With the end of the mandatory minicamp on Wednesday, it is time to take a stab at putting together the Patriots’ roster for 2021. Like we wrote in our Sunday column, it is very early so there will be plenty of time between now and the end of training camp for some of the players to make a statement and earn a slot on the team
So, let’s not waste any time and get right to it. As always, the roster cutdown will make some intriguing decisions for Bill Belichick and company. Injuries that inevitably occur in training camp will also play a factor.
Cam Newton, Mac Jones
CUT: Brian Hoyer (maybe hang around the PS to help mentor Jones
TRADE: Jarrett Stidham
I still believe that Newton will be the Week 1 starter but Jones will get the opportunity to push the veteran.
RUNNING BACK (5):
James White, Damien Harris, J.J. Taylor, Rhamondre Stevenson, Brandon Bolden
TRADE: Sony Michel
In the final year of his rookie contract, Michel could easily find himself on the trading block. We’ve learned about trying to predict the cutting of Bolden, who had a nice spring catching passes out of the backfield. But he’s a STs standout Stevenson is the key here. If he shows (after a slow spring) that he can run the ball, the need for six running backs isn’t there.
WIDE RECEIVER (5):
Nelson Agholor, Jakobi Meyers, Kendrick Bourne, N’Keal Harry, Gunner Olszewski
CUT: Isaiah Zuber, Tre Nixon, Kristian Wilkerson, Marvin Hall, Devin Smith
Olszewski, because of his punt return ability is almost a lock here, so it comes down to a battle between former 1st round pick Harry and Zuber, who was turning some heads this spring.
Zuber is a speedy guy but the signing of Agholor whom the team paid this spring puts that slot firmly in his pocket. Can Harry carve out a role as the big, possession guy or will Zuber beat out him, Nixon, Hall, Wilkerson, and Smith? But regardless of who makes the 53, expect to see some of those other guys (Zuber, Nixon) on the PS.
TIGHT END/FULLBACK (4):
Jonnu Smith, Hunter Henry, Devin Asiasi, Dalton Keene,
CUT: Matt LaCosse, Troy Fumagalli, Jakob Johnson
Smith and Henry were big free agency signings, and I believe that Asiasi still has some rope because of his draft position last year. With the two tight end (12 personnel) set being more prevalent this year, having a dedicated fullback (12 personnel), so Keene may have a leg up on Johnson who still has a roster exemption.
OFFENSIVE LINE (9):
David Andrews, Trent Brown, Shaq Mason, Isaiah Wynn, Michael Onwenu, Justin Herron, Ted Karras, James Ferentz, William Sherman
CUT: Korey Cunningham, Yodny Cajuste, Marcus Martin, Alex Redmond, R.J. Prince
Nine seems like maybe one too many, however, Sherman has the versatility (on paper) to play guard or tackle and the coaches love versatile players. The camp competition here will something to watch closely
DEFENSIVE LINE (5):
Lawrence Guy, Deatrich Wise, Davon Godchaux, Henry Anderson, Christian Barmore
CUTS: Montravius Adams, Byron Cowart, Carl Davis, Akeem Spence, Nick Thurman, Bill Murray
What a difference a year makes. In one of the weakest positions a year ago, the team made some excellent fits at the DL, not the least of which was resigning Guy. Now they’ll be forced to part with some guys who played quality snaps in 2020. Godchaux is an NT who can eat up the gaps in the team’s 3-4 base. Anderson should be a great fit for the Patriots, and Barmore is a very intriguing 2nd round pick who could become a difference-maker in short order.m
EDGE/OUTSIDE LINEBACKER (4):
Matthew Judon, Chase Winovich, Anfernee Jennings, Ronnie Perkins
CUT: Rashod Berry, Tashawn Bower
Judon is among the most intriguing (and least talked about) free agent signings this year. I can’t wait to see how Bill Belichick finds ways to create some matchups for him. Perkins has potential but may need some time to find his way in the pro game. If Winovich can fix some of his issues at setting the edge, he could be a three-down player. Or he could be a situational pass rusher. Jennings was forced out of necessity to play several different roles as a rookie, but I look for a big jump from him in Year 2.
OFF-BALL/INSIDE LINEBACKER (4):
Dont’a Hightower, Kyle Van Noy, Josh Uche, Ja’Whaun Bentley
CUT: Terez Hall, Raekwon McMillan, Harvey Langi
IR: Cameron McGrone
I wanted to find a place for McMillan on the roster, he’s a guy who fits the STs core guy who can play some linebacker too. And Hall is a guy who IMO has more upside than Bentley, but the team really likes him and with Hightower and Van Noy getting older, he’s probably in their long-term plans. But with both of them back in the fold in 2021, Bill Belichick will be able to move them all over the front seven creating matchups. Uche has a ton of potential and should see a big Year 2 jump.
Stephon Gilmore, JC Jackson, Jonathan Jones, Jalen Mills, Joejuan Williams,
CUT: D’Angelo Ross, Michael Jackson Sr., Dee Virgin
As I wrote, I think the Patriots work out an extension for Gilmore to keep him around for a few more years. Williams is the intriguing piece here. Does he have a role on the team?
Devin McCourty, Adrian Phillips, Kyle Dugger, Myles Bryant
CUT: Joshuah Bledsoe, Adrian Colbert
No surprises here, Bledsoe and Colbert go to the PS
SPECIAL TEAMS (6):
P Jake Bailey, LS Joe Cardona, K Nick Folk, Matthew Slater, Justin Bethel, Cody Davis
CUT Quinn Nordin, Brandon King
King missed 2019 via injury and opted out of 2020 so missing two seasons in a row is a tough situation to come back from. Plus Davis isn’t a step down from him on STs. Nordin has a big leg but consistency is the key for him, he needs more of it.
Posted Under: 2021 NFL Offseason
Tags: 53 Man Roster Projection Bill Belichick Cam Newton Dont'a Hightower James White Kyle Van Noy Mac Jones Matthew Judon New England Patriots NFL Patriots Patriots edge rushers Rhamondre Stevenson Sony Michel