Roster cutdown day is the most active date on the NFL calendar, not just because more than 800 players will get released ahead of the 4 p.m. ET deadline on Tuesday. It will also see several other transactions take place all across the league — from trades, to injury-related moves, to waiver wire pickups.
The New England Patriots have traditionally never shied away from exploring all avenues to add talent to their roster, and history strongly suggests that 2022 will not be an exception.
Over the last 11 years since the 2011 Collective Bargaining Agreement was signed into effect, the Patriots added a total of 37 outside players to their active roster between the cutdown deadline and the first game of the regular season. While not all of the moves eventually turned into success stories, the organization’s willingness to invest in available players is well documented and could therefore come into focus again this year.
With that said, let’s take a look at New England’s cutdown deadline additions since 2011.
LS James Dearth, LB A.J. Edds, FB Dan Gronkowski, CB Antwaun Molden, WR Tiquan Underwood, S Ross Ventrone, G Brian Waters
The Patriots were quite active around the 2011 cutdown weekend. While most of the moves were rather inconsequential, a few do stand out: Antwaun Molden appeared in all 19 games for the team as a rotational perimeter cornerback, while Tiquan Underwood appeared in six contests before earning the dubious honor of getting cut on the eve of Super Bowl 46.
The biggest success story of the group was undoubtably Brian Waters, though. He started every game at right guard that year and was voted to the Pro Bowl, all despite getting signed as a free agent just eight days before the regular season opener.
TE Michael Hoomanawaui, WR Greg Salas, WR Kerry Taylor, OL Matt Tennant
New England explored the whole menu of player acquisition in 2012.
Kerry Taylor and Matt Tennant were claimed off waivers (and later released again before appearing in a single game for the team); Greg Salas was brought aboard via trade (and later played six offensive snaps before being voted to Pats Pulpit’s All-Anonymity Team of the 2010s); Michael Hoomanwanui was signed as a free agent (and... actually had a solid career as a blocking tight end over three seasons as a Patriot).
G Chris Barker, C Braxston Cave, LB Ja’Gared Davis, DT A.J. Francis, TE Matthew Mulligan, DT Gilbert Peña, LB Chris White
Of the seven players who were added from outside the organization on 2013 cutdown weekend, six were claimed off waivers. The seventh, Matthew Mulligan, was signed as a free agent.
New England did find some success in its moves: Mulligan appeared in 17 games as a blocking tight end, while Chris White spent two seasons in New England as a core special teamer; he helped the team win a Super Bowl to cap its 2014 season.
CB Don Jones, TE Tim Wright
Tim Wright arrived in New England as part of the trade that sent guard Logan Mankins to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He spent only one season with the Patriots, but appeared in all 19 of their games that year as a receiving tight end behind Rob Gronkowski. Don Jones was claimed off waivers from the Miami Dolphins and appeared in nine games before being let go again.
CB Justin Coleman, WR DaVaris Daniels, WR Jalen Saunders, DT Khyri Thornton, TE Michael Williams
The Patriots were rather active again in 2015, claiming two players off waivers (DaVaris Daniels, Khyri Thornnton), acquiring two more via trade (Jalen Saunders, Michael Williams), and signing Justin Coleman as a free agent. Williams and Coleman had successful stints with the Patriots: the tight end played 17 games in 2015 as a blocker and special teamer, while the cornerback appeared in 22 contests over two seasons.
CB Eric Rowe
Rowe’s tenure with the Patriots may have been marked by injury, but he did have some solid stretches of play between getting acquired via trade and leaving as a free agent again in 2019. Over his three seasons in New England, he appeared in 27 games — including two Super Bowls.
CB Johnson Bademosi, WR Phillip Dorsett II, LB Marquis Flowers, LB Cassius Marsh
Johnson Bademosi, Marquis Flowers and Cassius Marsh would all see action for the Patriots in 2017 after being acquired via trade, but only Phillip Dorsett would have a somewhat lasting impact. The former first-round draft pick, who was acquired from the Indianapolis Colts in exchange for backup quarterback Jacoby Brissett, appeared in 51 games for the club and made some crucial catches during its 2018 Super Bowl run.
WR Amara Darboh, WR Chad Hansen
New England claimed both Amara Darboh and Chad Hansen off waivers back in 2018, but neither of them ever made it onto the field in a Patriots uniform. The two wide receivers were essentially brought in on tryout basis but did not find a role on a team actively looking for wide receiver depth.
C/G Russell Bodine, T Korey Cunningham, G/T Jermaine Eluemunor
The Patriots made three trades in 2019. While Russell Bodine’s tenure with the Patriots lasted just a week, Korey Cunningham and Jermaine Eluemunor had more staying power: Cunningham and Eluemunor each spent two seasons in New England, appearing in 12 and 22 games for the organization, respectively. The latter started eight contests in 2020.
2020 was an uncharacteristically quiet season for the Patriots when it came to adding outside talent to their active roster around the cutdown deadline. The circumstances surrounding Covid-19 might have played a role in this, but at the end of the day the only moves made saw them fill out their practice squad.
Among the players added were wide receiver Kristian Wilkerson, who is with the team to this day. Unfortunately, Wilkerson suffered a concussion earlier this training camp leaving his status in question heading towards the cutdown deadline.
OL Yasir Durant, WR Malcolm Perry
Following the inactive 2020, New England added two outside players to its roster last year. Offensive lineman Yasir Durant was acquired via trade from the Kansas City Chiefs; he subsequently went on to appear in seven games with one start. Malcolm Perry, meanwhile, was claimed off waivers from the Miami Dolphins but did not make an impact before announcing his retirement earlier this offseason.
For the purpose of our analysis, two moves are omitted: acquiring cornerback Shaun Wade via trade from the Baltimore Ravens and claiming tight end Kahale Warring off waivers from the Houston Texans in the week leading up to cutdowns. While Warring was let go within three days, Wade is still with the team at this point in time.