Patriots 53-man roster projection, version 5.0: Will there be any surprise cuts?

WEEI
August 25, 2019 - 8:56 pm
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There's only one week left of the preseason, but still plenty to work out when it comes to the Patriots' 53-man roster.

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With only one preseason game remaining, and the starters typically not playing, it's likely the next time we see the majority of the first-teamers will be Week 1 against the Steelers.

Here's Patriots writers Andy Hart and Ryan Hannable latest 53-man roster projections. 

(Click here to see version 4.0.)

QUARTERBACK (2): Tom Brady, Jarrett Stidham (AH)
QUARTERBACK (2): Tom Brady, Jarrett Stidham (RH)

Stidham’s playing time – he played two-plus quarters in the third preseason game – and progression have created the feeling that Bill Belichick may be able to go with his preference of two quarterbacks. Even at 42, Brady is one of the most reliable, durable passers in the game. Could Brian Hoyer be a trade option? Or maybe just re-signed out of need down the road? It wouldn’t be a stunner for Hoyer to stick around, but Stidham may just have done enough to earn the No. 2 job. (AH)

We have Brian Hoyer off the roster in this projection and it’s not due to how he’s played in the preseason, rather there are so many talented players at other positions who could make an impact. It doesn’t make sense value-wise to keep all three quarterbacks right now. Also, don’t rule out a potential Hoyer trade to a team desperate for a veteran backup. (RH)

RUNNING BACK (6): Sony Michel, James White, Rex Burkhead, Damien Harris, Brandon Bolden, James Develin (AH)
RUNNING BACK (6): Sony Michel, James White, Rex Burkhead, Damien Harris, Brandon Bolden, James Develin (RH)

Nothing changes here other than Michel coming off a really impressive performance running the ball in the third preseason contest against Carolina. As has been the case all along, barring an injury (Harris did leave with an injury against Carolina) or a surprising trade, this backfield committee seems to be set and maybe as deep as it’s ever been. (AH)

No changes here in what is likely the most set position on the entire roster. Harris did get banged up last week and wasn’t at practice Sunday, but he potentially could be the odd man out on some gamedays anyway. Regardless, this is an incredibly deep position. (RH)

TIGHT END (2): Matt LaCosse, Ryan Izzo (AH)
TIGHT END (2): Matt LaCosse, Ryan Izzo (RH)

LaCosse dealing with an injury has hindered his ability to prove his worth. Izzo had a nice catch from Brady against the Panthers that should improve his stock. It just doesn’t feel like there is enough talent or room for more than two tight ends, and even these two are far from locked in. Benjamin Watson is still in the mix, but he’s suspended the first four games. (AH)

There are still a lot of questions at this position, but LaCosse and Izzo seem to be the most reliable at the moment. Lance Kendricks (suspended one game) and Stephen Anderson are both injured, which leaves Andrew Beck and Eric Saubert as the others in the mix. Right now, LaCosse and Izzo are the only two on the roster, but that could change again once Benjamin Watson comes back from his four-game suspension in Week 5. (RH)

WIDE RECEIVER (7): Julian Edelman, Josh Gordon, N’Keal Harry, Phillip Dorsett, Jakobi Meyers, Demaryius Thomas, Matthew Slater (AH)
WIDE RECEIVER (7): Julian Edelman, Josh Gordon, N’Keal Harry, Phillip Dorsett, Jakobi Meyers, Demaryius Thomas, Matthew Slater (RH)

With Edelman (NFI), Gordon (NFI) and Thomas (PUP) all joining the active roster, spots at receiver are at a premium. Dorsett and Meyers have been the only guys healthy all summer and on the field. Dorsett has earned a spot in Brady’s circle of trust, while Meyers has done enough to earn a job. Harry’s health is certainly a question mark. The return of the veterans pushes Braxton Berrios off the roster after he missed the third preseason game. That brings some uncertainty to the punt return role, where Gunner Olszewski keeps making plays. Could Thomas be a surprise cut? Maybe – which would only lead to $150k dead cap money -- but it seems like the team has liked what it’s seen from the veteran behind the scenes. (AH)

It was hard to keep seven, but with so many players having questions of what they will be, it makes sense to carry an extra receiver just in case. Braxton Berrios was a tough cut, but it’s hard to put him on just because of his return ability. Gunner Olszewski, although has made a ton of plays, is a prime candidate for the practice squad. (RH)

OFFENSIVE LINE (8): Isaiah Wynn, Joe Thuney, David Andrews, Shaq Mason, Marcus Cannon, Ted Karras, Cole Croston, Hjalte Froholdt (AH)
OFFENSIVE LINE (8): Isaiah Wynn, Joe Thuney, David Andrews, Shaq Mason, Marcus Cannon, Ted Karras, Cole Croston, Hjalte Froholdt (RH)

