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Patriots Roster Breakdown: Marte Mapu Flashes Potential

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New England Patriots Marte Mapu

There are expected to be a lot of changes in the New England Patriots locker room before the 2024 season gets underway. The coaching staff has already seen significant turnover, most notably with Jerod Mayo replacing Bill Belichick as head coach. But what will the New England roster look like in the fall? Some of that will be determined by players not currently on the team. The NFL Draft and free agency will both bring new faces to Foxboro. But what about the players from 2023? Patriots Football Now will break down all potential 2024 roster players in “Patriots Roster Breakdown” before Week 1 arrives in September.

Today’s Patriots Roster Breakdown featured player: Marte Mapu.

Marte Mapu

The New England Patriots selected Marte Mapu in the third round (No. 76 overall) of the 2023 NFL Draft. Mapu played college football for the Sacramento State Hornets. Mapu was a college teammate of Dallas Cowboys All-Pro cornerback DaRon Bland. Sacramento State’s 2020 season was canceled due to COVID. Mapu took advantage of the extra year of eligibility that was granted to athletes, staying for a sixth season.

Mapu made the most of his final season in college. He was a second-team All-Big Sky Conference selection in 2021. In 2022 he was named Big Sky Defensive Player of the Year. He was named an AP first-team FCS All-American. Marte Mapu was also named Sacramento State’s 2023 Male Student-Athlete of the Year.

As an NFL rookie in 2023, Mapu had a tough time earning playing time. Although he played in 29 or more defensive snaps in three of the first five games, Mapu never played more than 18 defensive snaps in a game for the remainder of the season. He finished his first pro season with 18 tackles (12 solo), an interception, and forced a fumble. His first career pick came off of Kansas City Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes.

Opponents completed 9-of-14 passes with Mapu as the primary defender for 128 yards. However, Mapu allowed only one completion on five attempts over the final three games of the season.

Mapu played in all 17 Patriots games. He played 18% of snaps on defense and 47% on special teams.

Pro Football Focus gave Marte Mapu a 50.0 grade on defense and 71.3 on special teams.

Contract Status

Marte Mapu still has three years remaining on his rookie contract with the Patriots.

Safety Group

The safeties room in New England currently consists of Kyle Dugger, Jabrill Peppers, Marte Mapu, Jaylinn Hawkins, and Joshuah Bledsoe. They may add additional safeties in either the NFL Draft or as undrafted free agents. Depth would be the focus of any additions at this point.

Outlook for Marte Mapu

Marte Mapu’s rookie season for the New England Patriots was unspectacular but did have some bright spots. Over the final three games of the season, he had as many interceptions as passes completed against him as the primary defender. Mapu was a jack of all trades in college. He lined up in the box, slot corner, and safety. If he can cover opposing tight ends he will stay on the field more in 2024. He was given those responsibilities early as a rookie and struggled. It was encouraging to see improvement as the year went on.

Mapu carved out a role for himself as a core special teams player. The Patriots lost several such players in the offseason, so Mapu likely figures to be a central figure on the unit moving forward.

The Patriots should be encouraged by the improvement Marte Mapu showed during the 2023 season. With Jalen Mills and Adrian Phillips both gone from last season’s roster, there are additional snaps to be earned. Mapu and Jaylinn Hawkins will both be given a chance to earn significant snaps on defense. Kyle Dugger and Jabrill Peppers played nearly 100% of the defensive snaps last season. If Mapu can spell them for more rest, they should be better served.

The potential for a breakout season in 2024 exists for Marte Mapu. New England Patriots fans should be encouraged by the version of the former Sacramento State star they saw at season’s end. Mapu’s athleticism and versatility could make him a unique and effective player for the Patriots’ defense for many years moving forward. And if he regresses to his first-half performance, he can still be a very useful core special teams player.

Award-winning blogger, Dan's work has also been featured on Fox Sports, Boston Metro, Barstool Sports, MLB.com, and many other outlets.

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