The New England Patriots entered Saturday with 77 players on their active roster, but after a series of cuts have now made it below the league-mandated 53-man threshold. The initial roster is of course a flexible one — players will continue to get added and subtracted.
For the time being, however, the roster is light at some positions based on the talent currently under contract. If the Patriots were to make a trade or scan waivers for additional help, those would be the spots that could be targeted. Also, the undrafted rookie streak that was established back in 2003 has come to an end with rookie players having found themselves in a difficult situation this summer without preseason football.
With that all being said, let’s dive straight into the team’s 53-man roster.
(Note: the order within each position group is based not on a projected depth chart but rather the alphabet)
Out (1): Brian Lewerke
No surprises at the quarterback position. Cam Newton has been named the Patriots’ starter and a team captain, and will lead the offense into the regular season opener against the Miami Dolphins next week. The backups, meanwhile, are offering both experience (Brian Hoyer) and developmental upside (Jarrett Stidham). Brian Lewerke, meanwhile, is a candidate to be brought back to the practice squad if he clears waivers.
Out (2): Lamar Miller, J.J. Taylor
The Patriots’ running back group is no surprise: Sony Michel and Damien Harris are the one-two punch on early downs; Rex Burkhead is a solid change-of-pace back and special teams presence; James White is one of the best receiving backs in the game; Jakob Johnson will fill the vacant fullback role. Offseason acquisitions Lamar Miller and J.J. Taylor, meanwhile, did not make the cut. That said, both could be candidates to be brought back at a later point.
In (6): Damiere Byrd, Julian Edelman, N’Keal Harry, Jakobi Meyers, Gunner Olszewski, Matthew Slater
The Patriots are a bit light at wide receiver behind projected top-two Julian Edelman and N’Keal Harry. If they decide to add outside talent over the next few days via trade or through the waiver wire, bringing more depth to the position seems like the logical move. For the time being, however, second-year men Jakobi Meyers and Gunner Olszewski as well as free agency addition Damiere Byrd serve as the depth pieces alongside Edelman, Harry and core special teamer Matthew Slater.
In (3): Devin Asiasi, Ryan Izzo, Dalton Keene
Out (4): Rashod Berry, Jake Burt, Paul Butler, Paul Quessenberry
Devin Asiasi and Dalton Keene were locks to make the team due to their status as third-round rookies. Third-year man Ryan Izzo joins them on the initial 53-man squad. He may not have the upside to become anything more than a rotational depth tight end, but he has something that neither rookie possesses: real-game experience within the system after appearing in six games during the 2019 season.
In (5): Yodny Cajuste, Korey Cunningham, Justin Herron, Jermaine Eluemunor, Isaiah Wynn
Isaiah Wynn and Jermaine Eluemunor are locked in as the starting tackles on the left and right end of the line, respectively. Joining them as depth options are Yodny Cajuste, who may have had a quiet training camp coming off a year-long stint on the non-football injury list but still has upside as a former third-round draft pick, as well as Korey Cunningham and rookie Justin Herron. The group has plenty of bodies, even though the depth behind Wynn and Eluemunor is not established in any way.
Out (2): Ben Braden, Tyler Gauthier
The interior of the Patriots’ offensive line was pretty much set heading into cutdown weekend. Center David Andrews and guards Shaq Mason and Joe Thuney form one of the best starting trios in football, with Hjalte Froholdt proving himself a capable and versatile backup this summer. Michael Onwenu, meanwhile, is a developmental prospect that the team did not want to risk losing by exposing him to waivers. Top-to-bottom, the group is probably the most talented on New England’s offensive roster.
In (5): Beau Allen, Adam Butler, Byron Cowart, Lawrence Guy, Deatrich Wise Jr.
