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Examining the roster ties between Patriots, Panthers ahead of preseason Week 3

Six former Patriots reside in the Panthers’ fold heading into Friday night’s meeting.

NFL: Miami Dolphins at Carolina Panthers Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

The roster connections are a one-way street heading into Friday night’s preseason meeting at Bank of America Stadium.

The likes of running back Tyler Gaffney, wideout Brandon LaFell and cornerback Robert McClain are long since elsewhere, and not one ex-Carolina Panther resides on the New England Patriots’ current roster.

But when looking through the list of 90 in Carolina’s fold, there are some familiar names.

They range from a former Patriots draft pick, to a 25-game starter at defensive tackle, to past members of the practice squad whose stays in Foxborough spanned from three days to six months.

And here’s a glance leading up to the 7:30 p.m. ET kickoff.


Garrett Gilbert, quarterback – The 2009 Gatorade Male High School Athlete of the Year was taken in the sixth round of the 2014 draft by the then-St. Louis Rams. But by December of his rookie season, Gilbert had signed to New England’s practice squad, where he’d remain to earn a Super Bowl XLIX ring. The Texas and Southern Methodist product was waived in June 2015 as the corresponding move to the Patriots adding Matt Flynn. After stops with the Detroit Lions and Oakland Raiders, Gilbert joined the Panthers in March 2017 and spent the year between Carolina’s practice squad and active roster.

Taylor Heinicke, quarterback – Heinicke, who amassed a Division I-record 730 passing yards against the University of New Hampshire back in 2012 and finished his Old Dominion career with 154 total touchdowns, went undrafted in 2015. The Monarch would spent parts of the next three seasons with the Minnesota Vikings and signed onto the Patriots’ practice squad in September 2017. The Patriots, however, released Heinicke, along with offensive lineman Jason King, two weeks later. The Panthers claimed Heinicke off waivers from the Houston Texans in April.

Blaine Clausell, offensive tackle – The offensive tackle by way of Mississippi State and the Baltimore Ravens landed on New England’s initial practice squad of the 2015 season. And Clausell, an undrafted rookie at the time, stayed on the scout team until that November. Clausell rejoined the Ravens a day after his Patriots release, and he would later land on the the Washington Redskins’ active roster. He’s been part of five transactions in the Carolina organization since agreeing to terms in December 2016. Clausell was promoted to the Panthers’ 53 in January.

Kyle Love, defensive tackle – A member of New England’s undrafted class of 2010, Love would go on to appear in 41 games across three seasons with the Patriots. He started 25 to accrue 65 tackles and 5.5 sacks. And while surprise release in May 2013 – a move that transpired not long after the Mississippi State grad was diagnosed with Type-2 diabetes – Love has since found longevity in Carolina. His third team since leaving New England, the 31-year-old has played 41 games with the Panthers over the past three seasons, posting 51 tackles, eight sacks and a forced fumble.

Zach Moore, defensive end – In May 2014, the Patriots made Moore the first-ever NFL draft pick in Concordia-St. Paul history. The two-time Division II All-American and first combine invite in Golden Bears history, as well, Moore would play 96 snaps in eight games for the Patriots. The defensive end closed his rookie season three tackles, a half-sack and a forced fumble – plus a ring. New England would waive Moore after the 2015 preseason, and he’s been with four teams since then. The Panthers claimed the former sixth-rounder off waivers in May 2017. Moore resided between Carolina’s practice squad and 53-man roster last campaign.

Alex Carter, cornerback – As the aforementioned Heinicke exited from the Patriots’ practice squad last October, Carter entered. But the No. 80 overall pick in the 2015 draft would be released by New England three days after signing. Carter has also had two cups of coffeee with the Seattle Seahawks and one with the Chicago Bears over the past year. The 23-year-old via Stanford signed with the Panthers this past week.