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Patriots News 01-23: A Look At the Current Patriots Roster 

Steve Balestrieri
Steve Balestrieri on Twitter
4 months ago at 5:00 am ET
Posted Under: Patriots News

Patriots News 01-23: A Look At the Current Patriots Roster David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

Good morning, unfortunately for the Patriots, the playoffs and the 2021 season are over and we’ll be watching the remaining playoff games and the Super Bowl from afar. So,  here are your Patriots news 01-23 and AFC East notes.

With the Patriots season finished, we decided to take a look at the team’s roster before they make any decisions on their own free agents. Currently, the team has 52 players under contract for the 2022 season, so there are plenty of spots open for the team to get up to their 90-man limit. 

In later posts, we’ll take a look at the team’s own free agents, and whether they’ll opt to retain them or let them walk (retire?), but for today, we’ll look at the team they have right now and what is needed moving forward.  

Quick Hitters For the Pats, and the NFL: 

Josh McDaniels: We may have spoken too soon last week when we wrote here that McDaniels wasn’t going to receive any job offers. But the Raiders are continuing to crop up in rumors about interviewing Patriots front office exec Dave Ziegler for their vacant GM position as well as interviewing McDaniels and LB coach Jerod Mayo for their head coaching position. 

ESPN Dan Graziano reported that McDaniels is on the Raiders radar, and if Ziegler does happen to get the GM position, he’d possibly be more apt to bring along a familiar face, in which case McDaniels or Mayo would make sense. 

Ivan Fears/Damien Harris: If you haven’t seen the clip of the two sharing a moment at the end of the Bills game check it out. It was a poignant moment that looks to point to Fears retiring this spring. Fears is one of the tougher position coaches to play for but is beloved by those who play for him. He is one of the coolest coaches to talk to, if he does retire it will be a big blow to the coaching staff. 

Harvey Langi: The Patriots wasted little time in signing the first of their own free agents. LB/ST Harvey Langi will return to the Patriots on a one-year deal according to the NFL.network’s Ian Rapoport, terms were not released. 

Langi is in his second stint with the team and played in all four STs units as well as filling in, albeit very little at LB. He appeared in the team’s first seven games before suffering a PCL injury that forced him onto IR. 

Trent Brown: Speaking of free agents, Patriots WR Kendrick Bourne who had a very good first season in Foxboro had a message for free agent right tackle Trent Brown. Bourne took to Instagram and sent a plea for the big man to return. ‘U better come back big bro!!! @trent”

Brown is also in his second stint with the Patriots and restructured his deal so that he could be a free agent in 2022. He cashed in with the Raiders in 2019 after playing with the Patriots during their Super Bowl run in 2018. 

Patriots 4th & 2 Podcast: If you haven’t checked out our PatsFans.com podcast, “Patriots 4th & 2” in a bit, please check it out. Russ, Derek, and I discussed the Bills loss and the outlook of the team moving forward. 

Russ Francis/Chuck Fairbanks: The former Patriot tight end and head coach both should be in the Patriots team Hall of Fame…this will be on our Sunday posts until it happens.

Patriots Roster As of January 23:

With the 2022 offseason upon us, let’s take a look at the positional groups (just like our weekly report cards) as the team currently stands. 

Offense  

The Patriots’ offense in 2021 ended up 8th in rushing, 14th in passing, 15th in yards gained, and 6th in points scored. While they appeared to keep the shackles on Mac Jones for most of the season, we’d expect to see them allow him to have more of a free rein to throw on earlier downs in 2022. 

The offense works best with a fast slot receiver who can turn 3-4 yard passes into 10-12 yard gains (see Troy Brown, Wes Welker, Julian Edelman). There are some WRs in the draft who are both blistering fast and could play in the slot or on the boundary. Jakobi Meyers (RFA) is a fine receiver but doesn’t have the speed that the team needs out of the slot. 

Running back production appears to be set up quite nicely while questions remain along the offensive line. 