Out (3): Bill Murray, Nick Thurman, Xavier Williams
Based on their roster statuses and training camp performances, Adam Butler, Byron Cowart, Lawrence Guy and Deatrich Wise Jr. were all locks to make the team heading into cutdown weekend. The fifth spot, meanwhile, could be subject to change soon: Beau Allen has not yet participated in a single training camp practice and could be a prime candidate to be moved to injured reserve with the plan of being reactivated during the regular season. For this scenario to work, however, he will have to remain on the roster until Monday, 4 pm.
In (4): Shilique Calhoun, Derek Rivers, John Simon, Chase Winovich
Out (1): Tashawn Bower
While John Simon and Chase Winovich were locks to begin with and are projected to play prominent roles in 2020, Shilique Calhoun and Derek Rivers both made the team due to some solid training camp performances. The two veterans provide depth on special teams (Calhoun) and in the pass rush (Rivers), as well as experience within the system.
In (3): Brandon Copeland, Anfernee Jennings, Josh Uche
Out (1): Terez Hall
The move linebacker position is one of versatility in New England’s scheme that was filled by offseason departures Dont’a Hightower and Jamie Collins in 2019: they did not just align on the defensive edge on a regular basis, but also dropped back to play as inside linebackers in select situations. Day Two rookies Anfernee Jennings and Josh Uche were used like that during training camp and project to fill the now-vacant move roles heading into the 2020 season. Veteran free agency acquisition Brandon Copeland will join them.
In (1): Ja’Whaun Bentley
Out (2): De’Jon Harris, Cassh Maluia
The true inside linebacker position is a bit thin with defensive on-field signal caller Ja’Whaun Bentley the only player making the cut. That being said, the aforementioned move linebacker position manned by Brandon Copeland, Anfernee Jennigs and Josh Uche also offers depth — as does a versatile safety group featuring players capable of lining up in the so-called “star” position. De’Jon Harris and Cassh Maluia, meannwiloe, are prime practice squad candidates if they make it through waivers.
Out (2): Myles Bryant, D’Angelo Ross
While both Myles Bryant and D’Angelo Ross had their moments in training camp, there simply were no spots available for them on the deepest cornerback group in the NFL. The two youngsters did therefore get the proverbial axe on Saturday despite coming off a solid summer. Both should be priority practice squad targets, though, if they make it through waivers. The cornerbacks to make the team, meanwhile, are an impressive mix of talent, experience and youth. Led by the NFL’s reigning Defensive Player of the Year, Stephon Gilmore, the position is the biggest strength on New England’s roster.
In (5): Terrence Brooks, Cody Davis, Kyle Dugger, Devin McCourty, Adrian Phillips
Devin McCourty is the undisputed leader of the group, with Patrick Chung’s former “star” position open to be filled. Terrence Brooks and Kyle Dugger all had impressive moments in camp, while Adrian Phillips offers plenty of experience and positional versatility. All three will see their fair share of snaps this year alongside McCourty. Cody Davis, meanwhile, projects to serve as a quality depth option behind the quartet and a core special teamer. All five of them making the team was no surprise.
In (2): Jake Bailey, Joe Cardona
Out (2): Nick Folk, Justin Rohrwasser
While punter Jake Bailey and long snapper Joe Cardona were going nowhere to begin with, fifth-round rookie Justin Rohrwasser and veteran Nick Folk were actively involved in a battle for the place kicker role. And the winner is... the chopping block? Both Rohrwasser and Folk were let go today. Of course, both could could eventually return: Rohrwasser might be back on the practice squad, with Folk possibly re-joining the team after some injury-related roster shuffling.
Injured reserve (IR): WR Quincy Adeboyejo, DT Michael Barnett
Physically unable to perform (PUP): LB Brandon King
Opt-out: RB Brandon Bolden, OT Marcus Cannon, S Patrick Chung, LB Dont’a Hightower, TE Matt LaCosse, WR Marqise Lee, G Najee Toran, FB Danny Vitale
For the time being, the Patriots’ reserve lists remain unchangned. That being said, the aforementioned Beau Allen could very well be added soon.