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Takin’ A Stab…

…so while the Boston Celtics and Boston Bruins presumably wrap up their current playoff series’ this coming week, one way or the other, and me waiting to comment more on them until after they are complete, we thought we could stuff a New England Patriot roster projection right in the middle of all that to pass the time.

How’s that for a run-on sentence?!

Oh and the Red Sox?  They seem to be rounding back into form.  But then they will probably lose the upcoming series to the Orioles.  So let’s push them off for a bit as well.

In any event, projections don’t really mean much, especially at this time of year.  But we certainly do love to do them.  Even better once all the draft picks and other nobodies fill up the 90-man roster without anyone ever seeing (or really, hearing) what they are doing in practices over the spring/summer.  So let’s get right to it:

Offense:

QB (3):

Locks:  Tom Brady, Jarrett Stidham

In:  Brian Hoyer

Out:  Danny Etling

Way Out:  None

Comments:  Stidham would have to be really atrocious all spring and summer for him not to stick.  Hoyer’s 3 mil cap hit is stupid, but he will be around for insurance for one more year.  Could they cut him and leave him “on call”?  Perhaps.  But I don’t see it playing out that way.  Unless Stidham is the real deal.  Some people have been pointing out that the Pats did keep 4 quarterbacks one year of the Belichick regime.  But that 4th QB was Brady.  Etling is…and will not…be Brady.  Plus if they thought he could be they would have kept him on the roster last year.

RB (5):

Locks:  Rex Burkhead, James White, Sony Michel, Damien Harris, James Develin (FB)

In:  None

Out:  None

Way Out:  Nick Brossette, Jakob Johnson (FB)

Comments:  Nothing to see here.  4 dudes from last season and a third rounder from this year.  Good enough.

WR (5):

Locks:  Julian Edelman, N’Keal Harry

In:  Phillip Dorsett, Bruce Ellington, Demaryius Thomas

Out:  Braxton Berrios, Maurice Harris, Damoun Patterson

Way Out:  Ryan Davis, Jakobi Meyers

Suspended:  Josh Gordon

Comments:  Could be the position most in flux.  Edelman and the first rounder Harry are locks of course.  Then what?  The coaches seem to love Dorsett.  Thomas signed for fairly big coin and may start the year on the PUP list, so he likely sticks…unless he turns out to be Chad Ochocinco, Reggie Wayne, Eric Decker, Joey Galloway or the like.  Meaning, he can’t get the offense or is officially done.  Maybe Berrios or Harris beats out Ellington.  Maybe none of the three make it.  There seems to always be some buzz around Berrios, but for now, I’m going with the veteran.  If, for some unknown…and unbelievable…reason Gordon is reinstated, then he gets a spot over everyone but the top two.  Not going to count on that, however.

TE (3):

Locks:  None

In:  Matt LaCosse, Austin Sefarian-Jenkins, Ryan Izzo

Out:  Stephen Anderson

Way Out:  Andrew Beck

Comments:  Complete turnover.  Worse yet, no Gronk.  In any event, your guess is as good as mine.  LaCosse got signed to a decent deal.  But the club seems to like Izzo and Anderson.  Sefarian-Jenkins may be the guy with the most talent, but who really knows with him?  Rumors of Ben Watson are in the air.  And perhaps Gronk at midseason?  Doubt it.  But it wouldn’t surprise me if none of these guys were here for Opening Night, to be brutally honest.

OL (8):

Locks:  Isaiah Wynn (LT), Joe Thuney (LG), David Andrews (C), Shaq Mason (RG), Marcus Cannon (RT),

In:  Yodny Cajuste (T), Hjalte Froholdt (G), Ted Karras (G/C),

Out:  James Ferentz (C), Brian Schwenke (C), Cole Croston (T)

Way Out:  Calvin Anderson (T), Jake Eldrenkamp (C), Tyler Gauthier (C), Cedrick Lang (T), Dan Skipper (T), Tyree St. Louis (T)

Comments:  On the other hand, this group seems to be fairly set in stone.  If Wynn is healthy, they probably go with him to replace Trent Brown at left tackle.  The other starters are mainstays.  The two fourth rounders would seem to be in, along with Karras who is the backup center.  Maybe an undrafted free agent sneaks in there somewhere since one or five always seem to make the team.  But for now, this seems right.

