With opening day still more than two months away and the mandatory portion of the initial wave of offseason workouts over, we have entered the more quiet parts of the NFL offseason. However, while the football world seemingly turns slower these days it does not stop.
During workouts and studying sessions, players still have a chance to lay the foundation for their spots on the team. Over the course of the next few months, we will take a look at the men fighting for them on the 2017 New England Patriots. 53 of currently 90 players will be asked to help the team defend its Super Bowl title.
Today, we will continue the series with a backup offensive lineman.
Name: James Ferentz
Jersey number: 59
Opening day age: 28
Size: 6’2, 285 lbs.
2016 review: James Ferentz’s second season with the Denver Broncos, with whom he won the Super Bowl in 2015, looked just like his first one: The former undrafted rookie served as a backup on the interior offensive line and as a result saw only marginal playing time over the course of the season.
Despite being on the Broncos’ 53-man roster throughout the year, Ferentz was only active for eight of the team’s 16 games. During those games, he played a mere four snaps on offense and added eight in the kicking game. He did see considerable playing time during the preseason, though – at least offensively.
While he played only four snaps on special teams over the course of Denver’s first two preseason contests (he was inactive in weeks three and four) Ferentz played a combined 123 offensive snaps as the second man up at the center spot. His preseason exposure did help him to make the team but did not translate into considerable playing time.
2017 preview: Following the 2016 season, the Broncos extended an offer sheet to exclusive rights free agent James Ferentz. He signed it on April 10 but was released exactly one month later. Ferentz did not remain unemployed for long though: The Patriots signed the son of Bill Belichick confidante Kirk Ferentz to a one-year deal a week after his release.
The younger Ferentz will therefore have a chance to compete for a spot on New England’s 53-man roster over the next two months. And while the starting center spot is in the safe hands of David Andrews, the backup spot appears to be less settled. Second-year man Ted Karras has served as the top interior line backup last year so he is the man to beat for Ferentz to find his way on the team.
If he does that, the 28-year old will likely once again see only marginal playing time as a backup center and part-time special teamer. However, if Karras or another interior player is able to solidify himself as the number two behind Andrews, Ferentz would become expendable. Given his first three years in the NFL, the latter scenario appears to be more likely.