it returned to 90 on Wednesday, as Philadelphia inked New England’s single-season record-setter in rushing touchdowns, LeGarrette Blount. And on Friday, it climbed to 91 as Cleveland claimed guard Chris Barker.
But it begs the question: As it stands, which opponents carry the most ex-Patriots entering the summer?
Here’s look through the other 31 offseason rosters to find the answer.
- Indianapolis Colts – Kamar Aiken, Akeem Ayers, Jon Bostic, Darius Butler, Rashaan Melvin, Barkevious Mingo, Jabaal Sheard, Adam Vinatieri
Since Chris Ballard took over as general manager in January, the Colts have traded tight end Dwayne Allen to the Patriots and agreed to terms with three players who made stops in New England, including Mingo and Sheard, who logged their most recent snaps in a Patriots uniform. All totaled, that brings the Colts into the lead with eight Pats ties. Vinatieri is by far the longest-tenured in that mix, having kicked two full seasons in the RCA dome before Lucas Oil Stadium opened in 2008.
- Buffalo Bills – Shamiel Gary, Ryan Groy, Andre Holmes, Ramon Humber, Leonard Johnson, Brandon Tate, Jerel Worthy
- San Francisco 49ers – DeAndre Carter, Robbie Gould, Brian Hoyer, Chris Jones, Don Jones, Vinnie Sunseri, Dekoda Watson
While the Patriots have latched onto two restricted free agents from Buffalo over the last two years in wideout Chris Hogan and running back Mike Gillislee, it isn’t necessarily a one-sided representation. New England’s AFC East opponent carries seven once-Patriots. And as for the 49ers, now led by rookie GM John Lynch, there’s also seven to account for. San Francisco would have sat with eight if not for the waiving of pass-catcher Chris Harper following the draft.
- New York Giants – Jonathan Casillas, Jon Halapio, Deontae Skinner, Robert Thomas, Shane Vereen
- Pittsburgh Steelers – Brandon Dixon, L.J. Fort, Xavier Grimble, Keavon Milton, Trey Williams
- Tennessee Titans – Matt Cassel, Josh Kline, Jonathan Krause, Logan Ryan, Jimmy Staten
With five ex-Patriots each stand the Giants, Steelers as well as the Titans, constructed by Jon Robinson, who served as an area and regional scout for the Patriots for six years before being promoted to assistant director of college scouting in 2008 and holding the title of director of college scouting from 2009 through 2013. Four former Patriots draft picks are in this tier of teams with Halapio, Vereen, Ryan and Cassel.
- Cleveland Browns – Chris Barker, Josh Boyce, Charley Hughlett, Jamie Collins
- Carolina Panthers – Blaine Clausell, Garrett Gilbert, Kyle Love, Zach Moore
- New Orleans Saints – Travaris Cadet, Clay Harbor, Michael Hoomanawanui, Sterling Moore
- Baltimore Ravens – Kyle Arrington, Ryan Mallett, Ben Watson, Danny Woodhead
- Denver Broncos – AJ Derby, Quentin Gause, Steven Scheu, Aqib Talib
With joint practices prevalent between New England and New Orleans, so too are the recognizable faces. And while the most recent deal between Bill Belichick and Sean Payton’s clubs brought receiver Brandin Cooks to the Patriots in March, there’s still another lingering from a previous trade in Hoomanawanui. Denver, meanwhile, acquired Derby from New England in exchange for a fifth-round pick leading up to last October’s trade deadline. Cleveland followed by acquiring Collins for a compensatory third-rounder.
- Arizona Cardinals – Aaron Dobson, Chandler Jones, Jeremy Ross
- Detroit Lions – Keshawn Martin, Khyri Thornton, Tavon Wilson
- Philadelphia Eagles – LeGarrette Blount, Kamu Grugier-Hill, Chris Long
- Seattle Seahawks – Dewey McDonald, Tyler Ott, Bryce Williams
Former Patriots director of pro scouting Bob Quinn brought in a bevy of connections during his first season as Lions general manager. Since then, the number has whittled to three in Detroit. As for the others in this three-tie division, one was acquired from New England via trade in Arizona’s Jones. Philadelphia, meanwhile, has added a pair of veteran Patriots free agents – Long and Blount – over the last two months.
- Chicago Bears – Akiem Hicks, Cre’Von LeBlanc
- Dallas Cowboys – Jonathan Cooper, Clay DeBord
- Los Angeles Rams – Dominique Easley, Troy Hill
- Miami Dolphins – Ted Larsen, Trevor Reilly
- Minnesota Vikings – Michael Floyd, Bishop Sankey
- New York Jets – Anthony Johnson, Darryl Roberts
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Robert McClain, Sealver Siliga
Eight players in this two-man group – LeBlanc, Cooper, DeBord, Reilly, Floyd, Sankey, Johnson and Roberts – spent time in the Patriots’ locker room over the past year. And Floyd, a December waiver claim by way of Arizona, collected a ring from Super Bowl LI before signing with the Vikings last week.
- Atlanta Falcons – Joe Vellano
- Cincinnati Bengals – Brandon LaFell
- Green Bay Packers – Martellus Bennett
- Kansas City Chiefs – Jordan Devey
- Los Angeles Chargers – Asante Cleveland
- Oakland Raiders – Ian Silberman
- Washington Redskins – A.J. Francis
Seven teams presently hold one former Patriots player on their respective rosters. The newest and most notable of whom is Bennett, who caught 55 passes for 701 yards and seven touchdowns during his one and only season with New England before joining the Packers soon after free agency opened, penning a three-year, $21 million pact.
- Houston Texans – None
- Jacksonville Jaguars – None
Only two teams check in without a former Patriot. Houston being one of them is a bit of a surprise, given that the Texans’ coaching staff includes a cabinet of names from Patriots past in Bill O’Brien, Romeo Crennel, Mike Vrabel, Larry Izzo and Wes Welker. Yet Houston’s 2016 roster did feature a member of the Patriots’ 50th anniversary team, Vince Wilfork.
Perhaps another former Patriot will join in 2017. It is an ebb and flow.