While the New England Patriots’ 53-man roster appears set heading into the NFL’s opening week, the team is still looking around the league for potential reinforcements. Therefore, as first reported by the Houston Chronicle’s Aaron Wilson, the world champions brought seven current free agents in for workouts on Tuesday. Don’t expect any of them to get signed to the 53-man roster anytime soon, though — they are either practice squad candidates or emergency options.
With that out of the way, let’s take a look at the men in question:
CB Chris Campbell
Originally starting his NFL career as a sixth-round draft pick by the Arizona Cardinals in 2018, Chris Campbell spent most of his rookie year on the New Orleans Saints’ practice squad. He was signed to a futures contract after the season before getting placed on and released off injured reserve in August. Following a brief stint with the San Francisco 49ers, the 6-foot-1 cornerback — one that still needs to refine his technique and play recognition — entered the open market again on cutdown weekend.
CB Tevaughn Campbell
Tevaughn Campbell spent the first four seasons of his NFL career in the Canadian Football League before the New York Jets signed him to a futures deal in February. The 26-year-old went on to appear in all four of the club’s preseason games — primarily as a perimeter cornerback and special teamer — and was serviceable but uninspiring. Consequently, he was let go by the Jets again on cutdown weekend. While Campbell has decent size at 6-foot-0, 195 pounds and experience, he lacks a convincing track record at the NFL level.
SS Su’a Cravens
The biggest name on the list, Su’a Cravens entered the NFL as a second-round draft pick by the Washington Redskins in 2016. Over his first three years in the league, however, he appeared in only sixteen games: he played eleven games during his rookie season as a rotational nickel defensive back, and missed all of 2017 after previously announcing his retirement. Cravens eventually returned but was traded to the Denver Broncos in 2018. He started the season on injured reserve, before playing five games as a strong safety. The Broncos parted ways with him this past weekend.
CB Lenzy Pipkins
A journeyman defender, Lenzy Pipkins has been in the league since 2017 but already played on four different teams. However, the former undrafted free agent failed to carve out a consistent role on any of them: while he did play twelve games for the Green Bay Packers during his rookie season, he appeared in only three other contests since. Ultimately, he lacks upside and outstanding athletic traits but may be suited for a backup/special teams role.
CB KeiVarae Russell
Despite getting selected in the third round in 2016, the Kansas City Chiefs released KeiVarae Russell after his first training camp with the club. The Notre Dame product went on to join the Cincinnati Bengals with whom he spent all of the last three seasons: moving between the practice squad and the active roster, he appeared in a combined twenty games for the club as a depth cornerback and rotational special teamer.
CB Arrion Springs
After going undrafted in 2018, Arrion Springs initially signed with the Kansas City Chiefs before starting to bounce around the league after his release. Despite spending time with four other teams over the last year, the Oregon product has yet to appear in an actual game and prove that he can be an NFL cornerback — all despite entering the draft as a highly rated player by Pro Football Focus and by Inside the Pylon.
TE Jason Vander Laan
New England’s shortage at tight end in the post-Rob Gronkowski era is well documented, but Jason Vander Laan should hardly be seen as a potential upgrade at this point. After all, the 6-foot-4, 245-pounder has yet to find a consistent role at the pro level: after converting from quarterback to tight end upon joining the NFL as an undrafted rookie signing by the New York Jets in 2016, he appeared in only four games (all with the Indianapolis Colts in 2017) and saw the vast majority of his action in the kicking game.