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New England Patriots Roster Projection-Offense

It’s that time of year again.  Training camp opened up last week for the New England Patriots.  Already there has been a somewhat surprising retirement and maybe some insight into a future surprise cut.  But for now, the team has 90 players in camp, so let’s get right to it.  The first roster projection of the year, right here:

Offense:

QB (3):

Locks:  Tom Brady, Jimmy Garoppolo, Jacoby Brissett

In:  None

Out:  None

Way Out:  None

Comments:  Jimmy Football will be the starting QB by the opening of the 2019 season.  Yup, probably not a stretch here.  Brady will be 42 before that season starts.  And as much as he is on his special training regimen at his TB12 facilities, with his questionable trainer in Alex Guerrero and his range of products such as the concussion water (which apparently does not actually work, if you ask Giselle) and all that….the fact remains is that age 42 is age 42.  You simply do not see many athletes performing at a high level at that age…in any sport.  Brady did play at a high level at age 39 last season still, but as we have seen with guys like Peyton Manning and Brett Favre, the end can come quick.  People often forget that Brady had a 4 game “vacation” at the beginning of last year.  He won’t have that this year.

This analysis isn’t to bash the legend, though I admit after I re-read it, it sure sounds like it.  My apologies.  Brady will be the unquestioned starter this season.  And I expect it to be a pretty good season still for him, without a doubt.  The point really to be made here is that although we have seen greatness for quite some time at this position, it could change in an instant.  Of course we could say this about any football player at any position…any athlete in any sport actually.  But I think the locals truly believe Brady when he says he can play until his mid-to-late 40s.  I’m just here to drive the expectations of that crowd down.  So is Bill Belichick.  He clearly could have gotten top dollar for Jimmy G around the NFL draft in the spring but chose to keep him.  Does Bill think he is the real deal and the franchise going forward?  Perhaps.  Maybe he just wants good QB insurance for this (presumably) long upcoming season.  And then pulls a Matt Cassel and franchise tags Jimmy and then trades him before next season.  I think Bill would have to be convinced that Brissett is the next big thing also and ready to step in when Tom eventually fades for that to happen.  I don’t see it, but you never know…

Can’t forget about the old Madden curse either…with Brady on the cover this season.  Just sayin’…

RB (5):

Locks:  Mike Gillislee, Rex Burkhead, James White, Dion Lewis

In:  James Develin

Out:  Brandon Bolden, D.J. Foster, Glenn Gronkowski

Way Out:  LeShun Daniels

Comments:  Last year I had Brandon Bolden as only one of two locks, simply because of his special teams value.  He had also managed to not kill the team when they played him on offense as well.  So that didn’t hurt.  But he was brutal on offense last year, they have 63 guys that can play special teams this year, the team signed Gillislee and Burkhead to decent sized contracts to replace the departed Hall of Famer (according to some fans) LeGarrette Blount, among other things.  Oh, and when Bolden was free to sign with anyone in the spring, no one really wanted him.  So he’s out this year, but can easily be re-signed if needed, since again, no one really wants him.  I can’t believe I just wrote that much about Brandon Bolden.

People want to make Lewis a surprise cut this year, but I am not sure that will happen.  He undoubtedly will give them all he has for a half a season or so and then get hurt again.  So things will take care of themselves there eventually.  Gillislee and Burkhead will hopefully be more productive than Blount.  I still don’t love James White.  But he signed an extension as well and ideally will springboard off his fantastic Super Bowl performance.  We shall see.  Bill loves Develin.  Maybe better use of that roster spot elsewhere, but I see them keeping the fullback.  Foster is going to be on the fringe this year.  The “other” Gronk is depth and expendable.  And I don’t even know who Daniels is.

Speaking of Blount, I love how the team slapped that “May 9th tender” on him when they officially knew that they weren’t bringing him back.  The tender allowed the Pats to count Blount as part of the compensatory draft pick formula when he signed elsewhere.  And if he didn’t sign elsewhere after a certain date in July, he could only play for the Pats.  No one has ever heard of this tender before.  Probably people working in the league likely included.  But the Pats are ALL business.  Ask pretty much every veteran they let go of over the years when they had their replacements ready.  Troy Brown was maybe the one exception, as they let him hang around for a year longer than they should have.  But Troy spent most of that year on the PUP list.  ALL business.  Just be ready when that business involves Brady.

