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Patriots roster tier: Special teams

Related: Patriots roster tier: The safeties

New England Patriots v New York Jets Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

Bill Belichick invented caring about special teams. I know that’s probably not true but we’re going to roll with it. Since coming to New England he has maintained a top five special teams unit, ranging across talent-levels like Pro Football and/or Patriots Hall of Famers (Matthew Slater, Adam Vinatieri, Stephen Gostkowski) to mediocre talents who found a way to make it work (Josh Miller, Shayne Graham, Danny Aiken). Belichick always finds himself with a productive, above average unit.

This year’s has a chance to be the best one yet.

Before I tell you why that is the case, let’s take a look at all of our other roster tiers. This is the last one so soak up all of this magic while you can.

Here is the (obvious) list.

In order: Matthew Slater, Jake Bailey, Joe Cardona, Justin Rohrwasser

The Guy

Matthew Slater — The bad news is we are in the latter half of Slater’s career, the eight-time Pro-Bowler and two-time All-Pro is turning 35 this year and his contract will run out after the 2021 season. The good news is that he is coming off the best season of his career and looks like a 25-year-old. He is the greatest special teamer of all time and is still playing like it. He is not just the guy, he is the man.

Roster Locks

Jake BaileyThough the pedigree of kickers under Belichick is *Chef’s kiss* the punting one isn’t so hot. After one year, I am officially willing to anoint Jake Bailey as a #Weapon, though. He broke the single season record for punts inside the 20-yard line last season and proved he has all the tools necessary. He has great rotation control, a cannon attached to his hip, and unbelievable feel for how the ball lands. He’s so good that Belichick traded up to the fifth round of last year’s draft to get him, and he’s the first righty punter Belichick has ever drafted (Belichick usually prefers lefty punters as the ball rotates differently off of their foot). I think Bailey has a chance to be the best punter of the Patriots’ dynasty era.

Joe CardonaCardona is special, we all know this. The work he does every year in his service does not go unnoticed, but his work on the field does. I think Patriots fans have collectively blocked out the Danny Aiken years of botched snaps. Cardona is also the best coverage snapper in the Dynasty Era as he has racked up more tackles than Aiken, or his predecessor Lonie Paxton. He will be in New England for years to come.

Justin RohrwasserQuestionable tattoos aside, I think this was a good pick by the Patriots. It’s better to get rid of someone a year too early than a year too late and that’s what they did with Stephen Gostkowski. There wasn't really a consensus number one kicker in the draft considering that they all had dreadful senior seasons. Rohrwasser, on the other hand, has played in the New England winters and has the tools, he just needed to stay consistent. He is the biggest question mark in an otherwise very solid group.

Fringe Roster Guys




Camp Body (No Chance in Hell)


No Chance List

  • Brian Lewerke
  • Gunner Olszewski
  • Sean Riley
  • Isaiah Zuber
  • Devin Ross
  • Najee Toran
  • Courtney Wallace Jr.
  • Terez Hall
  • Lenzy Pipkins
  • Malik Gant

We have officially come to the end of the tier list series. Thanks for reading, please check out my UDFA profiles and my Twitter @KeaganStiefel.