What to make of the Patriots’ cuts and last selections with their 53-man roster


The Patriots are awfully skinny at quarterback, working again, and tight finish following Tuesday’s roster cuts.

New England Patriots quarterback Mac Jones (10) reacts after a touchdown during the first half of a preseason NFL football game against the Green Bay Packers Saturday, Aug. 19, 2023, in Green Bay, Wis.
Mac Jones is at the moment the lone QB on New England’s roster. AP Picture/Jeffrey Phelps

After a busy couple of days that noticed New England announce practically 40 roster cuts, the Patriots’ 53-man roster for the 2023 season is lastly set.

Right here’s a fast take a look at the Patriots’ full squad:

Quarterbacks (1): Mac Jones

Working backs (2): Ezekiel Elliot, Rhamondre Stevenson

Large receivers (6): DeVante Parker, JuJu Smith-Schuster, Kendrick Bourne, Tyquan Thornton, Demario Douglas, Kayshon Boutte

Tight ends (2): Mike Gesicki, Hunter Henry

Offensive line (11): Calvin Anderson, David Andrews, Jake Andrews, Trent Brown, Vederian Lowe, Atonio Mafi, Mike Onwenu, Riley Reiff, Sidy Sow, Cole Unusual, Tyrone Wheatley Jr.

Line of defense (7): Christian Barmore, Daniel Ekuale, Davon Godchaux, Lawrence Man, Sam Roberts, Deatrich Clever, Keion White

Linebackers (7): Ja’Whaun Bentley, Anfernee Jennings, Matthew Judon, Marte Mapu, Jahlani Tavai, Josh Uche, Mack Wilson

Cornerbacks (6): Myles Bryant, Christian Gonzalez, Jack Jones, Jonathan Jones, Marcus Jones, Shaun Wade

Safeties (4): Kyle Dugger, Jalen Mills, Jabrill Peppers, Adrian Phillips 

Particular groups (7): Bryce Baringer, Chris Board, Joe Cardona, Chad Ryland, Brenden Schooler, Ameer Pace, Matthew Slater

As well as, each DB Cody Davis and DL Trey Flowers have been positioned on the Reserve/PUP checklist, whereas each CB Isaiah Bolden and OL Conor McDermott had been positioned on injured reserve, ending their respective seasons.

As is the case yearly when coaches should shear down their rosters, there have been just a few surprises present in New England’s selections as to who stays and who goes on their depth chart — particularly in relation to the quarterback place. 

Listed below are just a few ideas on the Patriots’ 53-man squad and the rationale behind a number of the crew’s roster tweaks.

Count on extra dominos to fall within the coming days 

Whereas there are a lot of knee-jerk reactions doled out through the NFL’s cut-down day, it’s at all times necessary to do not forget that managing a 53-man roster is a really fluid scenario.

Regardless that New England reduce near 40 gamers over the previous few days, it’s nonetheless awaiting phrase on waiver claims because it tries to assemble its 16-man apply squad.

And by that very same token, it’s all however assured that Invoice Belichick and his employees will peruse the pool of gamers throughout the league who’re additionally now hitting the waiver wire for extra reinforcements.

Count on extra roster tweaks within the days forward, particularly in areas the place the Patriots are very skinny (QB, RB, TE).

The search is on for a backup QB

In fact, the stunner of the day includes New England’s QB place, with Mac Jones at the moment the final man standing on the depth chart.

As intriguing a prospect as Malik Cunningham is, his uncooked play at vast receiver possible hindered his possibilities of making it on the 53-man unit. Cunningham may come in useful on the apply squad as a scout-team QB, though his athleticism may make him a participant groups roll the cube on as a waiver pickup.

Cunningham was at all times considered as a protracted shot to make the beginning roster, particularly as a number of the momentum from his spectacular debut in opposition to Houston began to settle down.

However the true shocker got here when New England additionally opted to launch Bailey Zappe, who went from promising in-season starter in 2022 to roster cast-off this summer season.

There’s no denying that Zappe has labored this season in Invoice O’Brien’s revamped offense, however the 2022 fourth-round decide nonetheless supplied some insurance coverage behind Jones at such an important spot.

New England may additionally attempt to sneak Zappe onto the apply squad alongside Cunningham and elevate both to the energetic roster if want be, though Zappe is also one other younger sign caller {that a} crew opts to take an opportunity on.

Jones was the much better quarterback all summer season, separating himself from Zappe and eliminating all speak of a QB competitors in brief order.

Nonetheless, given the patchwork offensive line in entrance of their QB1, the Patriots must have backup choices in place at such a vital place.

New England may scour the marketplace for a longtime, veteran backup at QB, reminiscent of former Cardinals sign caller Colt McCoy.

Skinny at different ability places…

The QB place is much from the one phase of the roster the place Belichick and his employees opted for high quality over amount.

As at the moment constituted, New England solely has two working backs on the roster in Rhamondre Stevenson and Ezekiel Elliott, together with two tight ends in Hunter Henry and Mike Gesicki.

Granted, it’s to be anticipated that each place teams are going to be dominated by these 4. Henry and Gesicki ought to complement one another out on the sphere, particularly in two-TE units, whereas Elliott’s short-yardage skills, cross blocking and receiving skillset ought to assist reduce Stevenson’s workload.

