Bill Belichick cited Tom Brady while discussing the logic behind recent Patriots trades
Will Malik Cunningham make the Patriots’ 53-man roster? Here’s what Bill Belichick said.
Cutdown day is almost here, and the Patriots have some decisions to make on who will make the team, who will join the practice squad, and who will be released from the organization.
Bill Belichick has until 4 p.m. on Tuesday to trim the 70-plus players on the roster to 53.
So, what surprises does Belichick have in store for the roster this year? Will his streak of having at least one undrafted free-agent make the team every year since 2004 live on? Was that touchdown against the Texans enough to land Malik Cunningham on the team? How many receivers will New England stick with? Is there a spot for Trey Flowers on the defensive line?
Here is a projection of who will make the Patriots 53-man roster.
Mac Jones and Bailey Zappe.
Notes: Malik Cunningham was a tough cut at this spot because of his potential as a mobile quarterback, but the Patriots don’t seem entirely sold on him as a signal-caller since they spent most of training camp working with him as a receiver. With Jones likely starting and Zappe likely in a backup role, the Patriots may attempt to stash Cunningham on the practice squad.
Ezekiel Elliott, Rhamondre Stevenson, Ty Montgomery
Notes: Stevenson and Elliott should be locks to make the team. J.J. Taylor showed some explosiveness during the Patriots’ preseason finale against the Titans, but when he’s healthy Montgomery seems to have the edge on the third running back spot.
JuJu Smith-Schuster, DeVante Parker, Kendrick Bourne, DeMario Douglas, Tyquan Thornton, Kayshon Boutte
Notes: Rookie Demario Douglas has been a pleasant surprise at receiver, catching the second-most passes of any Patriot receiver during training camp. Smith-Schuster, Bourne, and Parker are also among Jones’s top targets. While his production hasn’t necessarily been there, Tyquan Thornton’s speed adds a dimension to the Patriots offense that they may not be ready to give up on yet. Kayshon Boutte is another intriguing prospect at receiver.
Mike Gesicki, Hunter Henry, Matt Sokol
Notes: Henry and Gesicki are both a huge part of the Patriots’ pass catching plan on offense. With Gesicki playing more of a big receiver role than one of a traditional tight end, it would make sense to have a third tight end on the roster for depth purposes. Sokol’s size and physicality give him the edge over Anthony Firkser.
Trent Brown, Cole Strange, David Andrews, Mike Onwenu, Jake Andrews, Antonio Mafi, Sidy Sow, Tyrone Wheatley Jr., Vederian Lowe
Notes: Right tackle has been a question mark for the Patriots, so they traded for a pair of tackles in Wheatley and Lowe right before cutdown day. Brown, Strange, Andrews, and Onwenu will likely start. New England will continue to develop rookies Andrews, Mafi, and Sow.
Lawrence Guy, Christian Barmore, Keion White , Deatrich Wise, Davon Godchaux, Sam Roberts, Daniel Ekuale
Notes: Guy, Barmore, Wise, and Godchaux appear to be the top four in this group. Keion White was one of the Patriots’ more impressive players during preseason and could earn himself some snaps as he continues to improve. Injuries have held Trey Flowers back in recent years, and he began his Patriots tenure on the PUP list. Ekuale and Roberts stick around for depth.
Matthew Judon, Ja’Whaun Bentley, Josh Uche, Marte Mapu, Jahlani Tavai, Anfernee Jennings, Mack Wilson
Notes: Linebacker is among the Patriots’ strongest position groups. Judon, Bentley, and Uche are key pieces of the defense. Jahlani Tavai played in all 17 games last year, making 57 tackles. Rookie Marte Mapu was a standout during OTA’s/minicamp and appears to be on the mend. Mack Wilson and Anfernee Jennings grab roster spots ahead of Calvin Munson and Ronnie Perkins.
Christian Gonzalez, Jonathan Jones, Jack Jones, Marcus Jones, Myles Bryant
Notes: First-round pick Gonzalez is poised to become a Day 1 starter. Jonathan Jones battled injuries throughout the preseason, but is expected to be ready for Week 1. Jack Jones is a question mark based on his legal situation, but will play meaningful snaps if he is available. Marcus Jones is one of the most explosive special teams weapons in the game. Bryant started six games last year, and should have a spot on the team this year.
Kyle Dugger, Jabrill Peppers, Adrian Phillips, Jalen Mills
Notes: No surprises here. Dugger, Peppers, Phillips, and Mills are all veterans with roles on this team. The Patriots are replacing Devin McCourty with a by-committee approach, and they’ll need every bit of their depth at the position to do it.
Chad Ryland, Bryce Baringer, Joe Cardona, Matthew Slater, Brendan Schooler, Chris Board
Notes: Ryland and Baringer, the first rookie-punter duo to be drafted by one team in the same year, both appear likely to make the roster. Slater and Schooler will lead return coverage, along with Chris Board, whom Belichick called one of the best special teams players in the game. Joe Cardona returns at long snapper.
Sign up for Patriots updates🏈
Get breaking news and analysis delivered to your inbox during football season.