The New England Patriots are heading into the third and final phase of this year’s training camp with 75 players on their 80-man roster, and with head coach Bill Belichick mentioning during a media conference call on Friday that additional personnel transactions will take place over the coming days and weeks. While it remains to be seen how Belichick’s team will eventually fill its current vacancies, it did bring four players in for free agency workouts on Sunday.
According to the NFL’s official transaction wire, tight ends Paul Butler and Alex Ellis, offensive lineman Ben Braden and defensive tackle Greg Gilmore tried out for the team. Let’s take a closer look at them.
TE Paul Butler
After spending four seasons at California (PA) and appearing in 33 games, Paul Butler arrived in the NFL as a rookie free agent signing by the then-Oakland Raiders in 2018. While he saw regular action on offense and special teams during his first preseason, the team decided to release him before bringing him back via its practice squad. Butler spent most of his first two years in the league on the club’s developmental roster, but was signed to a reserve/futures deal by the Detroit Lions earlier this year. However, he returned to the Raiders earlier this offseason — only to be released again this month.
TE Alex Ellis
Like Butler, Alex Ellis also arrived in the NFL as an undrafted free agent: the Tennessee Titans picked him up in 2016, but he failed to survive roster cutdown day. Ellis went on to join the Jacksonville Jaguars’ practice squad and was later promoted to the active team, playing in six games and making three catches for 11 yards. Following a stint with the New Orleans Saints the following season, he joined the Kansas City Chiefs in 2018 for whom he appeared in two contests before being placed on injured reserve. He joined the Philadelphia Eagles one year later, adding three more in-game appearances to his career résumé.
G Ben Braden
A big-bodied interior offensive lineman at 6-foot-6, 330-pounds, Ben Braden joined the league as an undrafted rookie in 2017. After spending his first two seasons moving between the New York Jets’ active roster and practice squad, the Michigan product joined the Green Bay Packers in 2019. Braden spent only two months in Wisconsin, however, before being released again and returning to the Jets. While he has not appeared in a regular season game on offense thus far in his career, the 26-year-old has shown some solid versatility in preseason: he lined up at both guard spots and at right tackle.
DT Greg Gilmore
After failing to live up to his status as a five-star recruit at LSU, Greg Gilmore went undrafted in 2018 and subsequently joined the Pittsburgh Steelers as a rookie free agent. The 6-foot-4, 310-pound defensive tackle failed to carve out a role on the team’s roster or practice squad, however, and had to spend his first year as a pro in the short-lived AAF. Gilmore returned to Pittsburgh the following spring, but again was unable to make the team: he was released on cutdown day and eventually joined the Carolina Panthers’ practice squad. The team did not re-sign him to a futures contract after the season, however.