Mac Jones

Mac Jones passing against the Bills during the Wild Card Playoff Game. (Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports)

Quarterbacks  

Mac Jones: Jones is signed through 2024, with an option for 2025. He had an impressive rookie season and there is no reason to believe that he won’t be better in 2022, despite the frothings of the usual suspects that 2021 is all we’ll see from him. 

One thing we’d like to see Jones do, (as I pointed out early last week on the podcast) is not only for Jones to get stronger in the team’s offseason conditioning program but to see out former MLB pitcher and throwing guru Tom House. House works with QB’s (including TB12) mechanics and throwing motion to increase their velocity and accuracy. 

Jarrett Stidham: He’s signed through 2022 and won’t be competing for the starting QB position.  He had back surgery in 2021. 

**Brian Hoyer**: Free agent

Running Backs  

Damien Harris: The former Alabama running back had a very good season and is entering the final season of his rookie deal. He and Stevenson should once again split carries.  Harris gained 929 yards on the ground and scored 15 TDs this season. 

Rhamondre Stevenson: He is signed through 2024 and showed great promise as the 1b running back to Harris’ 1a. His role could increase with improved pass receiving out of the backfield. He ran for 606 yards and 5 TDs. 

J.J. Taylor: Taylor is signed through 2022 but was kind of shunned after he coughed up a costly fumble against Tampa Bay. Although he is a favorite here, after just 23 touches all season, our earlier belief that he could be the “James White replacement” may be mistaken.

Devine Ozigbo: He signed a futures contract through 2022 and spent time on the practice squad. He should get a chance to earn a roster spot this summer as insurance for Harris and Stevenson. 

**Brandon Bolden, James White UFAs, Jakob Johnson RFA**

Wide Receiver

Kendrick Bourne: Bourne is signed through 2023 and had a very solid season, showing good chemistry with Mac Jones. He snagged 55 passes for 800 yards (14.5 yards per catch) with 5 TDs. 

Nelson Agholor:  Agholor is signed through 2022 but he and Jones never showed the kind of chemistry that the QB showed with Bourne or Meyers. Whether it was on Jones, Agholor, or both, he only logged 37 catches for 473 yards with 3 TDs, far below what was hoped for. He could be targeted for a restructuring of a contract that pays him $14.5 million in 2022. 

N’Keal Harry: Harry is signed through 2022 with a 5th-year option in 2023 but it would be a surprise if he is still on the roster by Week 1 of the 2022 season. Harry caught only 12 passes for 184 yards with 0 TDs. A change of scenery may be best for both parties. 

Kristian Wilkerson: Wilkerson is signed through 2022 and had a very solid training camp and preseason, where he showed good chemistry with Jones. However, he spent nearly the entire season on the practice squad and had a nice 2TD game against the Jaguars, giving hope for more down the road. 

Tre Nixon: Nixon spent the entire year on the practice squad but he will have to show a lot more to stick around another year.

** Jakobi Meyers, Gunner Olszewski RFAs, Jaylen Smith UFA**

Tight End

Hunter Henry: Henry is signed through 2023 and produced excellent results leading the team with 9 TD receptions.  He had 50 receptions for 603 yards on the season and one can expect those numbers to increase in 2022. 

Jonnu Smith: Smith was the guy we expected to have a big 2021 at tight end. That didn’t work out. In a “was it the chicken or the egg” situation, was it on Smith or Josh McDaniels for the failure of him to produce.  Smith had just 28 catches on 45 targets this season. But of his 294 yards, 238 came after the catch which speaks volumes of his depth of targeting. He may be asked (although I doubt he’ll agree) to make a contract restructure in 2022.  He’s signed through 2024. 

Devin Asiasi: The second-year tight end was on the active roster all season but was only active for one game and had no stats. He is signed through 2023 and should be the insurance/backup for the tight ends

Dalton Keene: Keene is signed through 2023 but was on IR all season after spending camp on PUP. He’ll get the spring/summer to show that he belongs. 

**Matt LaCosse, Troy Fumagalli UFAs**

Offensive Line

Isaiah Wynn: Wynn’s fifth-year option was picked up by the team through 2022 and he’s guaranteed  $10.4 million this year, which seems high considering his injury history and inconsistent play in 2021. 