WR (5):

Locks:  Brandin Cooks, Julian Edelman, Chris Hogan, Malcolm Mitchell

In:  Danny Amendola

Out:  Austin Carr, Devin Lucien

Way Out:  Cody Hollister, K.J. Maye, Tony Washington

Comments:  Pretty much set in stone.  The problem is that the team usually likes its backup receivers to play special teams.  Mitchell and Amendola really don’t, other than Danny on returns.  But hard to see them ditching Danny after he took yet another pay cut…and is pretty damn clutch.  I believe they paid Carr and Hollister more dough than rookie free agents get, but there is simply no room.  They may find their way onto the practice squad, along with Lucien.  Maye and Washington just signed in the last few days.  Should get plenty of time with Brissett in the early preseason games and they can tell their kids they played with the Patriots in their careers.

TE (2):

Locks:  Rob Gronkowski, Dwayne Allen

In:  None

Out:  Matt Lengel, James O’Shaughnessy

Way Out:  Jacob Hollister, Sam Cotton

Comments:  The Pats gave Gronk some more money when they didn’t have to, so hopefully he is happy.  And of course healthy.  Those close to the team are also pointing at Allen as a surprise cut.  I don’t see it…yet.  But it also wouldn’t shock me if Belichick cut him and kept both Lengel and O’Shaughnessy.  Let’s see how camp goes.  My guess is they actually start the year with 3 TE’s, but play some roster shenanigans at the final cutdown to give themselves a better chance at keeping some kids elsewhere.  Then they can bring back at least one of Lengel or O’Shaughnessy a couple of days after final cuts.  If that even matters to you…

OL (9):

Locks:  Nate Solder (LT), Joe Thuney (LG), David Andrews (C), Shaq Mason (RG), Marcus Cannon (RT), Antonio Garcia (T)

In:  Ted Karras (G/C), Conor McDermott (T), Jamil Douglas (G)

Out:  Cameron Fleming (T), LaAdrian Waddle (T), James Ferentz (C)

Way Out:  Cole Croston (T), Andrew Jelks (T), Jason King (G), Max Rich (T)

Comments:  A little more settled than the beginning of last year.  The Pats were a disaster on the line at the end of 2015 and seemed to be throwing numerous bodies at the problem during last years’ camp.  Almost no jobs were set in stone.  Dante Scarnecchia was returning to coaching.  Not the case this year.  The starters are locked in.  Although this does not mean it is a dominant line, at least it’s a start.

Seems to me that Garcia was taken in the 3rd round of this past draft to eventually slide into Solder’s spot once his contract runs out at the end of this season.  Did you realize Solder has the second highest cap hit on the team this year behind Brady?  Me neither.  Anyway, Nate may get PAID next offseason.  Garcia may take his place as a result.  (Another reason to make a switch to a more mobile Garoppolo, by the way).  In any event, he is locked in.

I feel like they will hang on to McDermott to start and then hopefully slide him onto the practice squad shortly after final cuts.  A supposed project, he seems to have the physical characteristics they’d like to have at tackle.  And took him in the 6th round as one of their mere four draft picks.  Karras was a backup in the middle last year and I imagine he will fill the same role this year.  Another backup guard seemed to be in order, so I took Douglas over King.  Since Douglas spent some time on the practice squad last year I believe.  That may be a spot for a veteran upgrade at some point.

There seems to be no room in this scenario for Fleming and Waddle, who were on the team all of last year.  But as referenced with Bolden and the TE’s above, they may slide through unclaimed and be available for pickup at a moments notice.  If not, I am sure no one really cares.  Kind of like the last five guys on the outside looking in.  Though a handful of those guys are sure to end up on the practice squad at some point.

