Though this stage of the offseason typically has a shortage of intriguing storylines, that doesn’t seem to apply to the New England Patriots, who’ve been providing fans with all sorts of headline-stealing content leading up to training camp.
From the rumored quarterback competition between Cam Newton and Mac Jones, to struggling receiver N’Keal Harry requesting a trade through his agent, to Stephon Gilmore’s contract situation, fans in New England should be entertained up until the start of the 2021 regular season on Sept. 12.
In the meantime, however, training camp is set to get underway in a couple weeks, and the Patriots still have a myriad of burning roster question marks. Who will emerge as the No. 1 receiver?
What will the defensive line rotation look like after it was overhauled in free agency?
For now, though, let’s focus on which players will face an uphill battle at camp.
These three Patriots players better come to play at training camp.
3. Joejuan Williams
Joejuan Williams’ inclusion on this list is under the assumption that the Patriots will ultimately reach an agreement on a contract extension with Stephon Gilmore. If Gilmore ends up getting traded, Williams will obviously have a role to play in the secondary next season.
However, let’s assume Gilmore sticks around. In that scenario, Williams will need to perform exceptionally at training camp to lock down a spot on the 53-man roster. While we don’t doubt Williams’ ability, the Patriots (with Gilmore in the picture) are absolutely loaded at cornerback.
The Patriots stacked CB room could spell doom for Joejuan Williams.
The way we see it, Gilmore, JC Jackson, the underrated Jonathan Jones, and Jalen Mills are all ahead of Williams in the pecking order. In other words, Williams will go head-to-head against Myles Bryant, whom the Patriots are very high on, for the fifth and final spot.
A second-round pick in 2019, Williams logged a lousy 17% snap share last year, which is unfortunate considering his overall upside. Despite that, the 23-year-old corner might need a Gilmore trade or an injury to ensure himself a spot on the final roster.
That, of course, could change if Williams sticks out at training camp and gives the Patriots no other choice but to keep him around. If not, the Vanderbilt product, assuming he isn’t totally released, could start the year on the practice squad.