David Andrews: Andrews is signed through 2024 and he’s not only the team’s starting center but one of the most consistent steady performers on the offensive line.

Shaq Mason:  Mason is signed through 2023 and along with Andrews is arguably the team’s best, most consistent offensive lineman in 2021. His contract will pay him more than $10 million in 2022, which could possibly lead to the team extending him to save some sorely needed cap space. We keep hearing his name as possible trade bait, which would be a blow to the offensive line but one can never discount these rumors when it comes to cash and the fact that they may feel they have good interior players that can do the job. 

Michael Onwenu: Onwenu’s play took a step back in 2021 but he is signed through 2023 and has shown great versatility logging starts at both tackle and guard. After some spotty play, he was relegated to being the extra tight end in run-heavy formations. But with some players in free agency commanding big money, he could find himself back in the mix as a starter at either tackle or guard.

Justin Herron: Herron too struggled a bit in his sophomore season but he stepped up against the Bills in the playoff loss which is a bit of an optimistic sign for 2022. he’s signed through 2023 and could also push for a starting role depending on how things play out in FA. 

Will Sherman: He’s signed through 2022 and spent most of the season on the practice squad (he was active for the game in Houston). He’ll be in the mix to make the roster.

Yodny Cajuste: Cajuste is signed through 2022, but has been snakebit by both injuries/COVID 19. Will the team opt for bringing him back for one more shot? In three years, he’s played in just 7 games with 2 starts, all of them in 2021.

Yasir Durant: Durant is signed through 2022 and was brought to the Patriots via a trade with the Chiefs at the start of the season, Durant played in six games with two starts but struggled at right tackle. He was inactive for the last seven weeks of the season. 

Arlington Hambright: Hambright signed a futures contract last week and will probably be a camp body for 2022. 

** Trent Brown, Ted Karras, James Ferentz, Alex Redmond, UFAs**

Defense  

Despite getting spanked badly by Buffalo twice late in the season, all is not lost with the Patriots’ defense.  The unit ranked #4 in yards allowed, they were 22nd against the run and 2nd against the pass as well as in points allowed. 

However, in a similar scenario to what transpired to the team in 2008-2009, key members of the defense are aging. The team is (in watching the games against Buffalo) in dire need of an influx of speed and athleticism at linebacker and cornerback. Questions about the run defense still abound after they thought they addressed them during the last offseason. 

With several key members of the unit becoming free agents or possibly retiring this year, the unit may look quite different in 2022. 

New England Patriots outside linebacker Matt Judon (9) celebrates while leaving the field following the game against the Buffalo Bills at Highmark Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

Defensive Line — 

Lawrence Guy: Guy’s play took a step back in 2021 and wasn’t his usual solid consistent self. He’s signed through 2024 and his play will be something to monitor this summer. 

Christian Barmore: Barmore is signed through the 2024 season and had a very impressive rookie season and should be a cornerstone of the defense for years to come. He played 598 defensive snaps as a rookie, the second-most among the team’s defensive linemen. Barmore had 46 tackles, 1.5 sacks, three tackles for loss, and two passes defended. His nine quarterback hits tied him for second among the Patriots in 2021.

Davon Godchaux: Godchaux was one of two big men that the team signed to shore up the run defense. It didn’t work out as the team was gashed badly down the stretch. Godchaux was inconsistent and his contract, which calls for him counting $10.25 million against the salary cap is way out of whack with what he produced. He’s signed through 2022 but will be another player who’ll be asked to restructure. 

Deatrich Wise: Wise is signed through 2024 and as much of the DL was very inconsistent during the season. But he, Guy, and Barmore should be the starting unit along the line. 

Byron Cowart: Cowart is signed through 2022, and has been a versatile depth player along the defensive line. However, he spent the entire season on IR after opening camp on PUP. He should compete again for a roster spot if he’s healthy this summer

Henry Anderson:  Anderson was another player that I missed on. Prior to free agency starting last spring, I was calling for New England to sign him, believing that he’d be a perfect fit for the Patriots’ defense. His play wasn’t up to snuff and then he was injured and placed on IR. I’d say his roster outlook was iffy although he’s signed through 2022.

