The New England Patriots allowed the contracts of 12 former members of their practice squad to expire over the weekend. One player on that list did raise some eyebrows, though: defensive tackle Daniel Ekuale.
Ekuale had previously hinted at re-signing with the Patriots but did not put his name under a reserve/futures contract in due time. Nonetheless, it seems like a foregone conclusion that he will be back with the team sooner rather than later — something also affirmed by ESPN Boston’s Mike Reiss.
According to the report, Ekuale has “committed to re-sign with the Patriots” for the 2022 season. While not yet official, he will return to New England at one point in the near future.
Ekuale originally entered the NFL as a rookie free agent in 2018. After spending two seasons with the Cleveland Browns and another with the Jacksonville Jaguars, he joined the Patriots’ practice squad last September. The Washington State product remained on the developmental roster throughout the year, but was elevated to the game-day team on eight separate occasions.
In total, Ekuale appeared in eight games during the 2021 season. Playing a total of 115 defensive snaps over seven regular season games and New England’s lone playoff contest, the 28-year-old registered a pair of sacks as well as six tackles.
With Ekuale soon returning to the fold, the Patriots have seven interior defensive linemen under contract heading into the offseason. Davon Godchaux, Lawrence Guy, Christian Barmore, Deatrich Wise Jr, Henry Anderson and Byron Cowart are all signed for 2022 as well.
Meanwhile, one defensive tackle — Carl Davis — is headed for unrestricted free agency. The market is set to open on March 16 at 4 p.m. ET.