Nonetheless, accidents are a given within the NFL, particularly at these two punishing positions. Henry and Gesicki are already banged up, with Gesicki nonetheless trying to be cleared for Week 1 after struggling a gentle dislocated shoulder earlier this month.

The dearth of depth behind them maybe indicators that each tight ends shall be good to go for the common season, however don’t be stunned if New England appears to be like so as to add one other tight finish to the combo within the coming days.

If one other participant lands on injured reserve, Ty Montgomery could possibly be a participant who works his manner again on New England’s roster as a 3rd possibility at working again.

The Patriots’ included the pass-catching again closely into their offensive playbook through the spring, however the veteran misplaced loads of time after struggling a lower-body damage early into camp. His sturdiness is a matter, however Montgomery provides yet one more wrinkle that Invoice O’Brien ought to be capable of make the most of if he stays on the sphere.

…besides at vast receiver 

It certain appears like a very long time in the past that Patriots followers had been lamenting Belichick’s incapability so as to add a WR1 like DeAndre Hopkins to the roster in free company.

It stays to be seen if New England nonetheless has a confirmed take-over wideout on their roster. However Mac Jones and Invoice O’Brien have loads of choices to show to in relation to avenues for his or her aerial assault this fall.

For the primary time since 2019, the Patriots will carry six receivers on their roster, with the shocking play of rookies Demario Douglas and Kayshon Boutte forcing Belichick’s hand (in a great way) in relation to retaining surplus expertise on the place.

A bounce-back season for Kendrick Bourne could possibly be within the playing cards, whereas each DeVante Parker and JuJu Smith-Schuster have been as marketed as each a contested-catch weapon and a YAC asset whereas working out of the slot. 

The 5-foot-8 Douglas has been one of many prime gamers all camp as a fleet-footed sparkplug who has tortured defensive backs, whereas Boutte shook off a sluggish begin and flashed a number of the potential that made him a five-star recruit out of LSU.

One potential query mark includes second-year professional Tyquan Thornton, who had an underwhelming camp and is at the moment on the mend from a shoulder damage. He could possibly be a candidate for an IR designation.

Offensive line assistance on the way in which?

It’s been a bleak summer season for New England’s offensive line.

In three preseason video games in opposition to Houston, Inexperienced Bay, and Tennessee, New England coughed up 11 sacks, 15 tackles for loss, 16 quarterback hits and fumbled the ball 4 occasions.

Accidents additional hindered an already weak spot on New England’s roster, with seven of the crew’s 17 offensive linemen both banged up or the mend in Mike Onwenu, Cole Unusual, Calvin Anderson, Conor McDermott, Kody Russey, Atonio Mafi and Riley Reiff following final Friday’s preseason finale in Nashville.

However assist appears to be on the way in which for the Patriots’ O-line, with New England loading up on the place as of late.

With Conor McDermott on season-ending IR and rookie Sidy Sow struggling on the sort out place, New England gave itself some choices by buying and selling for each Vederian Lowe and Tyrone Wheatley Jr. 

The return of Calvin Anderson stands as a serious elevate for the Patriots, with the veteran sort out lacking all of coaching camp and the whole preseason slate resulting from a non-football sickness.

Anderson presents the very best upside of accessible linemen in relation to shoring up the emptiness at proper sort out, though time isn’t precisely on his aspect in relation to preparing for Week 1.

Nonetheless, New England’s O-line is in higher form than it was only a few days in the past.

Any surprises on protection?

Aside from Carl Davis’ launch on Saturday, there weren’t essentially an entire lot of bombshells to be discovered so far as roster cuts on New England’s protection.

However good on second-year defensive lineman Sam Roberts for shaking off a so-so recreation in opposition to the Packers on Aug. 19 and securing a roster spot with a dominant displaying in opposition to the Titans (run stuff, two tackles for loss, 1.0 sack) final Friday.

Not solely ought to an enhancing Roberts add some thump in opposition to the run, however his excessive motor may come in useful throughout pass-rushing conditions.

Different robust performances in Nashville from LB Calvin Munson (10 tackles, one interception) and LB Ronnie Perkins (QB hit, 4 hurries) sadly weren’t sufficient for both participant to earn an preliminary spot on the 53-man roster, though a job could possibly be carved out following an IR designation. Worst case, each gamers must be utilized on the apply squad.

Youth wins out on particular groups

The Patriots’ special-teams unit continues to be led by the crew’s elder statesman in 37-year-old Matthew Slater.

However two of essentially the most featured roles on that grouping shall be anchored by a pair of rookies in kicker Chad Ryland and punter Bryce Baringer.

Baringer profitable the punting battle over veteran Corliss Waitman wasn’t a lot of a shock. The 2023 sixth-round decide overcame some apply mishaps by completely booting the ball throughout preseason play. Throughout his 11 preseason punts, Baringer averaged 51.1 yards, together with a 69-yard bomb in opposition to the Titans on Friday.

On condition that New England traded up so as to add Ryland within the fourth spherical of the 2023 Draft, it is sensible that the Patriots prioritized the 23-year-old kicker out of Maryland.

Nevertheless it was an in depth competitors between him and veteran incumbent Nick People earlier than New England in the end dealt the latter to the Titans on Tuesday afternoon. Regardless that Ryland has the next upside due to his leg power, People was extra constant over the summer season, particularly on kicks inside 40 yards.

However with New England already coping with a roster crunch at numerous different spots throughout the depth chart, carrying two kickers into the common season was by no means going to be a practical possibility.