With the offseason workout program in the rear-view mirror, the New England Patriots are already fully “on to 2022.”
The team currently has 87 players under contract, but only 53 of them will be able to survive roster cutdowns in early September and ultimately make the active team. Over the course of spring and summer, just like we have in years past, we will take a look at the men fighting for those spots to find out who has the best chances of helping the Patriots build on their 10-7 record.
Today, the series continues with rookie long snapper Ross Reiter.
Name: Ross Reiter
Position: Long snapper
Jersey number: TBD (Offseason No. 72)
Opening day age: 22
Size: 6-foot-0, 235 pounds
Contract status: Under contract through 2022 (2023 UFA)
What is his experience? Entering his first year in the NFL, Reiter’s experience at the pro level is naturally limited. After going undrafted earlier this offseason, he participated in the Kansas City Chiefs’ rookie minicamp on a tryout basis but was not signed. Instead, he joined the Patriots as a free agent following a workout a short time later. In New England, he took part in organized team activities as well as mandatory minicamp. Like all other rookies, however, he has yet to play in a real game against NFL-level competition.
Reiter did play a lot of competitive football before arriving in New England, though. Serving as Colorado State’s primary long snapper for his entire four-year career with the Rams, he saw action in 40 contests and snapped the ball on a combined 375 field goal attempts, extra point tries and punts. Additionally, he registered a total of six tackles in the game’s third phase. His performance earned him several individual accolades and helped CSU field a productive kicking game unit.
What did his 2021 season look like? Coming off a 2020 junior season that saw Colorado State play only four of its originally scheduled eight games due to Covid-19, Reiter decided to stay in school for his senior campaign. The decision obviously paid off for him, given that he currently finds himself on an NFL roster. That would not have been possible without him producing another quality season, though: snapping on field goals, point-after tries and punts, Reiter was credited with zero misfires on his 102 snaps.
His overall contributions to the Rams may have been somewhat limited due to his role, but that does not mean his value was as well. Reiter, after all, proved himself a very reliable player: not only was he virtually perfect on his snaps, he also did not miss a single of his 12 games in 2021. Additionally, he showed his capabilities as a tackler: he was able to register one takedown on a punt return in early September against Vanderbilt. All in all, he therefore ended his college career in style.
What is his projected role? Reiter spent his entire college career playing the long snapper position, and the expectation is that he will do the same heading into the NFL. In fact, he already did so during New England’s organized team activities and mandatory minicamp. With veteran Joe Cardona also on the team, however, Reiter is currently the second long snapper on the Patriots’ current 87-man roster.
Does he have positional versatility? When it comes to his pro-level outlook, Reiter offers no real positional versatility: he will be a long snapper, and a long snapper only. That does not mean he has no experience playing other positions, though. During his senior high school season at Brophy Prep in Phoenix, for example, he registered 25 tackles, a sack and a forced fumble while also blocking a field goal.
What is his special teams value? Reiter’s entire value to the Patriots comes through special teams, and he has shown that he can be a productive player both on field goal and extra point attempts as well as in punting situations. Furthermore, he was recruited to Colorado State to be a blocking long snapper: he was asked to get his head up quickly and engage immediately after the snap, something not a lot of college teams are doing due to their use of spread-out schemes.
What is his salary cap situation? Joining the Patriots on a standard three-year undrafted rookie contract, Reiter is currently not counting against the team’s salary cap. His contract does not include any guarantees (such as a signing bonus) while his $705,000 salary is not enough to qualify for Top-51 status during the offseason. Accordingly, he will only hit New England’s books if he is able to make the 53-man roster come the start of the regular season.
How safe is his roster spot? Even though Joe Cardona carries a $1.33 million salary cap hit in 2022, the veteran should be expected to keep his job as New England’s long snapper. Accordingly, Reiter appears to be on thin ice as far as his standing on the roster is concerned. Unless he can straight-up beat out the always steady Cardona in training camp and preseason, him ending up on the Patriots’ 53-man squad seems unlikely. That said, the practice squad is an option if the team feels his contributions as a depth option are more valuable than what backup long snappers Deatrich Wise Jr. and Jonnu Smith can bring to the table.
One-sentence projection: Reiter will be released ahead of the roster cutdown deadline, but ultimately find his way onto the practice squad as a developmental depth player behind Joe Cardona.