Update 5/7/2020: Patriots reportedly reach rookie contracts with five members of their 2020 NFL draft class
After earlier reports that the New England Patriots had signed two members of their draft class — third-round linebacker Anfernee Jennings and seventh-round center Dustin Woodard — three more joined them: according to ESPN Boston’s Mike Reiss, the Patriots also reached the standard four-year rookie deals with kicker Justin Rohrwasser, offensive lineman Justin Herron and linebacker Cassh Maluia.
5-159 K Justin Rohrwasser: New England entered the draft without a place kicker on its roster after the release of Stephen Gostkowski, so seeing the team address the position on Day Three did not come as a surprise. What may have been surprising is that Marshall’s Justin Rohrwasser was the choice over other options with supposedly higher profiles. That said, Rohrwasser offers a strong leg and is coming off the best season of his college career.
6-195 G Justin Herron: Herron will likely have to adapt to playing on the offensive interior after serving as Wake Forest’s starting left tackle throughout his four-year college career. Due to his quickness, however, the sixth-rounder does project more favorably as a guard and will compete for a reserve spot behind projected starting options Joe Thuney and Shaq Mason.
6-204 LB Cassh Maluia: If Josh Uche and Anfernee Jennings will help the Patriots replace what Kyle Van Noy and Jamie Collins brought to the table, Cassh Maluia could fill the void created by the departure of Elandon Roberts. While slightly undersized by New England’s standards at the position — he was measured at 248 pounds at the combine but only 6-foot-0 — the Wyoming product has proven himself a capable downfield attacker.
While six drafted players are now under contract, only four of the signings — Josh Uche, Justin Rohrwasser, Justin Herron, Cassh Maluia — actually made the league’s transaction wire today. Once the other (Jennings, Woodard) join them, only four members of New England’s draft class remain unaccounted for: safety Kyle Dugger, tight ends Devin Asiasi and Dalton Keene, and guard Michael Onwenu.
Original story 5/7/2020: Patriots reportedly sign draft picks Anfernee Jennings, Dustin Woodard to their rookie contracts
As the NFL awaits the release of the 2020 schedule, the New England Patriots are busy further locking up the members of their draft class. After already signing second-round pick Josh Uche to a four-year contract on Wednesday, the team has reportedly added two more players to the fold earlier today: as first reported by Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle, the Patriots agreed to rookie contracts with Anfernee Jennings and Dustin Woodard.
3-87 LB Anfernee Jennings: With Kyle Van Noy and Jamie Collins both leaving New England in free agency, the Patriots opted to double-dip at the position: after already adding Uche in the second round, they picked Alabama’s Anfernee Jennings in the third. Offering some strong fundamentals and versatility, the 22-year-old should be able to see considerable snaps in New England’s defense from Day one on.
7-230 C Dustin Woodard: The third interior offensive lineman drafted by the Patriots on Day Three, Woodard gives the Patriots an emergency option behind center David Andrews, who missed all of 2019 after blood clots were discovered in his lungs. While the rookie is somewhat undersized at 6-foot-1, 295 pounds, his experience — he started 52 games during his career at Memphis — could help him earn a depth spot on the team.
In accordance with the league’s rookie wage scale that was introduced as part of the 2011 collective bargaining agreement, both players have been signed to four-year contracts. Per Over The Cap, Jennings’ deal will be worth a total of $4.6 million with a 2020 salary cap hit of $835,795. Woodard’s contract, on the other hand has been valued at $3.4 million in total and $634,331 for this season. With the top-51 rule in place, only Jennings would count against New England’s salary cap at the moment.