**Carl Davis, Daniel Ekuale, Bill Murray UFAs**

Linebackers — 

Matthew Judon:  The Patriots signed Judon to a big-bucks contract, he’s locked up through the 2024 season. He began the season on fire but tailed off badly down the stretch. But in terms of production, he left all other defenders in the dust. 

Judon led the team (the next closest player will be in parenthesis)  with 12.5 sacks (5), QB hits with 25 (9), tackles for loss with 14 (5). 

Kyle Van Noy: Van Noy was really good during the team’s 7-game winning streak but tailed off (see above) down the stretch. He’s signed through 2022, but with a high cap hit, he’ll be asked to restructure

Raekwon McMillan: McMillan was shining in training camp and was brought in to be one of those athletic sideline-to-sideline players. But he tore an ACL and was lost for the year, but the team signed him for 2022. He’ll compete for a starting ILB spot. 

Josh Uche: Uche had a tremendous training camp and was very disruptive and then…fell off the face of the earth. He logged only 12 tackles, 3 sacks, 3 TFL, and 4 QB hits. This season will be a big one for him. 

Chase Winovich: Winovich is signed for 2022, but it wouldn’t be a shock if he’s dealt this spring. He’s shown good ability as a pass rusher but is a liability in run support. He had just 11 tackles, 0 sacks, 0 TFL, and only 1 QB hit in 2021. 

Ronnie Perkins:  What do the Patriots have in the rookie from Oklahoma? No one knows as he was inactive for the entire season. With big changes probably coming to this position, he’ll get the chance to show what he’s got. 

Harvey Langi: Langi was resigned for the 2022 season and played on all four STs units. (see above).

Jahlani Tavai: Tavai was a depth player on defense and played some special teams. He’s signed through 2022. 

Anfernee Jennings: Jennings was forced to play in several positions due to injuries and opt-outs as a rookie in 2020. As a result, he often struggled. He then missed the entire 2021 season with an injury and is signed through 2023. This will be a big summer for the former ‘Bama LBer.

Cameron McGrone: McGrone is another athletic sideline-to-sideline linebacker who was drafted with a torn ACL so the team selected him with the knowledge that he’d be unavailable for the season. But with him and McMillan, there is already the potential for a much more athletic group inside. 

** Dont’a Hightower, Ja’Whaun Bentley, Jamie Collins, Terez Hall, LaRoy Reynolds UFAs**

 Cornerback — 

Jalen Mills: Mills was asked to play a multitude of roles this season and was mostly solid. He’s signed through 2024 and would be best suited to playing the role that Jason McCourty filled as a safety/corner, but that would require the team to get the depth they need. 

Jonathan Jones: Jones is the Patriots’ fastest defender and he was missed after going on IR in midseason in the slot. His return will be a big boost to the secondary. 

Myles Bryant: Bryant is signed through 2022 and was forced to play a big role due to injuries/illness. While he struggled badly at times, he has the potential to be a nice depth piece in the future. 

Shaun Wade:  Wade is signed through 2024. He was brought in via trade with Baltimore at the beginning of the season but like Perkins, we really don’t know what they have as he played in only three games and had one tackle. But he was a very intriguing player at Ohio State. 

Joejuan Williams: Williams is another player who could use a change of scenery. He had a poor season and although he’s signed through 2022, it would be a surprise if he’s on the team’s roster at the start of the season. 

Justin Bethel: Bethel is an ace ST player who can fill in when needed in the secondary. But if Matthew Slater does in fact retire, he will become the go-to guy as the team’s gunner. 

** J.C. Jackson, Cre’Von LeBlanc, De’Vante Busby, D.J. Daniel, UFAs**

Safety — 

Adrian Phillips: Phillips is signed through 2024 and is an extremely versatile member of the secondary who can play in the box, at free safety, or as a dime linebacker. He signed a very team-friendly deal to remain in New England.