Defense:

DE (6):

Locks:  Michael Bennett, Deatrich Wise, John Simon, Chase Winovich

In:  Keionta Davis, Derek Rivers

Out:  None

Way Out:  Nick Thurman

Comments:  Bennett goes without saying, but the rest of the group looks to shake out like this.  Wise shows flashes from time to time, Simon re-upped for decent cake and Chase is a third rounder so they all are no brainers.  Think they give Davis and Rivers one more year.  But their spots are anything but safe.

DT (4):

Locks:  Lawrence Guy, Adam Butler, Mike Pennel

In:  Byron Cowart

Out:  Ufomba Kamalu, David Parry

Way Out:  Trent Harris, Frank Herron

Comments:  Wouldn’t shock me if a fifth body made it, but for now looks to be these guys.  Hey, Danny Shelton is apparently available!  Ugh…

LB (4):

Locks:  Dont’a Hightower, Kyle Van Noy, Ja’Whaun Bentley, Elandon Roberts

In:  None

Out:  Christian Sam

Way Out:  Shilique Calhoun, Terez Hall, Calvin Munson

Comments:  Looks like Hightower’s high cap number is irrelevant to the team.  Roberts still stinks, but they love him.  Sam is still on the outside looking in.  May be a place where any of the last three players could sneak in with a big camp.  But maybe I just wanted to say the word “Shilique” again?

CB (7):

Locks:  Stephon Gilmore, J.C. Jackson, Jonathan Jones, Duke Dawson, Jason McCourty, Joejuan Williams

In:  Keion Crossen

Out:  Ken Webster

Way Out:  D’Angelo Ross

Comments:  Loaded.  McCourty signed a pretty pricy 2 year deal, so he’s firmly in, as opposed to last year where he was firmly on the bubble.  Hard to believe they would cut bait with Dawson after lugging him around all last year.  Williams’ second round status this year locks him in.  Crossen could be in trouble, but he supposedly showed well last year, we don’t believe they would just toss him by the wayside at this point.  Jones played plenty of safety in the Super Bowl, so maybe that’s part of next seasons’ plan?

S (3):

Locks:  Devin McCourty, Patrick Chung, Duron Harmon

In:  None

Out:  Obi Melifonwu

Way Out:  Malik Gant, A.J. Howard

Comments:  Harmon makes too much money (as does Devin, for that matter), but I don’t see them jettisoning him.  Some of the corners and special teamers can back up here, in my opinion.

Specialists (8):

Locks:  Stephen Gostkowski (K), Jake Bailey (P), Joe Cardona (LS), Matthew Slater (ST), Nate Ebner (ST), Brandon King (ST), Brandon Bolden (ST), Terrance Brooks (ST)

In:  None

Out:  Ryan Allen (P)

Way Out:  None

Comments:  A hunch on the punter.  Allen has been serviceable since he has been here.  And he had a helluva Super Bowl!  But they tried to replace him last year pretty much, by getting a dude with a big leg, trying to “hide” said dude by not punting him the entire preseason, yet he still was claimed by Buffalo at final cuts when they tried to get him through waivers to the practice squad.  Now they DRAFT one in the fifth round?  And Allen only signed for one year because “that’s what he (Allen) wanted”?  Seems like the writing is on the wall here.  The rest of the specialists…it’s almost like they have tenure here.  Yeah, Bolden left for a year, but you know Bill loves him.  And Brooks is new, but he was a kind of a “priority signing” if you will.

Final comments:  Yup, that’s 56 guys for a 53 man roster!!  I can add, I swear!  I thought it was pretty good narrowing things down as I went along position by position in order though.  I didn’t go back and adjust, because…I don’t have any real answers.  There will be injuries.  And trades.  That will pare things down.

But for the sake of accuracy, the three I would remove from above to have an actual 53-man projection would be both Keionta Davis and Derek Rivers at defensive end, to be honest.  They can move some linebackers around to cover the edge.  And it’s not like those guys have stood out in any way.  For the last cut, I considered Crossen, Hoyer (as discussed above), Ellington or one of the TEs.  But I’m taking the easy way out and putting Demaryius Thomas officially on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list.

I can do what I want I guess…but a lot can happen from now until September of course.  So again, this doesn’t really mean all that much in the end…

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…

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