The New England Patriots currently have 90 players on their active roster. However, only 53 of them will be able to survive the cutdowns on September 1 and ultimately make the team. Over the course of the offseason, we take a look at the players fighting for those spots to find out who has the best chances of helping the Patriots recapture the Vince Lombardi Trophy.
Today, the series continues with one of the newest Patriots.
Name: Eddie Pleasant
Position: Strong safety / special teamer
Jersey number: 26
Opening day age: 29
Size: 5’10, 210 lbs.
2017 review: Like he did during his first five years with the Houston Texans, Eddie Pleasant again saw regular playing time on both defense and special teams in 2017 – and the veteran again was a productive member of his squad. All in all, the former undrafted rookie appeared in all of the 4-12 Texans’ games and as a rotational strong safety played 26.9% of Houston’s defensive snaps (306 of 1,023).
In this role, Pleasant had solid production: He registered 27 tackles, most of which against the pass, and also notched a pair each of sacks and quarterback hits. Furthermore, the Oregon product registered an interception, three pass breakups, and a forced fumble. While the numbers do not stand out when compared to other members of the Texans’ 32nd-ranked defense, they are solid for a role player.
Pleasant, who was ranked as the 47th best safety last season by advanced analytics website Pro Football Focus, saw most of his action away from defense: he was a core player of Houston’s kicking game units. Overall, he was on the field for 49.8% of the Texans’ special teams snaps (245 of 492) and registered five combined tackles as a gunner. He also served as a blocker on punt and kickoff returns.
Given his success in 2017, Pleasant set himself up well entering unrestricted free agency. But not only did Houston pass on bringing him back, other teams also were hesitant to invest in the veteran.
2018 preview: Despite only joining the Patriots earlier this week and him creating little interest on the open market before that, Pleasant’s chances of making the team actually do not appear to be as bad as might be expected. The reason for that is the current composition of New England’s safety corps: the team has an open competition for the fourth spot behind top trio Devin McCourty, Patrick Chung, and Duron Harmon.
Pleasant is part of that competition and will primarily go up against 2017’s number four safety, Jordan Richards. The incumbent had an underwhelming defensive campaign last season, and if he fails to properly bounce back could very well lose his job to the cheaper veteran acquisition. But if Pleasant does not adapt quickly to live in New England and catches up with the rest of the players, his tenure with the Patriots could be a short one.
No matter the ultimate result, adding Pleasant will at least put more pressure on Richards to perform. And if the newest Patriots defensive back can build on his 2017 campaign on both defense and special teams, he might even be able to push the former second-round draft pick off the roster.