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Examining the roster ties between Patriots, Dolphins ahead of Week 17

The ex-Patriots and ex-Dolphins in the fold for New Year’s Day.

Cleveland Browns v Miami Dolphins Photo by Kevin Sabitus/Getty Images

New Year’s Day at Gillette Stadium will mark the first meeting between the New England Patriots and Miami Dolphins since the 2022 regular season opened at Hard Rock Stadium.

Some connections have changed. Most connections have remained. And those connections extend beyond the coaching likes of Billy Yates, Wes Welker, Josh Boyer, Ty McKenzie and Steve Gregory.

The active rosters, practice squads and reserve lists of the AFC East rivals combine to include 13 ex-Patriots and ex-Dolphins.

Here’s a look down that list of players ahead of the 1 p.m. ET kickoff.


Trey Flowers, linebacker — Placed on injured reserve in October, Flowers signed with Miami in August. The 29-year-old checked into four games in between those transactions. Entering the NFL in the fourth round of the 2015 draft, Flowers racked up 203 tackles and 26.5 sacks between his regular seasons and postseasons with New England while totaling a handful of forced fumbles and a pair of fumble recoveries. His tenure gave way to a spot on the franchise’s All-Decade team. The Arkansas product had been released by the Detroit Lions at the start of past league year after signing a five-year, $90 million pact in 2019.

Elandon Roberts, linebacker — Roberts went from being a Patriots captain to a Dolphins captain as the calendar turned from 2019 to 2020. The 28-year-old linebacker has since started 41 of his 45 games for Miami while tallying 237 tackles, six sacks, three forced fumbles, one fumble recovery and an interception returned 85 yards for a touchdown. Selected in the sixth round of the 2016 draft by way of Morgan State and Houston, Roberts won two Super Bowls with New England. He started 33 of his 60 appearances over that span and visited the end zone as a fullback against his current employer.

Keion Crossen, cornerback — The 26-year-old Crossen reached a three-year contract with the Dolphins in March. It saw him reunite with his past cornerbacks coach and present defensive coordinator. The Western Carolina Catamount was chosen by the Patriots at No. 243 overall in the 2018 draft and earned a Super Bowl LIII ring as a rookie. Crossen saw 39 snaps on defense and 113 snaps that regular season before being traded to the Houston Texans in advance of the next. And after spending 2021 with the New York Giants, he has logged 31 percent of the snaps in the secondary and 51 percent of the snaps in the kicking game.

Justin Bethel, cornerback — Released by New England at the league’s 53-man roster deadline in August, Bethel agreed to terms with Miami in time for Week 1. The three-time Pro Bowler and two-time All-Pro appeared in 42 games during his run in Foxborough. He did so while amassing 902 snaps on special teams to go with 26 tackles, two fumble recoveries and one forced fumble. A 2012 sixth-round draft choice out of Presbyterian, Bethel has also made stops with the Arizona Cardinals, Atlanta Falcons and Baltimore Ravens. The 32-year-old defensive back and gunner stands with 25 tackles and one interception this campaign.

Jamal Perry, cornerback — In October, the 28-year-old Perry re-signed to the practice squad in Miami Gardens. His return came after he appeared in 31 games, starting seven, over the previous three seasons. The first 86 tackles as well as the first interception were tallied by the former reserve-futures arrival through that sample size. Undrafted in 2017, Perry had been waived by the Philadelphia Eagles in September of his rookie campaign. The Iowa State Cyclone accrued two campaigns on the New England practice squad from there on the way to Super Bowl LIII.

Eric Rowe, safety — Now four years into his stay, Rowe has started 38 of his 61 games for the Dolphins. He’s logged 294 tackles, two sacks, five forced fumbles, one fumble recovery and three interceptions. Those interceptions included a touchdown return versus the Patriots. The veteran cornerback-turned-safety was a part of two Super Bowl championships with New England after being acquired from Philadelphia in 2016. Rowe entered the league the year prior as a second-round pick out of Utah. The 30-year-old now stands in the last leg of his contract extension.


