The New England Patriots may not have made any trades at the NFL’s trade deadline, but they still made a transaction: according to ESPN’s Field Yates, the Patriots have placed cornerback Eric Rowe on injured reserve. The 26-year old, who is in his third season with the club, has been dealing with a groin injury for much of the year and has missed a total of four games because of the issue.
After the Patriots let Malcolm Butler go in free agency, the former Philadelphia Eagles second-round draft pick originally earned the number two cornerback spot opposite Stephon Gilmore over the summer. However, he hurt his groin in week two and has been limited to just 45 defensive snaps ever since. Considering this, Rowe moving to injured reserve does not drastically alter New England’s defensive backfield.
Jason McCourty will serve as the top perimeter option alongside Gilmore, with Jonathan Jones as the nickel cornerback in the slot. Second-round rookie Duke Dawson, who himself could get activated off injured reserve as early as next week, will likely serve as a rotational number three/four option alongside Jones. Fellow rookies J.C. Jackson and Keion Crossen are depth players at this point during the season.
Like Dawson, Rowe could theoretically return off injured reserve later during the season. However, this appears to be unlikely as running back Rex Burkhead seems to be the frontrunner to receive the second and final return designation. Consequently, Rowe’s season and potentially his tenure in New England – he is an unrestricted free agent next offseason – may have found its end today.
The move creates an open spot on the Patriots’ 53-man roster.