11 – Julian Edelman – Staying
Looking at Edelman’s ACL injury with a glass half-full view, at least he was injured early in pre-season, which means that he should be ready to go come the start of 2018. He has 2 years left on his current deal and at the age of 32 (at the start of the season) one would have to think it will be his last two years as a Patriot. Slot receiver in the NFL is a thankless task, and we have all seen the effect it can have on players. Considering his value to the team, his team-friendly deal of $4m a year isn’t too hard to swallow. A lot will depend on whether he is fully recovered from the knee injury or not.
13 – Phillip Dorsett – Staying
I have given Dorsett a “Staying” but it will fully depend on if he can assimilate more into the offense. He is still on his first round rookie deal so his contract is manageable and there is an option open for next year, which I think the Patriots will most likely decline. Dorsett will be given every chance to make this roster; the ball really is in his court. With guys like Edelman, Cooks and Amendola most likely to sit out preseason games, Dorsett sits near the top of the “best of the rest” with Hogan and Britt. That being said, if he cannot produce any more than the twelve catches he had in 2017, he will be cut before the first game. For now, he will make it to camp.
14 – Brandin Cooks – Staying
The decision on Cooks is pretty obvious on the surface. All the noise coming out of New England is that the quarterback and coaching staff are delighted with his production and attitude. On the field though there have been questions by football analysts and fans alike that the connections between Brady and Cooks never look ‘quite right’. Cooks seems to be in the wrong place at times, or slightly ahead of where Brady is throwing the ball.
The Patriots paid a kings ransom for Cooks, (1st round pick) he just needs to go from being a very good receiver to an élite one. If the Patriots don’t see more progression, then there is a very small chance he could be traded in an effort to recoup something. His cap number is big this year, ($8.5m) and if he were to sign a new deal, he will likely be looking for elite receiver money similar to someone like AJ Green who is getting an average of 13m per year. Bill Belichick isn’t likely to let Cooks leave the team for free, but he also doesn’t pay players over the odds. A decision should have to be made on his future this offseason.
New England Patriots
15 – Chris Hogan – Staying
Having barely played since Week 8 due to injury, Hogan had an ignominious start to the playoffs with a combined three catches for twenty-four yards across the Divisional and Conference rounds. He then exploded back to the Chris Hogan we all know in the Super Bowl, coming up with 6 catches for 128 yards and a score. When he is in full flight, Hogan is the possession receiver for the Patriots. He will definitely be back this year, but next year might be a different scenario. His contract is up at the end of 2018 and at the age 31, will the Patriots want to give him a new deal with Edelman (32) and Amendola (33 next year)?
17 – Bernard Reedy – Staying
Despite initially being signed to the Practice Squad in November, Reedy spent some time on and off the active roster over the last few months. Reedy is not the typical practice squad member; he is a four-year veteran Kick Return specialist. Reedy seems like a high-character guy who returned to his “normal” job of driving a shuttle bus for people in wheel chairs after the Super Bowl. A job that pays only $11 an hour. On the field, he hasn’t seen much action for the Patriots but as he has a minimal salary, it makes no sense for the Patriots to get rid of him until they have to trim the roster down in August.
18 – Matthew Slater – Staying
Slater is a free agent this offseason and if you said to someone who hasn’t watched Slater play, that he is a wide receiver who has one career catch in ten seasons then they would most likely say he is the man to be cut. The reality is much different. Slater is a seven time Pro-Bowler and is the spiritual and cultural enforcer for the Patriots. In a Bill Belichick coached team, that role is critical. Slater won’t request much in terms of a contract as he is aware of his worth to the team, the Patriots will be happy to have the future Patriots Hall of Famer back for another few years.
19 – Malcolm Mitchell – Staying
Mitchell missed the whole of the 2017 season due to injury. If he can show the talent that he did in his rookie year he could be the long-term replacement for Chris Hogan as the possession receiver. He has been injury-prone in his short stint with the team but if he can overcome it he will be a key cog in the Patriots wheel going forward.
80 – Danny Amendola – Staying
What can you say about his contribution in the 2017 playoffs? 26 receptions for 348 yards, 13.4 yards per catch and two scores in three games. He is a unique talent that hopefully the Patriots will hold onto. Over his time in New England, he took numerous pay-cuts and played last year on $1.7m. Amendola clearly loves playing for the Patriots and has apparently settled well in the area. I think both sides will come to an agreement. Don’t be surprised if it’s a back-loaded 2-years $4m deal.
85 – Kenny Britt – Going
It’s not so long ago that Britt was a number one receiver in the NFL. At the end of his Patriots tenure he was largely inactive. Not great for a guy making only slightly less than Danny Amendola than in 2018. He will likely be around for camp so the Patriots can get a proper look at him but I doubt he will make the final roster as a guy starting his 11th NFL season.
81 – Cody Hollister
84 – Riley McCarron