DeVante Parker, wide receiver — The 29-year-old Parker has made 10 starts for the Patriots since being acquired in April as a 2023 third-round pick and a 2022 fifth-round pick changed hands. His inaugural season on the other side of the division has brought 25 catches for 460 yards and one touchdown. Entering the NFL in the first round of the 2015 draft, the Louisville product caught 338 passes for 4,727 yards and 24 touchdowns for the Dolphins. Over the course of 93 games, he finished eighth in franchise history in receptions and sixth in receiving yards.

Lynn Bowden Jr., wide receiver — New England’s practice squad reached capacity as Bowden agreed to terms in September. The former first-team All-American and Paul Hornung Award winner out of Kentucky has since been a practice player of the week and a standard elevation. Selected by the Las Vegas Raiders in the third round of the 2020 draft, Bowden found himself in South Florida before his rookie regular season got underway. Ten appearances followed as a Dolphin, with Bowden handling 28 catches for 211 yards as well as nine carries for 32 yards. The 25-year-old spent last year on injured reserve before clearing waivers.

Davon Godchaux, defensive tackle — Godchaux has started 31 of his 32 games in the middle of the Patriots’ defensive line. The nose has posted 120 tackles, 2.5 sacks and a forced fumble in the process. On the heels of signing as a free agent one March ago, Godchaux signed a two-year, $20.8 million extension as training camp kicked off in July. The 27-year-old out of LSU previously started 42 of his 52 games for the Dolphins after having his name called in the fifth round of the 2017 draft. His final tour with Miami ended on injured reserve following a torn biceps.

Raekwon McMillan, linebacker — McMillan missed 2021 due to a torn ACL before signing a one-year extension with the Patriots while on injured reserve. The 27-year-old proceeded to start the season opener against the Dolphins and has handled 30 tackles, one sack and a fumble recovery returned for a touchdown. Entering the league with the Miami at pick No. 54 overall in 2017, McMillan also missed his rookie year due to an ACL tear. But the linebacker from Ohio State made 28 starts over the next two years prior to being traded to the Raiders. By then, he had amassed 177 tackles, two forced fumbles and one fumble recovery through 1,346 defensive downs.

Calvin Munson, linebacker — Munson rejoined the Patriots’ practice squad in October after previously spending portions of three seasons with the organization. The move came after the 27-year-old linebacker had been released from the Dolphins’ injured reserve. Undrafted out of San Diego State in 2017, Munson resided on the scout team for Super Bowl LIII. He then departed for Miami’s 53-man roster in 2019 before being part of the opposite move in 2021. Yet by last December, Miami claimed Munson off waivers from New England. His AFC East journey has spanned 135 snaps on defense and 374 snaps on special teams through 28 games.

Tae Hayes, cornerback — Hayes, who had a pick-six against the Patriots during the preseason, signed to the practice squad on Tuesday. The 25-year-old USFL champion and recent Carolina Panther went undrafted out of Appalachian State in 2019. He has been a member of six different NFL organizations dating back to then. After being claimed off waivers in December of his rookie campaign, his time with Miami featured four games through the following November. Those games featured four tackles, two pass deflections and one fumble recovery while going between the active roster and scout team.

Michael Palardy, punter — Promoted from the practice squad in November as incumbent Jake Bailey was placed on injured reserve, Palardy has since punted in six games for New England, averaging 39.6 yards per with a long of 56. His career long of 65 was set in 2021 as a Dolphin. With whom, Palardy punted a career-high 78 times through all 17 games and was named an AFC Special Teams Player of the Week. An alum of St. Thomas Aquinas High School in Fort Lauderdale, Palardy has been a member of nine NFL teams and one CFL team. The 30-year-old went undrafted out of Tennessee in 2014.