4 Patriots already on the chopping block before OTAs

New England Patriots v Pittsburgh Steelers
New England Patriots v Pittsburgh Steelers / Cooper Neill/GettyImages
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4 Patriots already on the chopping block before OTAs

Chad Ryland

It was a rough rookie season for Chad Ryland last year, who earned Belichick's trust early on as he cut Nick Folk to keep the young kicker on the roster. It was a questionable decision given how well the veteran had performed during his time with the Patriots, but Ryland had looked pretty good during the summer to potentially have won the job.

Unfortunately, whatever Belichick saw in him never really saw the light of day during the season.

Special teams has always been a bright spot for the Patriots during the Belichick tenure. They set trends with the unit and made teams around the league more aware of how important it was to have a rock solid third unit on your team.

They were constant proof that special teams can single-handedly win or lose your games, and they were the latest example of that during the 2023 season, a lot of which fell on Ryland's shoulders.

Because the offense had an aversion to the end zone, they heavily relied on field goals to get some points on the board. That put a lot of pressure on the rookie to deliver, and although he only missed one extra point on the year, he missed nine total field goals through 17 games.

To make matters worse, he missed from nearly every measure: two from 30-39 yards, five from 40-49 yards, and two from 50+ yards. It became such an issue that Belichick started having the offense go for it on fourth and long simply because he couldn't rely on Ryland to make a successful kick.

He will enter the 2024 training camp fighting to keep his job, even more so after an undrafted free-agent kicker was invited to try out for the team.