The New England Patriots will not just kick off their joint practices with the Carolina Panthers on Tuesday and later that day celebrate retired running back James White, they also will have to trim their roster to get below the NFL-mandated 85-man threshold. Ahead of the 4 p.m. ET deadline, New England therefore needs to move two of its players.
There are several ways to get the job done, the most prominent of which is simply releasing some players near the bottom of the roster.
Looking at the preseason opener versus the New York Giants last week, a few potential candidates can be identified — mostly those who have seen limited action despite their perceived status as bubble players. Linebackers DaMarcus Mitchell or Nate Wieland are among them, as are punter Jake Julien and kicker Tristan Vizcaino.
Of course, New England also could make other moves to move below the limit. Sending players to reserve lists such as injured reserve, for example, or making trades to send players away while receiving draft picks rather than other players as compensation.
While it remains to be seen what the team will do, it would not be a surprise if one or both of the players involved will not be present at practice on Tuesday. Moves will likely not be made official until later during the day, but the 9:30 a.m. ET session might give us a clue what Bill Belichick and company might decide to do to clear those two roster spots in question.
The first cutdown day is one of three on the NFL’s calendar this month. The next will see teams trim their rosters from 85 to 80 players on Tuesday, Aug. 23, following by the final wave of cutdowns to 53 on Tuesday, Aug 30.
At that point, all three preseason games will have been played: New England will host the Panthers this Friday, followed by another set of joint practices and preseason game on the road against the Las Vegas Raiders. Those joint sessions, which will be kicked off this week, are the next major step in evaluating the roster — something pointed out by offensive assistant Matt Patricia earlier this week.
“Now we can actually go against a different opponent, the competition’s great, and then we can also take a look at our fundamentals from that standpoint,” Patricia said on Monday. “That will be a big evaluation for us this week.”