The New England Patriots, who will be off until training camp starts later this month, currently have 89 players on their active roster. However, only 53 of them will be able to survive the cutdowns on August 31 and ultimately make the team. Over the course of the summer, we will take a look at the players fighting for those spots to find out who has the best chances of helping the Patriots defend their Super Bowl title.
Today, the series continues with one of New England’s depth linebackers.
Name: Calvin Munson
Jersey number: 48
Opening day age: 24
Size: 6’0, 245 lbs.
2018 review: While Calvin Munson showed plenty of promise during his 2017 rookie campaign — he appeared in fourteen of the New York Giants’ sixteen games — the former undrafted free agent failed to take the second-year jump the following season. His performance over the summer already showed that, as he failed to carve out a regular role on New York’s defense and saw most of his action in the kicking game.
During the preseason, Munson appeared in three of the Giants’ four games and was on the field for only 22.3% of his team’s defensive snaps (61 of 273) as well as 38.1% on special teams (43 of 113). While he did register 13 tackles — second most on the team — he was inconsistent as a tackler and pass rusher. Munson also had his fair share of ups and downs in coverage: he dropped back on 30 of his defensive snaps and surrendered 6 catches on 6 targets for 32 yards and a touchdown.
As a result of his uneven offseason performance, the San Diego State product was let go by the Giants during roster cutdowns. He remained out of work for only a day, though, before the team brought him back into the fold through its practice squad. However, Munson lasted only two weeks on New York’s scout team before being let go once more. One month later, he found a new home when the Patriots signed him to their own practice squad.
Munson was unable to make the jump onto New England’s active roster in 2018, but he did regularly perform well in practice: the team named him as one of its practice players of the week on five different occasions. As a result of this, he was re-signed to a reserve/futures contract following the Patriots’ victory in Super Bowl 53.
2019 preview: Munson is in an unfavorable position heading into 2019’s training camp: the Patriots have considerable depth and talent ahead of him on its linebacker group, and it seems unlikely that the 24-year-old will be able to crack the regular rotation. After all, three players are already locks to make the team in Dont’a Hightower, Kyle Van Noy and Ja’Whaun Bentley. Offseason pickup Jamie Collins also appears to have very good odds.
This leaves a projected maximum of one open spot, and veteran Elandon Roberts needs to be seen as the favorite to earn it. Munson, meanwhile, will compete with Christian Sam and Terez Hall to challenge Roberts — the task at hand is a difficult one, however, given the experience of Roberts and the potential of Sam and Hall. Consequently, Munson’s best bet to make the team seems to be the kicking game.
The question is if he has enough upside to warrant a spot on the roster simply based on his special teams abilities. The answer to that will probably be ‘no,’ which in turn means that Munson probably again has to eye the practice squad as his best chance to make the Patriots’ payroll. If he performs in training camp and the preseason like he did during practice last year, his chances of earning one of the ten spots should be solid.