Patriots Roster Projection

PHILADELPHIA, PA – AUGUST 19: Mac Jones #10 of the New England Patriots points against the Philadelphia Eagles in the preseason game at Lincoln Financial Field on August 19, 2021 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Patriots defeated the Eagles 35-0. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)

With the preseason in the rearview mirror, teams must quickly turn their attention to final roster cutdowns. Teams must be at the 53-player limit by 4 PM Eastern on Tuesday. Teams then have 24 hours to make waiver claims before being able to set their practice squads. If a player is placed on injured reserve before 4 PM Wednesday will not be eligible to return this season. Below is my projection for the Pats 53-man roster.

Quarterbacks (2)

  • Cam Newton, Mac Jones
  • PUP: Jarrett Stidham
  • Cut: Brain Hoyer

The Pats are obviously going to keep Newton and Jones on the roster. Hoyer had a solid preseason but didn’t do enough to warrant an active roster spot considering the depth elsewhere. It basically came down to what he could add to the roster versus what someone else in another position might add. To carry him and have him be a gameday inactive for all the games this year didn’t seem like a wise investment for a roster spot.

RB’s (5)

  • Damien Harris, James White, Rhamondre Stevenson, JJ Taylor, Brandon Bolden
  • Practice Squad: Jakob Johnson

Bolden wasn’t very active throughout the preseason but Belichick’s affection for him is well documented. He’s also a “core four” special teamer in line with Matt Slater. Taylor locked up his roster spot the day Michel was traded and should get playing time this season. White, Harris, and Stevenson all figure to play prominent roles in the offense. Johnson can slide to the practice squad thanks to his international roster exemption and might get called up once the Pats play a few of the injured guys on the short-term IR.

Wide Receiver’s (6)

  • Jakobi Meyers, Kendrick Bourne, Nelson Agholor, N’Keal Harry (STIR), Gunner Olszewski, Matt Slater
  • IR: Marvin Hall
  • Practice Squad: Tre Nixon, Kristian Wilkerson, Isaiah Zuber

Wilkerson and Zuber were both given ample opportunity to get the fourth receiver spot and neither did anything to really cement their status. Meyers, Bourne, and Agholor figure to be the top three receivers on the depth chart. Harry will probably be placed on the short-term IR and was making a strong case to have a role in the passing game before his injury. Olszewski and Slater make it for their prowess on special teams. It would have been nice to see Olszewski factor into the passing game more this preseason. Nixon never really got rolling and can be stashed on the practice squad.

Tight End’s (3)

  • Jonnu Smith, Hunter Henry, Devin Asiasi
  • IR Dalton Keene, Troy Fumagalli
  • Cut: Matt Lacosse

Smith and Henry were paid for a reason and aren’t going anywhere. Asiasi will be a very high-end number three tight end. Keene and Fumagalli have already been placed on IR. Lacosse was having a solid camp before getting injured in joint practices with the Eagles. He could have been a candidate to make it through cuts and then be stashed on short term IR but depth elsewhere meant he got cut.

Tackles (4)

  • Isaiah Wynn, Trent Brown, Yodny Cajuste, Justin Herron
  • Practice Squad: Will Sherman
  • IR: Marcus Martin
  • Cut: Korey Cunningham

Wynn and Brown are locked in as the bookends of the line, so they’ll be sticking around. Cajuste made a late push for the swing tackle spot and did just enough to stick around. Herron was a quality backup last year and stick around. Carrying four tackles may seem a bit heavy but with the injury history of Wynn and Brown’s inability to stay healthy last year, keeping four bodies here will maintain the integrity of the entire offensive line. Martin is already on IR.

Guards (3)

  • Mike Onwenu, Shaq Mason, James Ferentz
  • Cut: Alex Redmond

Onwenu has the makings of the next great Patriots guard. Mason and Brown on the right side of the offensive line has shown to be a human bulldozer thus far, expect that wall of man to continue to be successful in the regular season. Ferentz is a Belichick favorite and as son of Iowa’s coach, he shows a high football IQ and a good mean streak. Redmond was solid but not quite up to par with the quality of player he would’ve replaced had he stayed on the active roster.

Centers (2)

  • David Andrews, Ted Karras

Both these guys were paid to be here this year and they’ll do exactly that. Andrews will be the starter while Karras adds quality depth at center and both guard spots.