Next:  Defense and specialists

Patriots roster projection, v2

3 preseason games in the books.  Roster cutdown to 75 by Tuesday.  Seems like a good time to put out the next version.  82 players remain, including the QB with the suspension looming.  So 54 players will be left at the end.  Here goes:

QB (3):

Locks:  Jimmy Garoppolo, Jacoby Brissett

In:  None

Out:  None

Way Out:  None

Suspended:  Tom Brady

No changes.  Still don’t see them adding a veteran.  Jimmy Football was not very good last night, and that is a little concerning.  Perhaps some of it had to do with the fact that Tommy Boy had to have his snaps and therefore Jimmy G could not find a rhythm?  Not making excuses, but worth considering.  In my opinion, Brady should not have played at all.  But I suppose he’s done enough for the organization that if he wanted the snaps, he should have gotten them…and did.  Brissett looked good.  But take that with a grain of salt considering the fact that a lot of the defense he was playing against may not be in the league as soon as Tuesday.

RB (5):

Locks:  Brandon Bolden, LeGarrette Blount

In:  James White, James Develin, Tyler Gaffney

Out:  Joey Iosefa, D.J. Foster

Way Out:  None

PUP:  Dion Lewis

Only change is making Blount a lock.  And Donald Brown got cut already, if that counts.  Underwhelming group any way you slice it.  I could really care less about any of them to be honest.  Even Lewis.  Yup.  Lewis was great for what, 7 games last year?  And had done nothing in the league for the previous 4 years?  Sure, he was hurt a lot.  But injuries happen…and they happen to him too much.  Regardless, a lot of people act like losing Lewis is close to the end of the world.  It’s not.  Moving on…not completely sold on Gaffney.  Would love to see more of Foster, but he may be running out of time.  None of these guys seem to be any good in short yardage.  I don’t know why the Pats even bother running the ball in those situations.  Though, the offensive line also plays a part in that for sure.  Wouldn’t shock me to see a waiver wire pick up or two here before the season starts.  That seems to be a popular opinion around the team.

WR (5):

Locks:  Julian Edelman, Chris Hogan, Malcolm Mitchell

In:  Keshawn Martin, Aaron Dobson

Out:  Chris Harper, DeAndre Carter

Way Out:  Devin Lucien

PUP:  Danny Amendola

Few changes here.  Because of Mitchell’s injury I added another receiver.  Unfortunately that receiver is Dobson.  Swapped Carter & Lucien, though neither makes it anyway.  I’d actually love it if Carter…or anyone…beat Dobson out.  No secret there.  And Carter does seem to be getting a lot of love.  Never know.  Martin is no Hall of Famer either, but he signed that 2 year extension last year, so he’s likely safe.  Harper may forever be doomed by that lost fumble on a punt return against Denver last year.  To me, that was THE turning point of last season.  Maybe overstating it on one single play.  But once he dropped that ball, it sure felt different.  Right away.

TE (3):

Locks:  Rob Gronkowski, Martellus Bennett

In:  A.J. Derby

Out:  Clay Harbor

Way Out:  Bryce Williams, Steven Scheu

Hemmed and hawed a bit on this one.  Ultimately went with Derby over Harbor.  I think at this point Derby has done enough where they couldn’t slip him through waivers to the practice squad.  But I’m not sure if he blocks well enough, which you really want your third TE to do best.  And A.J. dropped the one pass Brady threw to him last night…on a third down that would have been a first down, no less.  Not a good impression there.  So it wouldn’t shock me if they kept Harbor instead.  Then again, you should be able to find a “Clay Harbor” anywhere, especially after cuts.  It also wouldn’t shock me if they kept all 4 initially, and took one less receiver, using Gronk, Bennett and/or Derby as that extra WR.  Or kept the 4 and then waived Derby a couple of days after cuts to 53-man so that it was easier to move him to the practice squad when teams already have their rosters set and are less likely to make a claim.  Or keep Derby, cut Harbor and re-sign him after Week 1, when salaries are not guaranteed.  One thing is for sure:  I’ve spent way too much time thinking about this…

OL (9):

Locks:  Nate Solder (LT), Shaq Mason (G), Joe Thuney (G), David Andrews (C), LaAdrian Waddle (T), Marcus Cannon (RT), Josh Kline (G/C)

In:  Jonathan Cooper (G), Ted Karras (G)

Out:  Chris Barker (G), Cameron Fleming (T),

Way Out:  Keavon Milton (G), Jon Halapio (G)

PUP:  Sebastian Vollmer (RT), Tre’ Jackson (G)

Oops…guess Bryan Stork wasn’t a “lock” after all.  Stork was credited with being the stabilizing force on the line once he entered into the lineup during the 2014 Super Bowl year.  Less than 2 years later he was dumped for next to nothing.  Hmmmmm.  I’m guessing the concussion history was the deciding factor.  But maybe there’s more to that story.  Anyway, this situation is still in more than a little disarray.  Vollmer may be done for the year.  Jackson and Cooper have not returned from whatever ails them.  Mason broke his hand.  Cannon is still a starter.  Solder hasn’t exactly looked great.  Karras was the starting RG last night.  Kline basically sticks because he appears to be the backup center now.  Ugh, and…yikes!  My guess is there will be some waiver activity here around cut day as well.