Wynn now has a couple week of preseason game reps under his belt to secure the left tackle spot and fill out the starting lineup with the rest of the returning veterans. Karras earns a backup job on the inside and the versatile veteran Croston gets the nod over Dan Skipper on the outside, although bringing in a more experienced veteran off the waiver wire can’t be ruled out. Rookie Yodny Cajuste is still part of the equation, but remains on NFI. (AH)

With Wynn looking like he’s ready to go, this position is pretty much set. The only real battle is for backup tackle and that is between Croston and Dan Skipper. Karras has done his job this summer to solidify his backup interior line spot. Yodny Cajuste is also worth mentioning as the rookie is on NFI, but not ready to start the season. (RH)

DEFENSIVE LINE (9): Michael Bennett, Lawrence Guy, Deatrich Wise, John Simon, Adam Butler, Chase Winovich, Derek Rivers, Danny Shelton, Byron Cowart (AH)
DEFENSIVE LINE (8): Deatrich Wise, Lawrence Guy, Byron Cowart, Adam Butler, Danny Shelton, Michael Bennett, John Simon, Chase Winovich (RH)

The numbers stay the same here, but the names change a little with the rookie Cowart getting the nod over veteran Mike Pennel. Pennel has been buried on the depth chart most of the summer and played into the final minutes of the third preseason game. Given his resume, he might be a trade option. Rivers’ health is a concern that could alter the personnel on the edge. Otherwise this group has a mix of experience, youth and versatility. (AH)

Mike Pennel was a tough cut, but he was on the field late in the game Thursday night. Derek Rivers is also not included, but that is mostly due to an injury suffered against the Titans. Wise’s roster spot is no lock, but he’s one of our last players on. This position is far from set and a lot can happen over the next week. (RH)

LINEBACKER(5): Dont’a Hightower, Kyle Van Noy, Ja’Whaun Bentley, Jamie Collins, Elandon Roberts (AH)
LINEBACKER (6): Dont’a Hightower, Jamie Collins, Kyle Van Noy, Ja’Whaun Bentley, Elandon Roberts, Calvin Munson (RH)

The main cogs at linebacker remain unchanged, but the season-ending injury to special teamer Brandon King opens a roster spot. There is also the possibility that Roberts, who’s now down the depth chart a bit on the inside, might be a guy another team would be willing to trade for. The top end of this group is as solid as it’s been in a while. (AH)

Like running back, this spot feels pretty set and is pretty deep. With Brandon King’s injury against the Panthers, Munson takes his spot as it seems like he can be a big contributor on special teams. Keep an eye on Roberts and teams who need a linebacker could come calling and if the roster offer presents itself the team could certainly part ways. (RH)

CORNERBACK (6): Stephon Gilmore, J.C. Jackson, Jason McCourty, Joejuan Williams, Jonathan Jones, Duke Dawson (AH)
CORNERBACK (6): Stephon Gilmore, J.C. Jackson, Jason McCourty, Jonathan Jones, Joejuan Williams, Keion Crossen (RH)

With roster spots created by moves elsewhere, a sixth corner could very well sneak into the mix. We give the spot to the second-year second-round pick Dawson due to draft status more than anything else. It certainly wouldn’t be surprising if Keion Crossen got the nod thanks to his value in the kicking game. And as we’ve been saying all along, this group is primed for a trade with guys like Jones or Dawson as potential options to try and return something of need – such as a tight end or swing tackle. (AH)

This is one of the most competitive positions on the entire roster and it was tough to cut 2017 second-round pick Duke Dawson, but he just hasn’t shown much to this point and there are simply players better than him deserving of a spot. Like linebacker, this potentially could be a position where a team comes calling looking to make a trade. (RH)

SAFETY (5): Devin McCourty, Patrick Chung, Duron Harmon, Terrence Brooks, Nate Ebner (AH)
SAFETY (5): Devin McCourty, Patrick Chung, Duron Harmon, Terrence Brooks, Nate Ebner (RH)

Other than Chung’s indictment for felony cocaine possession, which could obviously lead to a suspension down the line, the safety position has stabilized. The big change here is Ebner earning his way back on the roster, thanks in part to the King injury. (AH)

No changes here and we feel even more confident about this following the Chung news from late last week. Ebner’s spot is also even more safe following King’s injury in last Thursday’s game. Obi Melifonwu just hasn’t done enough to prove deserving of a spot. (RH)

SPECIALISTS (3): Stephen Gostkowski, Jake Bailey, Joe Cardona (RH)
SPECIALISTS (3): Stephen Gostkowski, Jake Bailey, Joe Cardona (RH)

Gostkowski has already missed three field goals this summer, at least in part to working with a new holder in Bailey. Locked into their jobs and chemistry, Gostkowski and Cardona need to work the strong-legged Bailey into the mix for the group to succeed. Bailey won the punting job early and has a strong leg, now it’s the not-so-little things like holding and situational work that he must master. (AH)

This is what it will be come Week 1 following Ryan Allen being released last week. There do appear to be some issues with Bailey and Gostkowski on field goals, which need to be worked out over the next few weeks. (RH)

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