Defensive line (5)

  • Davon Godchaux, Lawrence Guy, Christian Barmore, Deatrich Wise, Henry Anderson
  • Cut: Carl Davis, Bill Murray
  • PUP: Byron Cowart

Godchaux and Guy will be starters at multiple positions along the line. Wise was paid this offseason and isn’t going anywhere. Barmore, the second-round pick, has flashed and could see ample playing time in situational football. Anderson made a late push to get on the active roster. Both present tweener bodies that can be played inside or out on the defensive line. Davis and Murray just miss the cut after a close roster battle with Anderson. Cowart is yet to practice, and Pats may use that to their advantage for the numbers game.

Outside linebackers (5)

  • Matt Judon, Kyle Van Noy, Josh Uche, Chase Winovich, Ronnie Perkins
  • Cut: Tashawn Bower

Judon and Uche may both end up with double digit sacks this year. Van Noy will be back to his playmaking ways being back in New England. Winovich may be a name to watch on roster cutdown day, but he makes it in my projection. Perhaps if a team offers adequate compensation, we see him moved. Perkins sticks as a third-round pick but may be a frequent name on the gameday inactive list. Bower never got enough going to differentiate himself from the pack.

Inside linebackers (4)

  • Don’t’a Hightower, Ja’Whaun Bentley, Anfernee Jennings, Harvey Langi
  • PUP: Terez Hall
  • NFI: Cam McGrone
  • IR: Raekwon McMillan
  • Cut: Brandon King

Hightower is the heart of the defense and was sorely missed last year, the Pats will be happy to have him back. Bentley offers a competent partner alongside Hightower and will be much better than last year with better talent surrounding him. Langi was all over the field throughout the preseason and also will be a “core four” special teamer. Jennings makes it through cutdowns before being placed on short term IR. Terez Hall is on PUP and can activated at any time. McGrone is on the NFI list and don’t expect the Pats to rush the rookie back from a torn ACL this season. McMillan tore his ACL in practice and is on IR. King was a difficult cut due to Belichick’s affection of him but he hasn’t played for the Pats in two years and has been replaced in his special teams role.

Cornerbacks (6)

  • Stephon Gilmore, J.C. Jackson, Jon Jones, Jalen Mills, Justin Bethel, Shaun Wade
  • Practice Squad: D’Angelo Ross, Dee Virgin
  • Cut: Michael Jackson, Joejuan Williams

Gilmore’s situation bears watching, not because the trade winds are swirling, but to see how the Pats handle his injury situation as he continues to work his way back from his quad injury. Jackson, Jones, and Mills will all see ample playing time this season. Jones is a candidate for short term IR depending on the severity of his ankle injury. Bethel makes it as Slater’s partner in crime on the punt units. Wade isn’t going anywhere after the Pats gave up draft capital to acquire him last week. Ross had a fantastic preseason and got snaps with the ones in the finale, he may just squeak through to the practice squad. If the Pats are concerned, he won’t, they may make a move elsewhere to keep him on the active roster. Jackson had an ok preseason capped by an awful finale. He doesn’t make the roster. Virgin goes through to the practice squad after a mediocre preseason and a poor finale as well. Williams was number 54 on this projection. I think he has done enough to make the team but depth elsewhere made this one happen. Maybe the Pats don’t need four tackles and Williams makes it instead.

Safeties (5)

  • Devin McCourty, Kyle Dugger, Adrian Phillips, Myles Bryant, Cody Davis
  • NFI: Josh Bledsoe
  • Cut: Adrian Colbert

McCourty, Dugger, and Phillips will be pretty close to every down players. Davis makes it for his special team abilities and replaces King in this projection. Bryant makes it easily and adds depth at corner and safety, he may be a candidate for short term IR depending on the severity of his injury. Bledsoe is on NFI for a broken wrist suffered during the Senior Bowl, the Pats won’t rush him back this season. Colbert is a personal favorite of mine and had a great preseason, but I couldn’t warrant keeping him on the final roster. He’s redundant behind Phillips and with a deep safety group probably would be a frequent visitor to the gameday inactive list.  

Specialists (3)

  • Nick Folk, Jake Bailey, Joe Cardona
  • Practice Squad: Quinn Nordin

No Surprises here as all three starters from last year retain their spots. Nordin briefly made it look like there may be a legit kicking competition before the wheels fell off against the Eagles. He slides through to the practice squad due to his inconsistencies.

The Pats can bring back a few of these guys after they place some on short term IR. Chances are the Pats pick up a player or two from another team after cuts and there’s always a high likelihood of a surprise trade happening as well. Any way you slice it, this year will end the Pats streak of an undrafted rookie making the roster. Depth at multiple spots with quality players makes this years cutdown a tough one to project.

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