The New England Patriots had a busy day yesterday: not only did they return to practice after a three-day absence, the team also made a minor change to their roster by re-signing offensive tackle Cole Croston and waiving cornerback D’Angelo Ross with an injury designation. On top of it all, the Patriots also acquired tight end Eric Saubert from the Atlanta Falcons in exchange for a conditional seventh-round draft pick.
In order to get Saubert on board, the Patriots needed to make an additional roster move — and they did so today: according to ESPN’s Field Yates, the team has waived fourth-string quarterback and part-time wide receiver Danny Etling. The second-year man had virtually no chance of making the roster with three other passers ahead of him on the depth chart and the position change going anything but smoothly.
Etling originally joined the Patriots with the 219th overall selection in the 2018 NFL draft. The seventh-round pick was in a tough spot from the get-go as he entered an experienced position depth chart headed by undisputed starter Tom Brady and seasoned backup Brian Hoyer. Etling had to fight for his roster life all summer long — a fight that ultimately proved to be an unsuccessful one for the Louisiana State product.
Before his release during New England’s roster-cutdowns, Etling failed to challenge Hoyer’s standing as the top backup behind Brady, or show the team he is worth being kept around on the active team as a third quarterback. His standing on the roster became clear during the preseason: the rookie played only 19 snaps over the Patriots’s first three games, before going wire-to-wire in the comparatively meaningless preseason finale.
When on the field — mostly going against third/fourth-string competition — Etling proved himself serviceable at best, but little more. All in all, he completed 20 of his 38 preseason passing attempts, for 178 yards and one touchdown while also throwing a pair of interceptions. Nevertheless, he delivered one of New England’s preseason highlights when he scored on an 86-yard rushing touchdown in the fourth of the exhibition contests.
Etling’s position did not improve this offseason, quite the opposite: when the Patriots drafted Jarrett Stidham in the fourth round, his fate was effectively sealed. While he could still return at a later point, it seems that the 25-year-old’s future in New England is limited.