The New England Patriots currently have 89 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 New England’s offensive linemen.
Name: Ulrick John
Position: Offensive tackle
Jersey number: 67
Opening day age: 26
Size: 6’5, 310 lbs.
2017 review: After ending the 2016 season – his first with the Arizona Cardinals – on injured reserve because of a shoulder injury, Ulrick John was given another chance to show his value to the team. But despite playing 49.0% of offensive snaps (166 of 339) during the Cardinals’ five preseason contests, he was released as part of roster cutdowns. However, he quickly re-joined the team via its practice squad.
John spent the first three weeks of the regular season with Arizona, but was signed off the team’s practice squad in late September when the Green Bay Packers added him to their 53-man roster. The veteran saw irregular playing time in Green Bay: appearing in five games, John played only 40 offensive snaps – 32 of which came during the Packers’ week six loss against the Minnesota Vikings.
The backup offensive tackle also played 16 snaps in the kicking game, but his low total snap counts already shows that he failed to establish a role with the Packers. Consequently, it was no result that the team did not re-sign him when he hit free agency after the season.
2018 preview: Free agency started slowly for John, before the Patriots signed him to a one-year, $745,000 contract in late April. The deal put the journeyman in a position to compete for the vacant starting left tackle spot and finally find a permanent home after playing for four different teams during the first four years of his career. Almost four months into his tenure in New England, this outlook changed quite a bit.
After all, John does not appear to be in the running to fill Nate Solder’s shoes. Instead, the team primarily used him on the right side of the line and made him compete against LaAdrian Waddle for the backup spot behind Marcus Cannon. But even though the veteran played 50 snaps (of 72; 69%) during the Patriots’ preseason opener, he appears to be closer to the bottom of the depth chart than its top.
Consequently, it would not be a surprise if New England moved on from John during September’s roster cutdowns. However, the 26-year old has practice squad eligibility and if indeed released could still return to the Patriots. This could happen, but one has to wonder whether or not the team would prefer moving forward with a potentially higher-upside option than John.