The New England Patriots have had a relatively busy second half of the week: Not only did the team release 2017 third-round draft pick Antonio Garcia with a non-football injury designation, it also announced the signing of a total of 15 rookies – six of the team's nine draft picks are now officially under contract as are nine undrafted free agents.
With all those latest transactions and organized team activities starting on May 21, now is a good time to reset a Patriots' roster (unsigned draft picks denoted by *), that currently has no open spots on it:
Tom Brady, Brian Hoyer, Danny Etling
With Tom Brady the undisputed starter, the main question at quarterback for the upcoming months will be how many players the team will keep behind him. Could Brian Hoyer face a similar situation in 2018 as in 2011, when he was kept as the number two even with a rookie (Ryan Mallett back in the day) being brought into the fold?
Offensive backfield (8)
James White, Rex Burkhead, Sony Michel*, James Develin (FB), Mike Gillislee, Jeremy Hill, Brandon Bolden, Ralph Webb
James White, Rex Burkhead, James Develin and first-round rookie Sony Michel are all locks to make the 53-man roster. The four other backs currently on the roster will be fighting for a maximum of two spots, with Bolden a player to watch due to his ability to perform on special teams.
Wide receiver (13)
Julian Edelman, Chris Hogan, Phillip Dorsett, Malcolm Mitchell, Jordan Matthews, Cordarrelle Patterson, Kenny Britt, Matthew Slater, Braxton Berrios, Cody Hollister, Riley McCarron, Chris Lacy, Darren Andrews
Despite Brandin Cooks and Danny Amendola no longer being in New England, the Patriots' wide receiver position is among the most crowded ones on the team. While Julian Edelman and Chris Hogan are the top two options, the battle for the spots behind them will be one of the most competitive ones over the course of the summer. Realistically, four or five other wide receivers (including special teams captain Matthew Slater) will make the team.
Tight end (7)
Rob Gronkowski, Dwayne Allen, Jacob Hollister, Troy Niklas, Will Tye, Ryan Izzo, Shane Wimann
The Patriots added three tight ends this offseason but none of them is a safe bet to make the team. In fact, the only one who will surely be on the 53-man roster come opening day is the best in the game: Rob Gronkowski. Traditionally, New England carries a total of three or four tight ends on its roster.
Offensive tackle (8)
Isaiah Wynn* (OT/OG), Marcus Cannon, Trent Brown, LaAdrian Waddle, Cole Croston (OT/OG), Matt Tobin, Ulrick John, Andrew Jelks
With Nate Solder now a New York Giant, the left tackle spot is currently vacant. First-round pick Isaiah Wynn should be considered the favorite to start opposite of right tackle Marcus Cannon but veterans Trent Brown and LaAdrian Waddle are also competing for the top role. Ultimately, it should be expected to see the team carry four players at the position.
Interior offensive line (6)
Joe Thuney (OG), Shaq Mason (OG), David Andrews (OC), Ted Karras (OG/OC), Luke Bowanko (OG), James Ferentz (OC)
While Wynn is also able to play on the interior, guards Joe Thuney and Shaq Mason as well as center David Andrews still have to be considered the favorites to win the three starting spots. Ted Karras, who has been the top interior backup for the last two seasons, is the leading candidate to return in this role – but far from a lock to make the team.
Interior defensive line (7)
Malcom Brown, Danny Shelton, Lawrence Guy, Adam Butler, Vincent Valentine, Frank Herron, John Atkins
The Patriots added Danny Shelton via trade earlier this offseason, giving the team an additional body for the defensive tackle rotation. Together with Malcom Brown and Lawrence Guy, he is expected to form the core of a position depth chart that likely will hold no more than two additional players.
Defensive edge (8)
Trey Flowers, Adrian Clayborn, Deatrich Wise Jr., Derek Rivers, Eric Lee, Geneo Grissom, Keionta Davis, Trent Harris
New England signed Adrian Clayborn in free agency to add another experienced body to a young defensive edge group alongside Trey Flowers, Deatrich Wise Jr. and Derek Rivers. All four should be considered safe bets to ultimately make the team – giving the team a deeper rotation than it had last year.
Dont'a Hightower, Kyle Van Noy, Marquis Flowers, Elandon Roberts, Ja'Whaun Bentley, Christian Sam, Harvey Langi, Nicholas Grigsby
The Patriots selected two linebackers in the draft – Ja'Whaun Bentley and Christian Sam – to compete for the depth spots behind nominal starters Dont'a Hightower and Kyle Van Noy. It would not be a surprise to see both make the team considering that New England typically keeps six linebackers around.
Stephon Gilmore, Eric Rowe, Jason McCourty, Duke Dawson*, Cyrus Jones, Jonathan Jones, Keion Crossen, Ryan Lewis, Jomal Wiltz, J.C. Jackson, A.J. Moore
The cornerback position is similar to the Patriots' wide receiver spot: Despite losing starting material – Malcolm Butler left via free agency – the team is deep. Stephon Gilmore, Eric Rowe and Jason McCourty are the current top-three with second-round pick Duke Dawson another lock to make the team. The other seven cornerbacks are likely competing for a maximum of two spots.
Devin McCourty, Patrick Chung, Duron Harmon, Jordan Richards, Brandon King, Nate Ebner, Damarius Travis, David Jones
One of the few positions the Patriots did not address this offseason, New England will enter the summer with the same group of safeties it employed last year. Devin McCourty, Patrick Chung and Duron Harmon are the starting options with Jordan Richards the number four and Brandon King and Nate Ebner providing depth as core special teamers. The main question is whether or not one of the 2017 practice squad safeties – Damarius Travis and David Jones – will be able to push Richards off the roster.
Stephen Gostkowski (K), Ryan Allen (P), Joe Cardona (LS)
New England invited two undrafted punters to rookie minicamp but unless one of them gets signed to compete against incumbent Ryan Allen, it looks highly likely that New England will enter the season with the same group of specialists it has used for the last three years.