DE (5):

Locks:  Chris Long, Rob Ninkovich, Jabaal Sheard, Trey Flowers

In:  Geneo Grissom

Out:  None

Way Out:  None

Swapped Flowers and Grissom, but with the injuries to Ninkovich and Sheard they both likely make it anyway.  May be able to get away with limited bodies here if the linebackers they keep play a role in this position.  And they most assuredly will.

DT (4):

Locks:  Alan Branch, Malcolm Brown, Vincent Valentine

In:  Marcus Kuhn

Out:  Terrance Knighton, Joe Vellano, Anthony Johnson

Way Out:  Woodrow Hamilton

Little thin here, but maybe they can get Johnson on the practice squad.  Looked great in Game #2 and showed up ok in Game #3.  But is it enough?  Knighton played in the 4th quarter of Game #2 and apparently not at all in Game #3.  Never a good sign.  Maybe he is cut and comes back later.  Branch was suspended for whatever by the team, but not released.  Should mean he stays.

LB (5):

Locks:  Jamie Collins, Dont’a Hightower, Shea McLellin, Jonathan Freeny, Barkevious Mingo

In:  None

Out:  Rufus Johnson, Elandon Roberts, Kevin Snyder, Ramon Humber

Way Out:  None

Freeny apparently signed an extension today, so that makes him a lock.  Humber, Roberts and Johnson are all victims of a numbers game here.  Humber’s probably a guy you can move on and off the roster at your convenience…if he goes for that.  Roberts started last night and that was a bit of a surprise.  Not sure that puts him on the team though.  Johnson seems to have his moments, but as is the case with the other Johnson above, is it enough?  Who knows what Mingo brings, but since he was just traded for, hard to see him not making it.

CB (5):

Locks:  Malcolm Butler, Logan Ryan, Cyrus Jones

In:  Justin Coleman, Cre’Von LeBlanc

Out:  Jonathan Jones, Darryl Roberts

Way Out:  None

Looks like I was way off on LeBlanc.  So much so that I am putting him on.  Played seemingly the entire game last night and has gotten some love all through camp.  We shall see on Coleman, Jonathan Jones and Roberts.  Leaning toward the guy that played last year here though.  After missing all of last year, Roberts may be able to slide to the practice squad.  It appears the team likes Jonathan Jones and probably hopes he can slip through to the practice squad as well.

S (4):

Locks:  Devin McCourty, Patrick Chung, Duron Harmon, Jordan Richards

In:  None

Out:  Vinnie Sunseri

Way Out:  None

Really nothing to talk about here.

Specialists (6):

Locks:  Stephen Gostkowski (K), Ryan Allen (P), Joe Cardona (LS), Matthew Slater (ST), Brandon King (ST), Nate Ebner (ST)

In:  None

Out:  None

Way Out:  None

Injured Reserve:  Kamu Grugier-Hill (ST)

Taking one IR guess…and it’s Grugier-Hill.  He did not play last night and I don’t even know if anyone knows why.  I’m guessing that they have/will come up with something to keep him in the organization without exposing him to waivers because I think they like him.  He’s a little small for his listed position of LB, so maybe they want to keep him around to work with him more and build him up…and all that.  Just a hunch.  The rest here were pretty easy.

7 cuts to get to 75 Tuesday:  Iosefa, Scheu, Williams, Milton, Halapio, Hamilton, Knighton

Practice squad stab:  Foster, Carter, Harper, Lucien, Fleming, both Johnson’s, both Roberts’, Jonathan Jones

Until v3…

Patriots roster projection, v1.1

So I’ve been seriously slacking at this address lately.  It’s summer!  But…trying to get back on the horse.  New England Patriots preseason football starts tonight, so no better time to do it than now.  I had previously made a roster projection in early May, shortly after the draft.  Ergo, version 1.1 here.

