Moving right on to the defense…
Locks: Trey Flowers, Derek Rivers, Deatrich Wise
In: Adrian Clayborn
Out: Keionta Davis, Eric Lee
Way Out: Frank Herron
Comments: I’m putting Flowers in the Shaq Mason category. Trey is in the last year of his deal and may command big money next year. Money I don’t think the Pats will pay. Now, he may not command “Chandler Jones money”. He hasn’t had the start to his career that Chandler had. But he may still be too expensive for Bill’s taste. I think if a trade made sense, Bill may do it. I probably wouldn’t, as you can see the depth is a little thin at this position. But I’m not ruling out the possibility.
Hopefully Wise can build on a decent rookie year and that Rivers can show something after missing last year due to injury. Clayborn is probably a lock due to the contract…a surprising one at that…with like 2/3 of his sacks coming in a single game last year. But again, every year there is a long-time veteran that just doesn’t fit in the Patriots’ system. For some reason, I think it may be him. Just a hunch. It’s probably wrong though.
Lee flashed after being claimed on waivers last year…in the regular season anyway. So he probably has a chance. Davis always seems to be around when I write these projections, but not sure he is any type of answer. I’ve never heard of Herron, so he will need to make some noise in camp for me to take him seriously.
Locks: Malcom Brown, Lawrence Guy, Danny Shelton
In: Adam Butler, Vincent Valentine
Way Out: John Atkins, Trent Harris
Comments: One more guy I put in the “possible trade” category is Brown. His contract is up after this season. And he may require an investment. The acquisition of Shelton could grease the skids for that…though Shelton’s contract is up after the year too. Seeing that they just made the trade to get Shelton, a trade of him seems unlikely. But maybe with the other guys around, Brown can be shopped. Again, I do not think this will happen, but I am not overlooking the possibility. Guy has his fat contract and played well enough last year I guess, so he’s in.
We had Butler as “way out” in the initial projection last year. Smart. But of course, he was someone we never heard of and he needed to catch the eye to improve his standing. And he certainly did it appears. I think with a year of development, he sticks again. Valentine missed all of last year. But if he is healthy, he stays. Because he is also young and cheap. And Bill likes his fat guys.
This years’ “never heard of dudes” in this category are Atkins and Harris. So we will follow their camp progress…or lack thereof.
Locks: Dont’a Hightower, Kyle Van Noy
In: Marquis Flowers, Elandon Roberts, Ja’Whaun Bentley
Out: Harvey Langhi, Christian Sam
Way Out: None
Comments: Once again, an absolutely putrid group here, especially if Dont’a can’t stay on the field…which is bound to happen. A stud when healthy, unfortunately, that almost is never the case. They love Van Noy and gave him a ton of dough…still trying to figure that one out. Flowers and Roberts stink, simple as that. But who else is there? And the team likes these guys too. Bentley makes my team because some of the draft picks have to make it, don’t they?? (My team has the three first and second rounders and fifth rounder Bentley making it and the five sixth and seventh rounders on the outside looking in). Sam, as a sixth rounder, may sneak on, who knows? And Langhi showed some promise last year as an undrafted free agent, made the team, played sparingly, then had that horrific car accident. Who knows how well he has recovered? If he has fully, he will get his shot, since again, this is a sad linebacking corps.
Locks: Stephon Gilmore, Eric Rowe, Jonathan Jones, Jason McCourty, Duke Dawson
Out: Cyrus Jones, Ryan Lewis, Keion Crossen, J.C. Jackson
Way Out: Jomal Wiltz
Comments: Gilmore is the clear #1 now, but who plays the other spots and in what order is anyone’s guess right now. The staff seems to like Rowe. And also Jonathan Jones, who got more time at corner as the year went on before he went down with an injury late. Some people think Jason McCourty may not be quite the lock some think he is. We’ll see, but that’s where I’m leaving him now. Dawson clearly makes it as a second round pick, but how much he plays is up for debate.
Lewis had some buzz in the spring and was on the practice squad most, if not all, of last year. But then the team signed McCourty and drafted Dawson. So much for that. Crossen was a seventh rounder and I’m not sure who Jackson or Wiltz are, so let’s leave them where they are for now.
Cyrus Jones? Interesting case. Is he worth keeping around and trying to salvage? Perhaps. He looked a little better in the preseason last year before being lost for the year with injury. But a ton better? I don’t think so. I don’t think he fumbled on returns anyway. Has Bill given up on second rounders before? Yup. Bill actually has taken several bad second round picks during his tenure. But he will get some kind of shot this summer, I will bet you that. Perhaps Cyrus or one of the others can play safety? They could also try to trade him, but what the heck are you going to get for him with how his career has gone thus far? It will be interesting to watch, since I have a feeling he may stick around.
Locks: Devin McCourty, Patrick Chung, Duron Harmon
In: Jordan Richards
Out: Damarius Travis, A.J. Moore
Way Out: Eddie Pleasant
Released: David Jones
Comments: Locks are easy…then we get to Richards. Another dude who I think is atrocious. But another dude I think the staff loves for some reason. I don’t know if one of the corners can convert to safety and knock him off. Or one of these other safety characters can do it either. Jones spent last year the practice squad and was then dumped before camp. Travis was around on the practice squad last year too, but no one is chatting him up now. Moore? No idea. I do know they signed Pleasant the other day, so that seemingly leaves him out of the mix, barring a miracle. Right now, looks like Richards will be around. Sad to say.
Locks: Stephen Gostkowski (K), Joe Cardona (LS), Matthew Slater (ST), Nate Ebner (ST), Brandon King (ST), Brandon Bolden (ST), Nicholas Grigsby (ST)
In: Ryan Allen (P)
Out: Corey Bojorquez (P), Geneo Grissom (ST)
Way Out: None
Comments: It’s amazing that with Gostkowski’s inconsistency the past few years the team has not brought someone in to at least challenge him a little bit. It just doesn’t make much sense. But with Stephen and Cardona facing no competition, they are locked in. The fact that another punter is in camp this year means Allen’s job is not safe. He probably holds the kid off, but we shall see on that.
The rest of the locks basically do not play another position, so they are listed here. And since Bill loves his core special teamers, they all stick with the exception of Grissom. But Geneo will be back. He’s a guy they can bounce on and off the roster and no one else wants him. So he will always be available. And perhaps even break camp with the squad as well.
That’s about the size of it. I’ll wait until later in camp to project the practice squad and IR/PUP/NFI and other lists. Looks like Slater, Ebner, Britt, Cyrus Jones and Jonathan Jones are starting on the preseason PUP list. Bolden is on the non-football illness list apparently as well. Some of these dudes starting on the regular season PUP list will open up roster spots for others. Let’s see how that all goes.