The New England Patriots cut 19 players yesterday, to get their roster down to 53. There weren’t many surprises to note, as everything has really gone according to plan throughout this offseason. But there is always time to discuss and analyze the moves Bill Belichick and company make, so here are 10 thoughts on those cuts:
1. Josh Boyce gone
It was expected, but it is still weird to think the Patriots just cut a talented fourth-round draft pick. However Boyce just didn’t show enough this preseason to leap over Kenbrell Thompkins on the depth chart, which is why the Pats cut him. Boyce has a lot of talent, and I am sure he will find work elsewhere. It simply didn’t work out in Foxboro.
2. Chris White over Steve Beauharnais
The biggest depth question mark on this team resides among the linebackers, where the Patriots are extremely thin right now (behind a very good starting group). There were a few linebackers fighting to earn a spot on this roster, and back up the starting trio, including Steve Beauharnais, and Chris White. Beauharnais didn’t have a great preseason, but I thought New England would keep him, simply because they needed the depth. But evidently the team liked what they saw out of White more, so he made the roster, along with Darius Fleming, who had an impressive preseason.
3. Ryan Mallett stays
In what really is an unsurprising move (or non-move), the Patriots decided to keep three quarterbacks on the roster for 2014. Jimmy Garoppolo has been great this preseason, and he will definitely be the quarterback of the future, but the Pats still need Ryan Mallett. He is more experienced, he has the better arm, and he knows this offense better than Garoppolo does.
4. Jerel Worthy doesn’t make cut
When defensive tackle Tommy Kelly was released, a lot of people thought Jerel Worthy could possibly play his way onto this roster. The Pats could use the extra depth, and Worthy is a former second-round draft pick, so we know he has talent. But Worthy didn’t take advantage of this opportunity, playing just “okay” in the preseason, and losing out on a roster spot. However this move does speak to how the Patriots view their current defensive tackle situation, as since they are comfortable letting Worthy go, they must like what they have in the middle.
5. No long-snapper
You know your team is pretty good when one of the biggest stories on cut-day is the long-snapper getting released. But it is interesting to see New England let Danny Aiken go, especially after he beat out Tyler Ott early in training camp. The Pats will now either go with Rob Ninkovich as the long-snapper, or target someone else to replace Aiken.
6. Brandon Bolden survives
After Bolden didn’t dress for the Pats in the last two preseason games, I expected him to get cut yesterday. But apparently the Patriots like what they have in Bolden, and still viewed him as the best possible option for that fourth running back spot. It also helps that Bolden is a valuable asset on special-teams, which is something Jonas Gray (who was in competition to beat out Bolden) doesn’t have.
7. Safety rotation
New England is keeping Duron Harmon, Patrick Chung, and Tavon Wilson on it’s initial 53-man roster, which probably means they will be rotating in a few guys at the strong safety spot to start the year. If Chung or Wilson had been released, that might have meant they had decided to go with Harmon at the second safety spot, but by keeping all three, it’s obvious they will be running a rotation.
8. Defensive end depth
Similar to last year, the depth at defensive end looks to be pretty bad to start the 2014 season. Rob Ninkovich and Chandler Jones were forced to play over 95% of the defensive snaps in 2013, and they will most likely be forced to do the same this year. Michael Buchanan and Zach Moore are both on the final roster, but they don’t have enough talent to give Ninkovich and Jones long rest periods. I do however like what I have seen in Moore, especially for the future. He could potentially develop into a very good pass rusher.
9. Offensive line
With Logan Mankins gone, it is not surprising to see the Patriots (initially) carry 10 offensive lineman on the roster. They need as much depth as possible to help ease the pain of Mankins’ absence, so even if the player is pretty bad (Barker, Devey), at least they have some emergency depth. One of the top storylines to start the year will be how New England’s offensive line looks. I think Marcus Cannon should start at left guard, with Ryan Wendell at center, and Dan Connolly at right guard. But we won’t know until one week from today, when the Patriots open up the regular season in Miami. The Pats also released Jon Halapio, who was a sixth-round draft choice back in May. Sometimes draft selections just don’t work out, and the good coaches will recognize that, and cut bait.
10. Expect more moves
As many have pointed out, the Patriots are not done making moves. Bill Belichick loves to tinker with his roster at this time, trying to get certain players on the practice squad, and maybe add a surprise player to the 53-man roster. Stay tuned to see what he has in store for us next.