The New England Patriots have reduced their active roster from 81 to 53 players yesterday. Throughout the day, the defending world champions have released players and made trades and formed their initial 53-man roster as a result. When recapping the action, a few names stand out – those who have won the day, and those who have lost.
Winner: WR Phillip Dorsett
The Indianapolis Colts are by no means a bad team. However, being traded to New England for third-string quarterback Jacoby Brissett certainly is a great move for Phillip Dorsett, who now joins the most talented offense he has ever been around – one that will use him according to his strengths and weaknesses. Furthermore, he might also serve as a punt returner for the Patriots. In short: Dorsett can prove that he was worth a first round draft pick in 2015 - just not with the Colts.
Winner: TE Jacob Hollister
Entering training camp, four tight ends were fighting to back up Rob Gronkowski and Dwayne Allen. The one to come away victoriously is an undrafted rookie in Wyoming product Jacob Hollister. The 24-year old was a preseason standout and finished with 12 catches for 146 yards and a touchdown. Most importantly, he was able to show that he can successfully play in the NFL. Him surviving yesterday's cutdowns is further proof of that.
Losers: CBs Kenny Moore II, D.J. Killings, Will Likely
On early Saturday, the Patriots traded for Detroit Lions cornerback Johnson Bademosi. The move, which added experience and depth at the position, was bad news for the team's three undrafted rookie cornerbacks. And despite some solid preseason performances, Kenny Moore II, D.J. Killings and Will Likely all became expendable due to the addition of Bademosi. All three, however, are candidates to return to New England via the practice squad.
Loser: WR Austin Carr
The same can be said about Austin Carr. And as is the case with Moore, Killings and Likely, Carr's prospects of making the team were also pretty much eliminated due to a trade New England has made: The acquisition of Phillip Dorsett all but sealed the undrafted rookie's fate. Even though he led the team in receptions, yards and touchdowns during the preseason and was seen as one of the beneficiaries of Julian Edelman's season-ending injury, Carr has been let go yesterday.
Winner: OG Cole Croston
The Iowa product was seen as a project when signed as a free agent following the draft. After all, he struggled with injury and inconsistency in 2016 and changed positions in the pros. However, Croston fared surprisingly well. His performance was good, in fact, that New England decided to keep him on board as the lone interior offensive line backup – a surprise considering whose spot he has taken.
Loser: OG Ted Karras
Possibly the biggest surprise of cutdown day other than the trades was the release of Ted Karras. Just like last season, the versatile interior lineman appeared to have the top backup spot locked up. However, undrafted rookie Cole Croston was able to beat him out and in turn made Karras expendable – at least for now.
Winner: DE Adam Butler
Just like fellow undrafted rookie Cole Croston, Butler brings upside and versatility to the table – traits that helped him make a defensive edge depth chart in flux following Derek Rivers' season-ending injury and the release of Kony Ealy. And even though Butler is projected to be the third member of the positional rotation after Deatrich Wise Jr. and Cassius Marsh, him surviving roster cuts reflects how well he has played and how the team views his development.
Winner: LB Harvey Langi
Seeing Langi make the team was not that big of a surprise. After all, the Brigham Young product saw plenty of practice reps with the top defensive unit from the first day of training camp on. Still, every time an undrafted rookie survives roster cutdowns, he can be considered a winner – even though it was a long time in the making.
Loser: The Patriots' draft class
In April, New England drafted four players. In September, only one has been able to make the team, defensive edge Deatrich Wise Jr. The rest of the Patriots' draft class is not on the active roster due to injury (defensive edge Derek Rivers), illness (offensive tackle Antonio Garcia) or performance issues (offensive tackle Conor McDermott). All in all, a disappointing development.
Winner: SS Jordan Richards
Coming off a disappointing 2016 season, the former second round draft pick was fighting for his roster life this summer. And even though he did not necessarily stand out, Jordan Richards was able to beat out his competition to again make the 53-man roster. His standing, however, does not appear to be set in stone.
The winners and losers, however, are not set in stone. After all, an NFL roster is never complete and just because bubble players like Jordan Richards have made it through the initial cuts does not mean they will survive waiver claims or additional tweaks. In short: It remains exciting as we're heading into the first week of the NFL season.