I believe that the New England Patriots have just one roster spot up for grabs by the best player of any position. If that happens to be a seventh linebacker or a fourth tight end or a fifth offensive tackle- so be it. All other roster spots are claimed by the simple roster calculus and construction that Bill Belichick generally follows.
Players with big bonuses are usually locks, as are early-round rookies. Much of the roster is formed by proven veterans that would be surprises to see them on the cutting room floor.
But there are many young players potentially deserving of roster spots, including RB D.J. Foster, WR Austin Carr, TE Jacob Hollister, and EDGE Harvey Langi. Those players might have to stay on the final roster because they might not make it to the Patriots practice squad.
When looking at potential ways for the Patriots to keep, there are a few options. The Patriots could trade a veteran like RB Dion Lewis and open up a roster spot. Another player could suffer an injury and miss the season.
There is one player that remains a topic of conversation that could theoretically be released in order to make an extra roster spot and that’s second-year QB Jacoby Brissett.
Brissett was a third round selection out of the North Carolina State and he started two games for the Patriots as a rookie. He suffered a serious injury on his throwing hand and missed time, but the coaching staff activated him late in the year to keep him available to learn during practices and always lauded his toughness and leadership.
It would certainly be a surprise if the Patriots let him go, but it wouldn’t be without precedence under head coach Bill Belichick.
2015 third round pick EDGE Geneo Grissom was released after one season and sent to the practice squad before receiving a promotion back to the active roster in October. 2009 third round LB Tyrone McKenzie tore his ACL during rookie minicamp and was released the next year and spent half a year on the practice squad before he was cut. 2008 third round QB Kevin O’Connell was released after just one season in favor of undrafted rookie Brian Hoyer. 2001 third round DB Brock Williams tore his ACL as a rookie and was sent to the practice squad to start his sophomore season.
In other words, Brissett wouldn’t be the first third rounder to last just one season on the Patriots active roster.
Do you think Jacoby Brissett’s roster spot is in jeopardy?
This poll is closed
Brissett is clearly far behind fellow back-up Jimmy Garoppolo and sailed too many passes in his first preseason game of 2017. If Brissett doesn’t show improvement over the coming weeks, then there likely will be more calls to free up the roster spot for a more promising player.
I asked the Pats Pulpit whether or not they believed Brissett’s spot on the team to be in any risk. Here’s what they said.
“Yes, Brissett is a [Bill] Parcell's guy who won a regular season game last year. He's got his issues and might not be anything in the league, but he's bought himself another year. Also with the QB needs around the league (looking at Baltimore where he could be a good system fit) his chances of making it through waivers and onto the PS [practice squad] are much less than someone they might choose to keep over him.”
“I think he will make it, yes. I think he has shown enough in limited action that he has quite a bit of room to grow. And like Ryan said, it's highly unlikely that he would pass through waivers to put on the practice squad. He seems more of a guy who could develop into the back-up for 2018 if Garoppolo isn't back.”
“I say he makes the roster. With Tom [Brady]'s age, the team has made it clear that they are going to be prepared for anything. 3rd stringers are, of course, always a play away from being the backup, and that's possibility is made all the more realistic with a 40+ year old starter.”
“Wait, we're talking about Brissett potentially not making roster cuts less than a year after Jimmy G went out with a separated shoulder and we were one big hit away from Julian Edelman playing quarterback? The position is just too important. Josh McDaniels and the rest of the coaching staff already know that they can game-plan with Jacoby and win. And let's not forget that the Pats thought it was super important last year for Brissett to travel with the team even though he was on Injured Reserve recovering from his thumb injury for two months. You don't have a guy that's even in the same zip code as other roster cuts do that.
“I get how exciting it is to give a roster spot to Austin Carr or whoever our preseason crush this year is, but at the risk of ending up on Old Takes Exposed, there's no way New England cuts Brissett at the game's most valuable position. Especially when the team's paying him a fraction of what most of the running backs on the team are making. Running backs!”
“The Patriots know the importance of the quarterback position and how insufficient depth there might ultimately hurt you big time (see: Indianapolis Colts, 2011). Only one year ago, the team witnessed this first-hand when Jacoby Brissett was suddenly thrust into a starting role. Of course, circumstances have changed but with Tom Brady another year older and Jimmy Garoppolo only one year away from free agency, the Patriots will probably hold onto their third stringer - at least for now.”
“In other years, I might actually be tempted to list Brissett as a potential cut candidate; Garoppolo is one of the best backups in the NFL, and those last few roster spots are going to be at a premium. But given the relative dearth of viable starting QBs in the NFL in 2017, I don’t think that Brissett would make it through waivers for a practice squad stash.
“Furthermore, seeing as how this year cuts aren't done gradually, but all at once at the end of preseason, there's likely to be much more of a scramble for players once half of the league suddenly finds itself unemployed. While that ensuing madness might cause Brissett to go unnoticed, it's more likely that he'll be among the players who immediately rise to the top as having value. Jacoby Brissett is much more likely to fall victim to the Foxboro Flu than he is to be straight up cut.”
“With quarterbacks endlessly pursued the way they are, a third-rounder entering his second season is not going to slip through waivers - and it would never come down to that between the Patriots and Brissett in 2017 anyway. Sure, Kevin O'Connell was drafted in the third round in 2008 and was gone by the following September after throwing six regular-season passes. And sure, there was Ryan Mallett, a third-round choice in 2011 who completed one throw over the course of three-plus years with the Patriots.
“But Brissett has already covered far more ground. He's far ahead of where he was expected to be. He's been asked to do more. And it's important to evaluate his second-half preseason reps for what they are. Brissett isn't Garoppolo, but he is a 24-year-old with the arm, the mobility, the work ethic and the maturity. That's worth being patient with, and certainly worth a 53-man roster spot.”
“The Pats kept 4 once, they've kept 3 in the past - 2011 was the most recent year (Brady-Hoyer-Mallett), not so outrageous they do it again. Plus, the unstable QB situation is a good enough reason on its own to keep him. It keeps their options open to trade either backup (not Brady) next offseason.”
In a unanimous decision, the Pats Pulpit decision believes that Brissett will remain on the team for 2017. I’m with the rest of the staff. I think Brissett is going to make the team because, as so many mentioned, keeping him around grants the Patriots more flexibility next offseason when we do the same song-and-dance around whether or not Garoppolo will be traded.
In the event that Garoppolo lands with another team, the Patriots would rather have a back-up quarterback in his third season with the team than forced to scramble and find a new back-up.
What do you think?