Breaking down every position of the Patriots’ initial 53-man roster

FOXBOROUGH, MASSACHUSETTS - JANUARY 02: Mac Jones #10 of the New England Patriots looks on before the game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at Gillette Stadium on January 02, 2022 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Malhotra/Getty Images)
FOXBOROUGH, MASSACHUSETTS - JANUARY 02: Mac Jones #10 of the New England Patriots looks on before the game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at Gillette Stadium on January 02, 2022 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Malhotra/Getty Images) /

All across the NFL on Tuesday, teams scrambled to figure out which players to choose when building their final 53-man roster for the 2022 season.  The Patriots, in their usual fashion, slowly rolled out who they were releasing and waiving, not announcing their official roster until three hours past the deadline.

As the names of those cut from the team trickled out, not many surprises were announced. But one trend was very clear; the Patriots were going all in on the youth movement this season.

Looking at who did and did not make the Patriots 2022 roster

Quarterbacks (3): Mac Jones, Brian Hoyer, Bailey Zappe

OUT:  None

The least shocking part of the day was when no quarterbacks were set to leave New England. Because Jarrett Stidham had already been dealt to the Raiders some weeks ago, heading into the season with three quarterbacks on the roster was the best way to go for the Patriots.

Mac Jones will continue as the starter, with Brian Hoyer as his main backup and mentor. Bailey Zappe secured a spot with his preseason performance and has the potential to be a valuable backup whenever Hoyer decides to move on from the game.

Running back (4): Damien Harris, Ty Montgomery, Rhamondre Stevenson, Pierre Strong Jr.

OUT: Kevin Harris, J.J. Taylor

Over the past few seasons, the Patriots have carried four running backs during a season, making the four chosen to stay this year not a surprise.

However, when it was announced Kevin Harris would be waived, it was in fact a shock. After his impressive performance in last week’s game in Las Vegas, it was thought he had a good chance to make the team. But with the Patriots moving on from not only him but also J.J. Taylor, it may be an indication that Ty Montgomery’s ankle injury is not as severe as previously thought.

It’s possible either Harris or Taylor return as part of the practice squad in general, but especially if Montgomery will need to miss time. If he does need to miss some time, his placement on IR won’t be announced until Wednesday at the earliest. Because of the rules in the NFL, Montgomery couldn’t be placed on IR before tomorrow, or else his season would be over.

As they continue with Damien Harris and Rhamondre Stevenson, Pierre Strong Jr. adds a dynamic element that the others have yet to show. Strong is a proven talent in the passing game, which opened up more after James White announced his retirement.  Although Stevenson has shown to have worked on his performance this offseason, Strong could make an instant impact when given the chance.

Wide receiver (5): Nelson Agholor, Kendrick Bourne, Jakobi Meyers, DeVante Parker, Tyquan Thornton

OUT: Josh Hammond, Lil’Jordan Humphrey, Tre Nixon, Kristian Wilkerson

With so much depth at the receiver position for the first time in years, it was one of the more interesting positions on the team to watch on cutdown day.  Outside of the obvious names to make the team, there was a lot of chatter regarding who would be the last one or two players added. Rookie Tyquan Thornton got the nod, but because of his clavicle injury, he is likely to be placed on IR as soon as Wednesday.

That gives the Patriots the option to bring back one of the players they cut to play in Thornton’s absence.  Lil’Jordan Humphrey became a favorite throughout camp, but he was never able to break out of working with the second-team offense in practices and games. The same could be said about josh Hammond and Tre Nixon, but Humphrey seemingly made a bigger impact overall.

Shockingly, Kristian Wilkerson was placed on IR, ending his season due to a concussion. This could be seen as a procedural move, as the Patriots can work out an injury settlement with him which would allow him to play at some point this year. That could be continuing as a Patriot or elsewhere in the league.

Don’t be surprised to see some more changes to this list throughout the week.

Tight end (2): Hunter Henry, Jonnu Smith

OUT: Devin Asiasi, Matt Sokol

After Dalton Keene was let go over the weekend, it was assumed that fellow 2020 draftee, Devin Asiasi, would not be too far behind.

Both Keene and Asiasi failed to remain healthy and get on the field during their first two seasons in the NFL. With Hunter Henry and Jonnu Smith taking the number one and two spots, their chances of making enough of an impact to make the team lessened.

Matt Sokol was a random signing this off-season and didn’t show a whole lot throughout the summer. But he may make his way back to the practice squad this week, particularly because of his solid blocking skills.

Another interesting twist would be seeing the return of Lil’Jordan Humphrey as a tight end. Bill Belichick had referred to him as “a little tight end-ish” when speaking to the media, leading many to believe that would be his way on the team. Given they are only carrying three on the roster, this remains a possibility.

