The New England Patriots have now filled out their 90-man roster after signing a pair of undrafted free agents yesterday in wide receiver Mark Harrison and kicker David Ruffer, according to ESPN Boston’s Field Yates. The Patriots now have two kickers and two punters, as Ruffer joins star K Stephen Gostkowski with former Louisiana Tech star Ray Allen potentially providing some competition to steady punter Zoltan Mesko, who is in the final year of his contract.
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While I don’t anticipate either player losing their gigs, it’s hard to believe that the Patriots just signed Ruffer and Allen without a purpose. Gostkowski, in my opinion, has the best shot at holding onto his job, because Ruffer isn’t as good of a player as Allen, and I actually think Gostkowski is a better player than Mesko. I’m probably going to get a lot of hate for that statement, but they are both great players per their respective positions- no harm in choosing Mesko over Gostkowski either. Anyway, while Mesko’s issue is the fact that he has a one-year deal, Gostkowski’s issue is the amount of money he is set to make. A little competition never hurt anyone, and I am certain that we’ll be seeing competition going on with at least one of those two positions in training camp. Bill Belichick and the Patriots are cutthroat and would be willing to make a change to save some coin, but I would think that either Ruffer or Allen would have to show a lot to usurp either of those two stalwart incumbents.
Ruffer transferred to Notre Dame in college and was a quality kicker overall for the Irish. I have enormous doubts about him beating out Gostkowski, though, and my main reason for believing Mesko’s job is more in doubt is because of the talent gap. Allen was a back-to-back Ray Guy winner at La. Tech and an incredible punter, whereas Ruffer was merely “good” at Notre Dame. I don’t expect either player to lose their jobs, but Mesko, as an expiring contract, will definitely see competition. Also, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Allen stashed on the practice squad, but that’s just wild speculation on my part.
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