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Predicting the New England Patriots 53-Man Roster

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New England Patriots defensive tackle Davon Godchaux (92) celebrates with line backer Jahlani Tavai (48) after a stop during the second half an NFL football game against the Washington Commanders on Sunday, Nov. 5, 2023, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Greg M. Cooper)

With a handful of moves following their rookie minicamp, the New England Patriots filled their 90-man offseason roster. Although there will likely be more maneuvering before Week 1 arrives, the team’s 2024 roster is beginning to come into focus. While trades and free agent signings are not out of the question (not to mention injuries and waiver claims) predicting the 53-man roster in September here is based on their 90-man roster today.

There are always a few surprise cuts and this projection includes some minor ones. All eight draft picks made their way onto the original projection, along with a UDFA. Cole Strange is not listed. My current projection is that the left guard begins the season on IR or the PUP list, though hopefully, a medical update at some point proves me wrong.

Also Read: Meet the New England Patriots 90-Man Roster (Plus One)

A first crack at pairing down the current crop of roster candidates to 53 (players are listed alphabetically in each group):

Quarterbacks (3)

Jacoby Brissett
Drake Maye
Joe Milton III

Bailey Zappe is the odd man out in this unit. New England would probably love to sneak Milton onto the practice squad and save a roster spot. They risk losing him altogether by trying to do so, however. Zappe is still an NFL-caliber QB, even if he’s not a starting-caliber QB. If he has an excellent training camp it seems more likely the Patriots trade him for a draft pick instead of squeezing him onto the roster. Brissett and Maye are both roster locks.

Running Backs (2)

Antonio Gibson
Rhamondre Stevenson

Two running backs make the initial 53-man roster, the same as in 2022 (Stevenson and Ezekiel Elliott). The battle for the third spot behind Stevenson and Gibson will be decided in preseason. Kevin Harris, JaMycal Hasty, Deshaun Fenwick, and Terrell Jennings will all get an opportunity to impress in training camp. That third back could find their way onto the roster if New England is nervous about losing them on waivers. Performance will dictate whether a third spot will be warranted right out of the gate.

Wide Receivers (7)

Javon Baker
Kendrick Bourne
DeMario Douglas
K.J. Osborn
Ja’Lynn Polk
Jalen Reagor (KR)
Tyquan Thornton

There are four secure spots in the wide receiver room. Those belong to Bourne, Douglas, Polk, and Baker. The status of Kayshon Boutte remains unclear due to his gambling arrest. The NFL has yet to impose any discipline, though that doesn’t mean they won’t. JuJu Smith-Schuster is among the odd men out here. Like Bailey Zappe, the hope would be that he shows enough in the preseason to entice a trade. Otherwise, he will fight with Osborn, Thornton, and Boutte for a roster spot. Reagor makes the squad thanks to his special teams contributions as a returner.

Tight Ends (3)

Jaheim Bell
Hunter Henry
Austin Hooper

Signing Mitchell Wilcox just before the draft prevented New England from needing to reach for a tight end in the draft. But when Jaheim Bell was still available in Round 7 they pounced. The Patriots good fortune appears to have squeezed Wilcox out of a locker spot. UDFA Jacob Warren and returnee La’Michael Pettway are both practice squad candidates if they fail to make the 53. This group appears one of the easier to project on the roster, barring something unforeseen happening.

Offensive Line (9)

David Andrews
Nick Leverett
Atonio Mafi
Chukwuma Okorafor
Mike Onwenu
Layden Robinson
Sidy Sow
Charles Turner III
Caeden Wallace

As stated above, Cole Strange is absent because his availability is unknown. If Strange is available, he will have a roster spot. There are 17 offensive linemen on the 90-man roster. Versatility is key to securing a reserve role. Can Tyrone Wheatley Jr. play both guard and tackle? It could give him an edge over tackle-only players like Calvin Anderson and Vederian Lowe. Six players are roster locks: David Andrews, Mike Onwenu, Sidy Sow, Chukwuma Okorafor, and rookies Caeden Wallace and Layden Robinson. That leaves 11 bodies battling for 3-5 openings. Jake Andrews, a fourth-round pick in 2022, is among the ‘surprise’ cuts here. It will be interesting to see if Robinson is given any snaps at center in the preseason, as it would save them the need to carry Turner (or Jake Andrews).

Defensive Line (7)

Christian Barmore
Daniel Ekuale
Devon Godchaux
Jeremiah Pharms Jr.
Armon Watts
Keion White
Deatrich Wise Jr.

Pharms is competing with Sam Roberts, Trysten Hill, Will Bradley-King, and John Morgan III for the final spot here. New England keeping six here and adding an extra player elsewhere is also within reason. Barmore, Godchaux, Watts, White, and Wise are all safe bets to be on the initial 53-man roster for the New England Patriots. Daniel Ekuale needs to show he is back to full strength after missing nearly all of the 2023 season due to injury.

Linebackers (7)

Ja’Whaun Bentley
Anfernee Jennings
Matthew Judon
Sione Takitaki
Jahlani Tavai
Joshua Uche
Oshane Ximines

This is nearly the same group that broke camp in 2023. Judon, Jennings, and Uche will hold down the edge. Bentley and Tavai both return. The only changes are Sione Takitaki and Oshane Ximines replacing Mack Wilson Sr. and Chris Board. Both Wilson and Board were core special teams players last season. The expectation will be for the newcomers to contribute there too. Board played exclusively on special teams but Ximines should see some defensive snaps. Raekwon McMillan is the odd man out for now. But if he can stay healthy throughout preseason, McMillan could challenge for the roster spot. Keep an eye on UDFA Jontrey Hunter as well.

Cornerbacks (7)

Alex Austin
Marcellas Dial Jr.
Christian Gonzalez
Jonathan Jones
Marcus Jones (PR)
Shaun Wade
Marco Wilson

Eliot Wolf dipping into the free agent pool to add veteran depth here could still happen. Azizi Hearn and Isaiah Bolden are cut in this scenario. So are UDFAs Mikey Victor and Kaleb Ford-Dement. Only Christian Gonzalez or Jonathan Jones would be a huge shock if they were cut, and neither is getting cut. Beyond that, there will be plenty of competition for the remaining spots. Special teams contributions will factor into which backups stick around. Marcus Jones returns from injury, while Alex Austin and Marco Wilson prepare for their first full seasons in New England.

Safeties (4)

Kyle Dugger
Jaylinn Hawkins
Marte Mapu
Jabrill Peppers

Dugger and Peppers return from 2023 when both players were on the field nearly 100% of the time. Marte Mapu was listed as a linebacker last year but should see more playing time as a safety in 2024. Mapu has the athleticism to contribute. Now it’s up to DeMarcus Covington and Brian Belichick to determine the best way to utilize him. Hawkins came over from the Chargers in free agency and rounds out this crew. Joshuah Bledsoe and UDFA Dell Pettus fail to make the 53-man roster. Either could be added to the practice squad.

Special Teams (4)

Bryce Baringer (P)
Joe Cardona (LS)
Chad Ryland (K)
Brenden Schooler (ST)

Brenden Schooler will not be the New England Patriots only core special teams player. However, the others (Ximines, Mapu, etc) are listed at other positions above. Schooler is unlikely to play any safety but can serve as an emergency backup. Baringer is solidified to return as the Patriots punter. Joe Cardona is secure in his role as well. The lone competition here will be between placekickers Chad Ryland and Joey Slye. The incumbent gets the nod for now.

There will be updated projections as Week 1 against the Cincinnati Bengals approaches. For now, this is a best guess at who will be on the New England Patriots initial 53-man roster.

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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