Cut or Keep? Taking a Meat Cleaver to the Patriots Offense

Recently I played a game of Cut or Keep with the Patriots offensive roster. In this exercise, you must either cut or keep the player for next year, regardless of age, contract value or status. No wishy-wash "buts" or "what ifs" allowed. The point is to force consideration of a simple question: Is the player valuable enough—whether based on recent performance metrics or potential room for growth or some combination of the two—to warrant a return to next year's roster. Put bluntly, is this a player I’m excited about—or at least, curious about—seeing in a Pats uniform again?

Below are my results. The upshot? The current Pats offense is a five-alarm fire, and not in the good way that adjective is used today. Based on these results, I couldn’t even field a complete NFL offense next year! That’s a depressing finding, and one that underscores the daunting challenge confronting Jerod Mayo and the new regime.

Of course, no one would build a roster in just this way. There are obvious monetary calculations involved in real life roster-building that should not inform decisions in a game of Cut or Keep. For instance, Mike Onwenu is a keeper in my book, which means that the Pats would have to re-sign him to actually keep him. That will take lots of money, which in turn would affect the team’s ability to fill other needs. On the other hand, JuJu Smith-Shuster is a cut, which means the Pats will be on the hook for his guaranteed $$ next year, and get nothing in return, should they ultimately send him packing. Also, in real life a team need not cut a player it no longer wants or sees value in. They could trade him—if they can find a willing partner (read: Mac Jones?). And finally, in Cut or Keep, there is no practice squad available to split hairs in your evaluation of a player.

In the interest of brevity, I do not offer the reasoning behind my decisions, but I’d be happy to, if anyone cares to know.

Mac Jones – CUT

Nathan Rourke – CUT

Bailey Zappe – CUT

Zeke Elliot – KEEP

Kevin Harris – KEEP

JaMychal Hasty – CUT

Rhamondre Stevenson – KEEP

Ke’Shawn Vaughn – CUT

Kendrick Bourne – KEEP

Kayshawn Boutte – KEEP

DeMario Douglas – KEEP

Jalen Hurd – CUT

TJ Luther – CUT

Tre Nixon – CUT

DeVante Parker – CUT

Jalen Reagor – KEEP

JuJu Smith-Shuster – CUT

Tyquan Thornton – CUT

Pharaoh Brown – KEEP

Mike Gesicki – CUT

Hunter Henry – KEEP

La’Michael Pettway – CUT

Matt Sokol – CUT

David Andrews – KEEP

Jake Andrews – KEEP

Kody Russey – CUT

James Ferentz – CUT

Antonio Mafi – KEEP

Mike Onwenu – KEEP

Sidy Sow – KEEP

Cole Strange – KEEP

Andrew Stueber – CUT

Calvin Anderson – CUT

Trent Brown – CUT

Vederian Lowe – CUT

Conor McDermott – CUT

Riley Reiff – CUT

Tyrone Wheatley, Jr. – CUT

In sum, of the thirty-eight offensive players currently rostered (not including Slater), I would keep but fifteen, no QBs, and only a single Tackle. That’s an absurd statement, worthy of a hearty chuckle if we were discussing any other NFL team. But what I found most illuminating was how easy it was to cut so many players. It’s a measure of how bad things are on the offensive side of the ball right now, that I barely gave a second thought to nearly all of my cuts. Indeed, I struggled much more with the keepers than the cuts (Read: Cole Strange; Antonio Mafi; Jake Andrews; Kevin Harris).

Congratulations & good luck, Jerod, you’re going to need it.

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