With the New England Patriots sitting at 2-8 there is little hope of a miraculous run towards the 2023 playoff picture. Fans are already looking forward to the 2024 NFL Draft, and possible free agent targets. But to determine what next year’s team needs, it is important to first see what they have.
This is a first look at the 2024 New England Patriots roster, starting with the offense. Miguel Benzan, better known to the X community as @patscap, predicts the Patriots will sign practice squad players to future contracts. Thus, current practice squad players are included here. This roster includes players under the team’s control for next season. Hopefully this makes it easier to predict positions the Patriots should target to improve. Do not mistake this for a prediction or projection, it is simply where things stand of of right now.
And with that, a first look at the 2024 New England Patriots offense (* is a practice squad player, projected to sign a future contract):
Mac Jones, Bailey Zappe, Malik Cunningham*
The decision of whether or not to move on from Mac Jones (perhaps this entire room) will largely shape the future of the team. New England should be in excellent position to draft Jones’ successor, if they choose to do so. It is possible they draft a quarterback, but keep Mac Jones around, as he is still on his rookie contract. At the least, Jones is a capable backup.
Bailey Zappe could get a chance to prove he belongs in the homestretch of this season. Otherwise, he will once again be fighting for a roster spot next season. Malik Cunningham has yet to show anything in an actual game. He flashed in preseason and is reported to look good in practice. Cunningham remains a member of the practice squad for now. Will Grier is the only 2023 QB not currently set to return. Even if these three all return in 2024, somebody new will be joining them in training camp.
— NFL (@NFL) November 5, 2023
Running Backs (4)
Rhamondre Stevenson, JaMycal Hasty, Kevin Harris*, Patrick Taylor*
After a slow start, Rhamondre Stevenson has been heating up. He ran for 175 yards over the past two games. Stevenson will return to Foxboro as RB1 in 2024, barring something unforeseen. However, Ezekiel Elliott is set to hit free agency, leaving a void in the Patriots backfield.
JaMycal Hasty was signed to the 53-man roster following the Indianapolis game, so he has yet to play in a game for New England. Hasty could fill the third-down receiving back role that the Patriots successfully employed for so long under Bill Belichick. Kevin Harris and Patrick Taylor are both on the practice squad. Harris was a 2022 draft pick by the Patriots. Taylor was signed to the practice squad after being released by Green Bay earlier this season. Both should get an opportunity to replace Elliott, though it is likely somebody else is added to this group.
— NFL (@NFL) November 5, 2023
Wide Receivers (6)
JuJu Smith-Schuster, DeVante Parker, Demario Douglas, Tyquan Thornton, Kayshon Boutte, T.J. Luther*
Kendrick Bourne and Jalen Reagor head to free agency. Both Smith-Schuster and Parker, based on their salary-to-production ratio, are candidates to be cut or traded before next season. New England will try to renegotiate their current deals at the very least. Miguel Benzan has looked at various salary cap scenarios for both JuJu Smith-Schuster and DeVante Parker.
Demario Douglas is the lone lock to be back from the wide receiver room. He has been impressive as a rookie and is starting to see more targets. That trend should continue with Bourne on IR. Regardless of who the 2024 Patriots QB will be, Douglas will be a favorite target.
Thornton and Boutte are young players with upside. Both have spent time in the coaching staff’s doghouse. Thornton has also had trouble staying healthy. As a 2022 second-round pick, it is tough to give up on him this quickly. Boutte is fighting for snaps in 2023 as a rookie. He has enough potential to be worth keeping around. T.J. Luther is currently on the practice squad. He has yet to appear in an NFL game.
.@popshotta3 with the SPIN and SPEED!
— New England Patriots (@Patriots) October 1, 2023
Tight Ends (1)
All three of the tight ends on the New England Patriots 53-man roster are set to become free agents after the season: Hunter Henry, Mike Gesicki, and Pharaoh Brown. That leaves practice squad tight end Matt Sokol as the sole returning TE in 2024. Obviously, this is a position that will need to be addressed in a meaningful way. It appears the Patriots prefer having a well-rounded tight end (Henry), a pass-catcher (Gesicki), and a blocker (Brown). It will be difficult to try and replace all these roles, especially since the current group might represent the best free agent option for each role.
— NFL (@NFL) October 22, 2023
Offensive Tackles (4)
Calvin Anderson, Vederian Lowe, Conor McDermott*, Andrew Stueber*
This unit is more notable for who is not. here. LT Trent Brown and RT Mike Onwenu are set to hit free agency, and it is far from a safe bet either returns to Foxboro. If that’s the case, help is badly needed. Calvin Anderson’s NFL future is undetermined. He missed most of training camp with an undisclosed illness and is back on injured reserve now with an undisclosed illness. He was not effective when he was active. Vederian Lowe has started five games this season. If he is in the starting lineup next season, there will need to be some major improvements to his play.
Conor McDermott is currently on the practice squad but has been decent when in at tackle this season. He is clearly more comfortable (and effective) at right tackle. It is not unreasonable to see him return in a reserve role. Stueber, also on the practice squad, was a seventh-round pick out of Michigan in 2022, yet to make his NFL debut. Sidy Sow (see below) can play tackle as well, though has looked more comfortable playing guard.
Interior Offensive Linemen (7)
David Andrews, Cole Strange, Sidy Sow, Atonio Mafi, Jake Andrews, James Ferentz*, Kody Russey*
This group is the most stable on the entire New England Patriots roster. It is easy to imagine this entire unit returning intact, especially the five players currently on the 53-man roster. David Andrews, Strange and Sow blocked very well in the run game against Indianapolis last game. Pass blocking is not as strong from this group, but hopefully spending more time together for the rest of the season will help. Gaining familiarity with each other should pay dividends moving forward.
The unit is far from perfect, but there are too many holes on the roster elsewhere to spend draft capital, or salary cap space on attempts to upgrade. That doesn’t mean New England won’t try and upgrade, but it should not be the focus. Rookies Atonio Mafi and Jake Andrews have the opportunity to continue learning as understudies while they wait their opportunities.