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Examining the roster ties between Patriots, Cardinals ahead of Week 12

The list of ex-Patriots and ex-Cardinals set to revisit Sunday at Gillette Stadium.

Arizona Cardinals v New York Giants Photo by Steven Ryan/Getty Images

Head coach Kliff Kingsbury arrived in the sixth round of the 2003 NFL draft. As a free agent in the spring of 2013, so did director of pro scouting Adrian Wilson.

But the list of past New England Patriots with the Arizona Cardinals can also be seen on the active roster, practice squad and reserve list.

Four players in Arizona’s fold were once in New England’s. Five players in New England’s fold were once in Arizona’s.

Here’s a look through those ties heading into the 1 p.m. ET kickoff Sunday at Gillette Stadium.

ARIZONA

D.J. Foster, running back – The Arizona State product fielded calls from both the Patriots and Cardinals as the picks ticked down in the 2016 draft. And Foster chose the former as a priority free agent. He went on to secure a 53-man spot out of training camp with New England, handling seven carries, one reception and a kickoff return during his rookie regular season. Foster would have week-long stint on the practice squad before being promoted back to the active roster that winter. A Super Bowl LI ring followed. Foster began 2017 on the scout team and signed to the Cardinals’ roster soon after. The 26-year-old has remained since then. A frequent standard elevation this campaign, Foster stands with 161 yards of offense and 184 yards on special teams during his tenure.

Angelo Blackson, defensive tackle – Originally selected at No. 100 overall in the 2015 draft, Blackson found himself on the New England scout team to begin his third NFL season. His stay came to a close by November as the Auburn alum agreed to join the Houston Texans’ active roster. Blackson made his way to Arizona after his release from Houston this September. The 28-year-old defensive lineman has appeared in every Cards game and started three, logging 15 tackles and two sacks.

Chandler Jones, linebacker – Jones, now 30, suffered a torn biceps five starts into the year and resides on injured reserve. But the three-time Pro Bowler, two-time All-Pro and reigning NFL All-Decade member stands 97 sacks into a run that began in New England. The war room filled out the Syracuse defensive end’s card at No. 21 overall in the 2012 draft. And with his option year remaining, Jones would be traded to the Cardinals in exchange for guard Jonathan Cooper and a 2016 second-rounder that gave way to North Carolina State blocker Joe Thuney and Georgia target Malcolm Mitchell.

Mike Nugent, kicker – In the October days after Patriots all-time scoring leader Stephen Gostkowski went on injured reserve, Nugent signed on. The veteran kicker from Ohio State proceeded to kick in four games for the organization during the 2019 season, going 5-of-8 on field goals and 15-of-16 on extra points before his release. The Cardinals signed Nugent to the practice squad in September. It marked a return to the Tempe training facility for the 38-year-old, who had been an injury replacement for incumbent Neil Rackers late in the 2009 campaign.

NEW ENGLAND

Brian Hoyer, quarterback – The third stop on Hoyer’s NFL itinerary would be Arizona. The Cardinals claimed ex-Patriots UDFA off waivers from the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2012. Hoyer checked into two games and made his first career start that season, completing 30-of-53 passes for 330 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions before his release. More transactions have been in the cards since then for the 35-year-old via Michigan State. Hoyer re-signed with the Patriots in March and started his 39th game in October.

Damiere Byrd, wide receiver – Byrd had 12 receptions from quarterback Cam Newton on his résumé prior to signing with Arizona last year. The sudden wideout by way of the South Carolina Gamecocks and Carolina Panthers went on reel in 32 receptions for 359 yards and one touchdown from quarterback Kyler Murray. And as the new league year opened, New England signed Byrd to a pact carrying $600,000 in guarantees. He has caught 32 passes for 469 yards and one touchdown since then. And in his eighth start last Sunday, Byrd, 27, eclipsed the century mark in receiving for the first time in his career.

Jordan Thomas, tight end – The Patriots claimed Thomas off waivers from the Cardinals midway through November. The 24-year-old tight end from Mississippi State made his debut for New England last Sunday against a Houston team that drafted him in the sixth round back in 2018. And now, Thomas is scheduled to circle back to the Arizona team he spent all of September and October with. Thomas appeared in four games for the Cardinals this season, catching one pass for a touchdown while going between the practice squad and active roster.

Korey Cunningham, offensive tackle – New England acquired Cunningham from Arizona in exchange for a sixth-rounder last August as rosters whittled from 90. The bookend out of Cincinnati had been selected by the Cardinals at No. 254 overall in the 2018 draft, and started all six of his contests as a rookie before going on IR. Cunningham played in one game for the Patriots in 2019. The 25-year-old has appeared in an additional handful as a reserve thus far into 2020.

Justin Bethel, cornerback – Bethel went from Presbyterian to the Cardinals in the sixth round of the 2012 draft. And while in Arizona, the defensive back established himself as one of the NFL’s premier gunners. Bethel accumulated three Pro Bowls and two first-team All-Pros on special teams for the Cardinals. He played in every game across six seasons before joining the Atlanta Falcons and then the Baltimore Ravens. New England signed Bethel at the midway point in 2019. The 30-year-old is tied with captain Matthew Slater atop the kicking game in downs played.