There are 91 guys on the roster at this point.  At least that is my count.  Yup, there is only supposed to be 90.  But they have an exemption for U.S. Olympian rugby player (and safety) Nate Ebner.  Not sure when he is coming back, but I am keeping him in that status for now.  Plus, we all know Tom Brady is suspended for the first 4 games.  So instead of taking 53 guys for the final roster, I am taking 55.  Since the preseason PUP list is in effect, I’ll consider the regular season PUP list.  No practice squad or other lists at this time.  Sorry!  Let’s get to it…

QB (3):

Locks:  Jimmy Garoppolo, Jacoby Brissett

In:  None

Out:  None

Way Out:  None

Suspended:  Tom Brady

Only change from v1 is Brady’s official suspension.  People are clamoring to add a veteran here.  I don’t see it, unless Jimmy Football and Brissett show complete incompetence in the preseason.  Or there is an injury.  But remember 2008?  Matt Cassel was absolutely inept in the preseason and then went 11-5 during the regular season.  These two need all the reps they can get and I think they will get them.  No sense in adding a vet unless there is an emergency.

RB (5):

Locks:  Brandon Bolden

In:  James White, James Develin, LeGarrette Blount, Tyler Gaffney

Out:  Donald Brown, Joey Iosefa, D.J. Foster

Way Out:  None

PUP:  Dion Lewis

Only change is the PUP for Lewis that creates a spot for Gaffney.  I have a feeling about Gaffney.  Not that he will be any good.  But the fact that they have kept him around so long.  I feel like he will get an opportunity because this is his 3rd year here.  Especially with no one else really standing out.  Bolden is only a lock because of special teams.  I have never been a huge White fan, but no one is pushing him.  Foster may have, but he has been hurt.  He could end up as an IR stash.  Brown has been hurt as well.  Don’t love Blount, but Belichick does.  All is quiet on Lewis’ status.  I’m going to assume they play it safe with him.  Still extremely hard to project where they will go here.

WR (4):

Locks:  Julian Edelman, Chris Hogan, Malcolm Mitchell

In:  Keshawn Martin

Out:  Chris Harper, Aaron Dobson, Nate Washington, Devin Lucien

Way Out:  DeAndre Carter

PUP:  Danny Amendola

Only change is DA to PUP.  Similar to Lewis, haven’t heard a ton on Amendola.  I personally would’ve started both Danny and Edelman on the PUP and “saved” them for the latter part of the season.  Since, you know, they both get hurt a lot.  But as Bill would say, “football players play”.  So we have Julian active.  Of course, Jimmy G needs people to throw to I guess.  Anyway, if they start Amendola on PUP, that could create a spot for, gulp, another Aaron Dobson stint.  I’m hoping not.  Nate Washington could’ve snuck in here too.  But it doesn’t reflect well when you vomit on the first day of camp and aren’t heard from since.

TE (3):

Locks:  Rob Gronkowski, Martellus Bennett

In:  Clay Harbor

Out:  Bear Pascoe, A.J. Derby

Way Out:  Bryce Williams, Steven Scheu

No changes to the active roster.  As for the guys cut, my biggest disappointment I think is that De’Runnya Wilson was never actually signed.  He was “way out” on my first projection, but it appears he really was “way, way, way out”.  Bryce Williams and Bear Pascoe have been subsequently signed instead, but methinks they are just camp bodies.  Hoping Gronk doesn’t play at all in the preseason and Bennett plays very little.  Michael Williams may have been my 3rd TE, but he ended up on IR with a torn ACL instead.  Derby has made some noise in camp, but not sure at this point it’s enough to unseat Harbor.  Seems like a good practice squad guy.

