Gotta get this one in quick. Seem to be cutting a few guys early. Gotta drop another 8 guys by tomorrow. Little surprised by the Tommy Kelly cut. Somewhat surprised by the James Anderson cut. But neither will probably end up being a big deal. Plus, the bottom of the roster (and practice squad) will be in flux right up until the Opener. Without further adieu…again, (L) for those whom I consider a lock:
QB: Tom Brady (L), Jimmy Garoppolo (L), Ryan Mallett:
No changes here. Part of me still thinks Mallett may be dealt for a minor pick. Because otherwise he walks at the end of the year for nothing. Not that he is any good, but it’s good to get something for him anyway, if possible. If Brady goes down, doesn’t matter who the backup is really. And don’t tell me “well, Matt Cassel was a backup for years and when Brady went down in 2008, he salvaged the season…and Mallett knows the system and is in a similar position to what Cassel was…blah, blah, blah”. They still didn’t make the playoffs. And that team was loaded.
RB: Shane Vereen (L), James White (L), Brandon Bolden, Stevan Ridley:
Slight change here as Ridley is no longer a lock. It would be very hard for me to believe that the team would flat out cut him. But it wouldn’t surprise me if they dangled him for something. The reality is that he is the best back on the team. Yes, he fumbles. Yes, not sure why he seemingly hasn’t addressed it. But just to jettison him for that seems like a bad idea. Especially when there are no other “big” backs on the roster. I’m not including Bolden…or Jonas Gray. I’m not ruling anything out right now with Ridley though.
WR: Julian Edelman (L), Danny Amendola (L), Kenbrell Thompkins (L), Brandon LaFell (L), Aaron Dobson (L), Josh Boyce, Matthew Slater (L), Brian Tyms:
Slight change here. LaFell and Dobson are now locks as Dobson is now off the PUP list and is not a candidate to start there. Tyms makes it because of his suspension. Boyce is no longer a lock. I have done absolutely no research at all. But I would guess most draftees 4th round and above get two years to prove value in the Belichick regime. Ras-I Dowling is a notable exception. And there may be more. But guys like Tavon Wilson, Jake Bequette, Chad Jackson and Ron Brace got at least two years. So I am going with that.
TE: Rob Gronkowski (L), Michael Hoomanawanui (L), James Develin (L):
Only change is now Develin is a lock. Wouldn’t be surprised to see some shuffling here the first few weeks. Since we have no idea what Gronk’s real progess is and how bad Hoo-man is actually hurt. And Develin isn’t really a TE, to boot. Surprising they haven’t signed a vet yet. Maybe Gronk and Hoo-man will be ready for the Opener. We shall see…
OL: Nate Solder (L), Logan Mankins (L), Ryan Wendell (L), Dan Connolly (L), Sebastian Vollmer (L), Marcus Cannon (L), Cameron Fleming (L), Joe Kline (L), Bryan Stork (L), Jordan Devey:
Only change is Devey replacing Jon Halapio. Devey has played a ton, hard to see him doing that and then not making the final roster. Halapio hasn’t even played. Looks like practice squad for him. Wendell keeps his spot in large part due to Stork getting hurt. Don’t rule out Stork ending up on IR either.
DL: Chandler Jones (L), Vince Wilfork (L), Rob Ninkovich (L), Sealver Siliga (L), Chris Jones (L), Zach Moore (L), Dominique Easley (L), Michael Buchanan:
Several changes here. As stated above, surprised at the Kelly cut. Depth may be thin in the first place and he played well when healthy last year. Already took a pay cut to seemingly fit better. Smith wasn’t much of a surprise. Wished he was that “3rd pass rusher” though. Has had a nice career. Easley is a lock now, since starting on the NFI list is not an option. Moore is now a lock because he seems like he may have some talent. Joe Vellano could sneak in here somewhere still too. Maybe even Jerel Worthy…but I know nothing about that guy…
LB: Jerod Mayo (L), Dont’a Hightower (L), Jamie Collins (L), Steve Beauharnais, Chris White, Darius Fleming:
Again, Anderson was a mild surprise. Looks like Fleming may take his spot. But the lack of depth behind the starters is concerning. Probably some activity there the next couple of weeks.
DB: Darrelle Revis (L), Devin McCourty (L), Alfonzo Dennard (L), Kyle Arrington (L), Logan Ryan (L), Duron Harmon (L), Brandon Browner (L), Nate Ebner, Patrick Chung, Malcolm Butler:
Added Browner officially here, since he will make team and then serve the suspension. Like Devey, hard to believe Malcolm Butler would play as much as he has and not make the final roster. I don’t love having to keep Chung, but for special teams purposes either he or Tavon Wilson could nab this spot. Those were the changes here.