Kyle Dugger: Dugger is signed through 2023 and is showing signs of becoming a playmaker in the defense. He will look to add to his consistency and overall play but he should be a cornerstone of the defense for years to come. 

Joshua Bledsoe: Bledsoe was another guy who was drafted with an injury that the team knew probably wouldn’t contribute much in 2021. He was activated late in the season but suffered another injury and landed back on IR. He is an intriguing, physical but athletic option. 

** Devin McCourty, Sean Davis, D’Angelo Ross UFAs**

Special Teams  — 

The Patriots Special Teams took an enormous step backward in 2021. The STs, always one of the team’s strengths, was a liability for much of the season. The team allowed three blocked punts. The team was 13th in punt returns and 30th in kick returns while the normally stout coverage units struggled. The Patriots were 30th in kick return coverage as well as net punting average, but were 4th in punt return average.

Nick Folk

Nick Folk is a free agent in 2022. (Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports)

Cody Davis: Davis is signed through 2023 and provides decent depth at safety while still performing at a high level on special teams.

Quinn Nordin: Nordin is signed through 2022 and has a big leg but has struggled with consistency. It was tough to replace Nick Folk who had an incredible past two seasons, but if the veteran doesn’t return, then Nordin will have the chance to earn the role.

Joe Cardona: Cardona is signed through 2022 and has been a steady long snapper since he was a rookie from Navy. 

Jake Bailey: Bailey is signed through 2022 but took a big step back in 2021, possibly due to injury. But despite that, he handled punting and kickoff duties again. 

**K Nick Folk, ST/WR Matthew Slater UFAs**

Divisional Weekend Predictions:

The slate of games for the Divisional Weekend and my predictions are straight up for this week.

Saturday
Tennessee over Cincinnati
Green Bay over San Francisco

Sunday
Tampa Bay over LA Rams
Buffalo over Kansas City

 

Last Week:         5-1
Season:            182-89-1

Last Season:    169-86-1

2019 Season:   162-93-1

_______________

“We have some end of the season things to address and just clean up as we head into the offseason but most every all-action point will be at some later point down the line. And there are some things in looking at next year, on the big picture, some things that we’ll be able to control. There will certainly be some changes and things that we’ll have to adjust to and then there’ll be some unknowns, kind of like there are every year like there were this year and the year before. There’s a little bit of that every year, but I’d say the last two years, we’ve had to deal with things and adjust to them and that’s part of it too. I think we have to recognize that and just understand that there are going to be things going forward that we can’t plan for. Not specifically. So, there will be a period of adjustment and so we’ll just see how all that plays out. Again, those things are out of our control. So, we’ll wait and see what the offseason program looks like, what the spring looks like, what training camp looks like, and so forth. I’m sure at some point in time, we’ll get more definitive direction on those and then we’ll address them there. At this point, it’s even really hard to have a detailed plan on the offseason program, just until there are some more things that are kind of ironed out with that, so just as an example. So, that’s kind of where we’re at here. Players will be in tomorrow and wrap things up there and then as coaching staff, we’ve got things over the next couple months, the normal things that will come up, the draft and pre-free agency and evaluating the season and so forth. So we’ll start working on those, again over a longer period of time. So, we’ll take that when we get the opportunity to do that here. That’s where we are. Again, appreciate everybody and the patience and just working through another year with us.”

Bill Belichick at his end-of-season press conference on where the team is headed in 2022.  

_______________

“So, how was your week?”

Follow me on Twitter @SteveB7SFG or email me at [email protected]

Listen to our Patriots 4th and 2 podcasts on Stitcher and Streamyard as Russ Goldman, Derek Havens, and myself from PatsFans.com discuss the latest Patriots news and game analysis.


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Posted Under: Patriots News
Tags: Bill Belichick Brandon Bolden Buffalo Bills Damien Harris Devin McCourty Dont'a Hightower Jamie Collins Kyle Van Noy Mac Jones Matthew Judon New England Patriots NFL Patriots Rhamondre Stevenson


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