Offensive line (8): David Andrews, Trent Brown, Yodny Cajuste, Justin Herron, Chasen Hines, Mike Onwenu, Cole Strange, Isaiah Wynn

OUT: Drew Desjarlais, Yasir Durant, James Ferentz, Arlington Hambright, Bill Murray, Kody Russey, William Sherman

The most glaring issue the Patriots face this season is their lack of consistency and overall uneasiness surrounding the offensive line. As the most concerning part of the team, it seems likely more changes will be made in the coming days, especially since historically Belichick doesn’t carry so few o-line players into the season.

Not many changes were made with the releases, however, with Chasen Hines ending up as the newest piece added to the line. He showed his strength and athleticism during practices and games. And was productive in both the run and passing game, both of which needed to be upgraded.

Expect some of those released to get the call to return to the practice squad this week, as most will likely clear waivers. Keep an eye out for Kody Russey, who had stood out in camp and appeared to just miss securing a roster spot.

Defensive line (7): Christian Barmore, Carl Davis, Lawrence Guy, Davon Godchaux, Sam Roberts, Deatrich Wise

OUT: Henry Anderson, DT Daniel Ekuale (suspended), Jeremiah Pharms Jr., LaBryan Ray

It was a point of emphasis coming out of the draft that New England wanted to pursue building a young, aggressive, and faster team. That became clearer on Tuesday when seeing the players they chose to keep for the team.

The defense has been the oldest part of the team for a few years, but that changes this upcoming season. Christian Barmore has had a significant training camp this year and has proven to be a force on the line. While Sam Roberts showed to be a naturally physical player who brings the quickness the defense has so badly needed.

Henry Anderson was also placed on IR, ending his season as well unless an injury settlement is made and Daniel Ekuale will be suspended for the first two games of the season.

Linebacker/EDGE (8): Ja’Whaun Bentley, Matt Judon, Anfernee Jennings, Raekwon McMillan, DaMarcus Mitchell, Jahlani Tavai, Josh Uche, Mack Wilson

OUT: Harvey Langi, Cameron McGrone, Nate Wieland

The new and improved linebacker/EDGE core has seen a massive upgrade this season with youth and speed leading the way.

With Dont’a Hightower, Jamie Collins, and Kyle Van Noy not returning this year, the Patriots needed to revamp their entire philosophy to keep up with the ever-changing game in the NFL.

Mack Wilson and Raekwon McMillan demonstrated exactly what the coaching staff has said they wanted the defense to look like. From their speed and athleticism to their ease in making big plays, the two are already said to have earned a significant role in the defense for the 2022 season.

With the talent the LB/EDGE players contain, the team is in much better hands this season overcoming some of their biggest weaknesses. The group has shown to make opposing quarterbacks’ jobs more difficult and has done a good job in stopping the run.

If this group can rely on the skills they showed in training camp and build upon that, the defense may be the best side of the ball for the Patriots going forward.

Cornerback (6): Myles Bryant, Jack Jones, Jonathan Jones, Marcus Jones, Jalen Mills, Shaun Wade

OUT: Terrance Mitchell

Another position with a lot of depth to test throughout training camp left Belichick with many young players to choose from on Tuesday.  The youth movement continues amongst the cornerbacks, as Jack Jones, Marcus Jones, and Shaun Wade all impressed with their performances enough to make the final roster.

Both Jones rookies flashed during the preseason and became roster locks fairly quickly. Their versatility and potential made them good additions to a more questionable part of the team, as they’re continuing to look for a new elite shut-down corner.

Terrance Mitchell had begun camp as a starter across from Jalen Mills, but Shaun Wade made a bigger impression during the last couple of weeks of practices. His size and playmaking made him a good keeper for the group, as most of the corners are considered “undersized” for their positions.

Safety (5): Joshuah Bledsoe, Kyle Dugger, Devin McCourty, Jabrill Peppers, Adrian Phillips

OUT: Brad Hawkins

Not a whole lot of shock and awe from the safeties that made the team, other than second-year player Joshuah Bledsoe finishing off his noteworthy summer by making the final roster.

Bledsoe missed his rookie season when placed on IR, but made an impression with the team regardless. He continued on that track during training camp, displaying versatility in playing almost anywhere in the secondary while also contributing on special teams.

Special teams (6): Jake Bailey, Joe Cardona, Cody Davis, Nick Folk, Brendan Schooler, Matthew Slater

OUT: Justin Bethel, Tristan Vizcaino

Probably one of the more shocking cuts of the day came when it was announced the Patriots were releasing special teams standout Justin Bethel.

During his three seasons in New England, Bethel was as consistent as they come and helped maintain the nearly impeccable special teams the Patriots are known for. It’s possible he will still return to the team, even after his assumed “goodbye” post on Instagram. But more moves will need to be done in order for that to happen.

Bethel’s departure seemed to open the door for undrafted player Brendan Schooler. He’s been a standout throughout training camp as he played fast and aggressive and demonstrated abilities to play in all parts of special teams units.