While further moves will follow as early as Monday, roster cutdown weekend itself is in the books. The New England Patriots first trimmed their roster from 77 to 53 players through a series of cuts, before later adding 16 of those released via their practice squad. At the end of the day, 69 players were left standing — and those still under contract are still not in the clear: they will need to continue showing their value to the team on a daily basis.
“Week-in and week-out you have to continue to make the team all over again, to continue to earn your spot,” Patriots cornerback Jason McCourty recently told Pats Pulpit.
The veteran and team captain was in a comfortable position entering cutdown day. He’s a top-three outside cornerback on New England’s defense, and the team picked up his contract option for the 2020 season earlier this offseason.
Being in that position is familiar territory for McCourty at this stage in his career, but the 33-year-old has not always had the luxury of heading into cutdown weekend knowing he will survive: a former sixth-round draft pick by the Tennessee Titans in 2009, he was no lock to make and stay on the initial roster as a rookie. He did, however, and eventually became a bona fide NFL-caliber cornerback in the years that followed.
McCourty’s first cutdown weekend and its fallout are still fresh in his memory, though.
“I remember my rookie year we went through cuts and we cut down 20-somewhat players. And then we all went into our bubble and went through stretch lines to kind of just do a functional warmup to get your body rolling, and all from the spring throughout training camp you have these long stretch lines of 10, 11, 12 people in it by position group,” McCourty said.
“And then you go out there after cutdown day and you look around and it’s two people in this line, four people in that line. It’s kind of the realization ‘Man, I can never take this for granted.’ Each and every year I’m able to take part in training camp is a privilege in itself, but when I’m able to still be standing after cutdown day that’s something to be proud of and to be thankful for.”
Now entering his 12th year in the league and third since joining the Patriots, McCourty is an established presence in the NFL’s best defensive backfield — one that also includes his twin brother, safety and fellow team captain Devin McCourty.