OL (9):

Locks:  Nate Solder (LT), Bryan Stork (C), Shaq Mason (G), Joe Thuney (G), David Andrews (C)

In:  LaAdrian Waddle (T), Marcus Cannon (T), Jonathan Cooper (G), Josh Kline (G/C)

Out:  Chris Barker (G), Cameron Fleming (T), Ted Karras (G)

Way Out:  Keavon Milton (G), Kyler Kerbyson (T), Jon Halapio (G)

PUP:  Sebastian Vollmer (RT), Tre’ Jackson (G)

Lots of moving pieces here.  Kerbyson and 2015 6th rounder Halapio have been signed since the last projection…but that hardly matters.  I can’t tell if Jackson is still on the preseason PUP.  But I know Vollmer is.  Leaving them there for now, since things have been quiet, especially on the big German.  Andrews and Waddle switch places, but they both make it anyway.  Kline gets back on the roster.  Cooper has been hurt and maybe he ends up on IR, giving Dante Scarnecchia and the organization a year to try to tap into his potential as a former #7 overall pick.  Right now, Thuney and Mason are the top guards, but that can change in a heartbeat.  Fleming and Barker have been fringe depth for a few years now.  Karras may be ticketed for the practice squad.  Long way to go before this settles.

DE (5):

Locks:  Chris Long, Rob Ninkovich, Jabaal Sheard, Geneo Grissom

In:  Trey Flowers

Out:  Frank Kearse

Way Out:  None

Ninkovich should end up on the “short-term IR, designated to return” list with his torn triceps.  But he can’t be placed there until after the original 53-man roster is set.  Made me add Flowers back in and make Grissom a lock now though.

DT (5):

Locks:  Alan Branch, Malcolm Brown, Terrance Knighton, Vincent Valentine

In:  Marcus Kuhn

Out:  Joe Vellano

Way Out:  Woodrow Hamilton, Anthony Johnson

Not much difference here from May.  Kuhn seems to be getting a lot of run in camp, so I am putting him on.  Anthony Johnson was signed over the summer, but not sure that affects anything.  Not much to talk about otherwise.

LB (5):

Locks:  Jamie Collins, Dont’a Hightower, Shea McLellin

In:  Jonathan Freeny, Ramon Humber

Out:  Rufus Johnson, Elandon Roberts, Kevin Snyder

Way Out:  None

No changes with the guys who make the team.  Jon Bostic was traded and Tony Steward was cut.  I don’t know what happened to C.J. Johnson, but I don’t think anyone cares.  I moved Kamu Grugier-Hill to another position…because I can.  No one is holding out.  No one is hurt…yet.  Let’s just leave it at that.

CB (5):

Locks:  Malcolm Butler, Logan Ryan, Cyrus Jones

In:  Justin Coleman, Darryl Roberts

Out:  E.J. Biggers, Jonathan Jones,

Way Out:  V’Angelo Bentley, Cre’Von LeBlanc

Roberts was the last guy I added to the roster.  He may lose his spot if Ebner is back.  Since he was a 7th rounder in 2015 and was on IR all last year, they may be able to stash him on the practice squad anyway.  Moved Jones from “Way out” to “Out”, but I may be the only one that cares about that.  I’ve heard his name mentioned a bit in camp and that’s why I did it.  If you do happen to care, that is…

S (4):

Locks:  Devin McCourty, Patrick Chung, Duron Harmon, Jordan Richards

In:  None

Out:  Brock Vereen, Vinnie Sunseri

Way Out:  Cedric Thompson

Sunseri was a summer signee, but seems to be another fringe guy.  Devonta Burns was another guy that apparently supposedly signed after the draft but didn’t (like my pal De’Runnya…yup, just looking for a way to say the name again!)…so he’s gone.  Pretty cut and dried here.

Specialists (7):

Locks:  Stephen Gostkowski (K), Ryan Allen (P), Joe Cardona (LS), Matthew Slater (ST), Brandon King (ST)

In: Kamu Grugier-Hill (ST)

Out:  None

Way Out:  None

Exempt:  Nate Ebner (ST)

Seven specialists you say?!  Yup.  Slater, King and Ebner have rarely played their listed positions during their careers.  With Grugier-Hill seemingly on all four special teams units, it appears that will be the case with him too.  Cardona apparently will be able to play the season instead of “playing” for the U.S. Navy, so no need for a second long-snapper in Christian Yount.  So he was jettisoned a bit ago.  Nothing else exciting going on here.

That’ll do it for now.  Happy that football is starting.  Though it’s kind of a bummer that summer will be winding down.  Oh well.  At least there should be some actual football played tonight.  As opposed to the Hall of Fame Game that was supposed to be played this past Sunday.  Don’t get me going on that…

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