The New England Patriots parted ways with 24 of their players ahead of Tuesday’s cutdown deadline. A lot of the moves were bound to happen but some of the players released were a surprise to fans and media alike.
Let’s take a look at those releases, divided into four tiers from the least to most surprising.
The ‘It was bound to happen’ tier
24. OL Drew Desjarlais, 23. K Tristan Vizcaino, 22. LB Nate Wieland, 21. TE Jalen Wydermyer, 20. WR Josh Hammond, 19. DL Jeremiah Pharms Jr., 18. DB Brad Hawkins, 17. OL Yasir Durant
The nine players listed all were in a tough situation to make the final roster. You can only keep 53 players on cut day and these players were just not in a position to have a shot at making the roster. A lot of these guys played positions in which the Patriots are deep in/have solidified starters at (Wydermyer, Pharms Jr., Hawkins). Others were simply outplayed by others at their position and did not make a big enough impact to make the roster (Desjarlais, Wieland, Hammond). Some players were veterans who were passed over for others who performed much better (Vizcaino, Durant).
All of these releases were expected and did not surprise Patriots nation. A few of these guys will likely be brought back to the practice squad based off their knowledge of the system or any sort of upside they may have.
The ‘It makes sense’ tier
16. OL James Ferentz, 15. LB Harvey Langi, 14. OL Bill Murray, 13. OL Will Sherman, 12. TE Matt Sokol, 11. RB J.J. Taylor, 10. RB Kevin Harris
These seven guys all had a chance to make the team, but it makes sense that they were released. Some guys had more opportunity than others, but just did not stand out enough to earn a spot.
James Ferentz played a ton in the preseason and is very familiar with the system but looked bad across the three games.
Harvey Langi made the roster last season, which was somewhat of a surprise, but a preseason injury along with the addition of Mack Wilson prevented him from repeating what happened in 2021.
Bill Murray tried his best to crack this roster, even switching positions to the offensive line. The transition did not go great which made him expendable. William Sherman is another offensive lineman who just did not do enough to make the roster over guys like Justin Herron and Chasen Hines.
Matt Sokol is a player who was just buried on the depth chart, making him expendable despite having a solid camp.
J.J. Taylor has been able to stick around that past two seasons but the additions of Ty Montgomery/Pierre Strong Jr. along with inconsistent play led to his release. Fellow running back Kevin Harris was a sixth-round draft pick this year but was in a similar situation to Taylor as the Patriots just already have enough backs. A preseason fumble also hurt his chances significantly.
The ‘Wish they made the team’ tier
9. OL Arlington Hambright, 8. WR Tre Nixon, 7. OL Kody Russey, 6. DL LaBryan Ray, 5. WR Lil’Jordan Humphrey
These five players all had solid camps and fans wanted to see some of them make the final roster. They could either return to the Patriots practice squad or find new homes potentially on someone else’s 53-man roster.
Arlington Hambright and Kody Russey both had solid preseasons and had people talking about them. Russey specifically was opening eyes after the second preseason game against the Panthers when he saw 77 percent of the snaps. They just did not have enough momentum to stay around over other depth offensive linemen.
LaBryan Ray was an undrafted free agent signing out of Alabama who turned some heads in Patriots training camp with his play. New England had a lot of depth on the defensive line, however, and opted to go with Carl Davis and fellow rookies Sam Roberts and DaMarcus Mitchell over him.
The two wide receivers played a lot and were talked about even more after their performances. Tre Nixon caught 12 balls for 169 yards throughout the preseason but did have some drops that may have cost him a spot. Lil’Jordan Humphrey looked like a safe bet to make the team after he dazzled through the first two preseason games both on offense and special teams. However, in the third preseason game he caught just two passes for seven yards which ultimately hurt his stock.
The “surprise” tier
4. TE Devin Asiasi, 3. LB Cameron McGrone, 2. CB Terrance Mitchell, 1. DB Justin Bethel
These four guys all came as a surprise to not make the roster based off of where they were drafted, what they were brought in to do, and the depth that it leaves the Patriots with now.
Devin Asiasi was a third-round pick in the 2020 NFL draft and his release means that the Patriots only have two tight ends on the roster. This is mainly surprising due to the lack of depth it leaves at the tight end position on top of the fact that the Patriots traded up in the third round to get this player just three years ago.
Cameron McGrone was expected to be a depth linebacker and special teams piece. The 2021 fifth-rounder missed his entire rookie year recovering from a torn ACL, but was having a nice preseason before his release. He showed a lot of promise at Michigan and his athleticism was thought as a trait that could keep him around.
TerranceMitchell was signed in the offseason and the early signs pointed to him having a prominent role in the secondary. Mitchell was in trouble when New England opted to move Jonathan Jones to the outside, however, which led to rookie corner Marcus Jones to get work in the slot. Add the emergence of fellow rookie Jack Jones and ultimately Mitchell went from a starter to a cut candidate in under a month. Given what he was signed to do and where he started camp, his release was a bit surprising.
Arguably the most surprising cut of the day, however, was defensive back/special teams ace Justin Bethel. Bill Belichick values special teams a ton, so to see a great kicking game contributor like Bethel go was quite surprising. The emergence of undrafted rookie Brenden Schooler appears to be the main reason Bethel was released, but this move is still a surprise for a team that values smart special teamers so much.