Most of those playing in preseason finales will be part of transactions before 4 p.m. ET Saturday.
Though for now, the New England Patriots and New York Giants enter with rosters of 90.
And there’s some familiar names on both. Five current Giants were once Patriots. Three current Patriots, meanwhile, were once Giants.
Don’t expect to see them all Thursday night. But here’s a glance through the connections leading up to the 7:00 p.m. ET kickoff at MetLife Stadium.
Nate Solder, offensive tackle – Drafted No. 17 overall out of Colorado in 2011, Solder went on to start 95 of the 98 games he appeared in for the Patriots over the course of seven regular seasons. He earned a pair of Super Bowl rings, as well as the Ron Burton Community Service Award, along the way before leaving in free agency this March. The 30-year-old Solder signed a four-year, $62 million contract with the Giants that made him the highest-paid offensive lineman in the NFL at the time. “The Giants got a great player,” Patriots quarterback Tom Brady said on WEEI’s Jimmy Fund Radio-Telethon last week. “He’s really flourishing, and I know he’s going to have just a great career there, just like he had a great career for us.”
Jon Halapio, center – Halapio’s first stint in Foxborough ended two days after he played in the final preseason game – against the Giants, no less. The 2014 sixth-round guard out of Florida was waived by New England at the cut to 53, and a circuitous journey would follow. Stops with the FXFL’s Boston Brawlers and Brooklyn Bolts would be made – as would a job selling used cars. Halapio would go on to be rostered by the Arizona Cardinals, Denver Broncos and once again the Patriots, with whom he spent another training camp in 2016. Things have changed since then. Halapio has earned the Giants’ starting job at center.
A.J. Francis, defensive tackle – The Patriots claimed Francis off waivers from the Miami Dolphins as 53-man rosters began to form in September 2013. Yet after seven days in New England’s active fold, the undrafted defensive tackle was waived and retained on the practice squad. The Dolphins ultimately added Francis to their active roster off the Patriots’ scout team that November. The 28-year-old has since been a member of the Seattle Seahawks, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Washington Redskins, appearing in nine games and registering 20 tackles. Francis joined the Giants this May.
Robert Thomas, defensive tackle – Thomas resided on the Patriots’ practice squad for two-plus weeks in November 2015, before the Dolphins signed the rookie out of Arkansas to their 53. After a stint with the Carolina Panthers, the Giants claimed Thomas off waivers in September 2016. The 6-foot-1, 316-pound nose tackle has played in 23 games for New York over the past two campaigns, collecting 21 tackles and one sack.
Leonard Johnson, cornerback – New England signed Johnson in December 2015 amid attrition on the cornerback depth chart. And in his Patriots debut, the ex-Buccaneer broke up a pair of passes while also breaking his way into GIF form for the celebrations that followed. New England released Johnson two months later after four appearances, 11 tackles and three deflections. He was with Carolina in 2016 and returned to the AFC East with the Buffalo Bills in 2017. The Giants signed Johnson a week into training camp this August.
Chris Hogan, wide receiver – New York signed the wideout by way of Penn State lacrosse, Monmouth football and the San Francisco 49ers to the practice squad in September 2011. But Hogan’s tenure with the Giants spanned 11 days. Parts of two years with the Dolphins were next up, then three years with the Bills before New England signed the restricted free agent to a three-year, $12 million offer sheet. Hogan has caught 72 passes through two regular with the Patriots, for 1,119 yards and nine touchdowns. His top performances have arrived in the postseason, with 180 yards and two touchdowns in the January 2017 AFC title game, and 128 yards and a touchdown in Super Bowl LII.
K.J. Maye, wide receiver – Maye originally entered the league as a Giants undrafted free agent in the spring of 2016. The Minnesota Golden Gopher was waived following his rookie summer, and ventured to the Tennessee Titans and Edmonton Eskimos before signing with the Patriots last July. Maye, who was let go at the 2017 cutdown after a preseason that included 10 receptions and one TD, re-signed with New England on Monday.
Will Tye, tight end – Tye signed with the Giants as an undrafted rookie hailing from Stony Brook and Florida State in the spring of 2015. And over his two years in East Rutherford, the 6-foot-2, 260-pound tight end reeled in 90 passes for 859 yards and four touchdowns. The New York Jets claimed Tye off waivers last September, and he caught four passes for 38 yards before being waived again and later signing to New England’s practice squad, where he finished the season. Re-upped on a futures contract, Tye has posted three receptions for 17 yards for the Patriots this preseason.