Specialists: Stephen Gostkowski-K (L), Ryan Allen-P (L), Danny Aiken-LS:
No changes here. Despite cutting Tyler Ott, still don’t have Aiken as a lock. The long snapper they plan to use this year could very well be on another roster at this time. After all, that’s how they got Aiken in the first place I believe.
55 here, including the 2 suspensions. Like I said though, still expect bottom of the roster volatility.
…since everyone else is doing it. Kinda early for me though really. Since I haven’t seen any practices or any preseason games (yes, I watch them!), I don’t know the difference between Cameron Fleming and Darius Fleming or who the hell guys like Wilson Van Hooser or L.T. Tuipulotu are. Plus there are always are a couple of undrafted guys that come out of nowhere (see Kenbrell Thompkins), guys that are highly touted for what they do on the practice field but are stiffs (see Zach Sudfeld) or guys that get cut from other teams at the end of camp being added (perhaps Benjarvus Green-Ellis coming back this year?). Among other circumstances, including 4 games worth of injuries to factor into. But here goes anyway…the players marked with (L) I would consider a lock at this point:
QB: Tom Brady (L), Jimmy Garoppolo (L), Ryan Mallett:
Billy B has cut high picks before, but as bad as the reports about Jimmy have been, doubtful it will be him this year. I’m hesitant to make Mallett a lock for a couple of reasons. First, the Patriots rarely carry 3 QB’s. Second, I still feel like they could make a trade involving him at some point during the preseason…if he shows well.
RB: Stevan Ridley (L), Shane Vereen (L), James White (L), Brandon Bolden:
People that think Ridley is going to get cut are delusional. He still can’t catch, but he remains the best back on the roster. If he doesn’t fumble (BIG “if”, I know), he could have another year like 2012. There is no “big” back likely to make the roster either. Maybe Bolden, but he is not a threat for main back duties. Bolden makes it here because of special teams and he has some RB ability. But if someone like Green-Ellis becomes available, I wonder if Bolden is gone. Also if one of the undrafted kids (Roy Finch, Stephen Houston or 1st year player Jonas Gray) shows well. There is a lot of love for James White, but I am not going to get too excited yet. We’ve been there before. Vereen will play a ton, but he will also get hurt. You can pretty much count on that.
WR: Julian Edelman (L), Danny Amendola (L), Kenbrell Thompkins (L), Josh Boyce (L), Matthew Slater (L), Brandon LaFell, Aaron Dobson:
Yup, there is room for all 7. Especially since Slater doesn’t really count. Have to put him somewhere though. Don’t have Dobson as a lock for the simple reason that I would not be shocked to see him start the year on the PUP list. Would allow them some more room for another body. Plus, if I’m not mistaken, he had his surgery later than expected and would give him more recovery time. Amendola will get one more chance to prove dependable. I believe he can be cut after this season with no salary cap implications, so this is kind of make or break for him. One of the reasons Boyce sticks too. Hard to believe they would axe him after a year too. Don’t know which way to go on LaFell. They gave him a big bonus, but you have to wonder why a team with no WRs (Carolina) would let him walk. Jeremy Gallon was drafted, but he likely ends up staying on PUP or the practice squad.
TE: Rob Gronkowski (L), Michael Hoomanawanui (L), James Develin:
Hoo-man is dinged up I guess, but he really is the only other suitable choice behind Gronk. Feel like Develin makes it as TE/FB combo. But there are a couple of young TE’s in Asa Watson and Justin Jones that have some promise…they say anyway. If the Pats feel like they cannot sneak these guys onto the practice squad, maybe one of them takes Develin’s spot. DJ Williams is also lurking, but feel like they could re-sign him quickly if needed. Hasn’t been a lot of demand for his services.
OL: Nate Solder (L), Logan Mankins (L), Ryan Wendell (L), Dan Connolly (L), Sebastian Vollmer (L), Marcus Cannon (L), Cameron Fleming (L), Jon Halapio (L), Joe Kline (L), Bryan Stork (L):
Again, room for all 10 exists. No one knows what’s wrong with Stork, but he is injured and has missed some practices. People are quick to write off Wendell and Connolly, but these guys have been around and have positional flexibility. There is room under the cap for them. The 3 draftees (Stork, Fleming, Halapio) may have promise, but probably aren’t ready. Cannon has impressed at times and Kline showed well last year. But I feel like Wendell and Connolly both stick, especially now that Stork is “behind”. Chris Barker was carried for all 16 games last year and if they want to make a spot for him, then maybe one of them goes. But my sense is that if Barker showed them anything last year, they wouldn’t have drafted 3 linemen this year. With injuries though, all 11 could stick somehow.
Defense and specialists to follow…