4 Patriots players we can safely call busts after the 2023 season

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Chad Ryland

Maybe it's a bit harsh to stamp a label of bust on a player after only his rookie season, but Chad Ryland's performance throughout last season was hard to watch. For a team that has historically been one of the best with their special teams unit, it was almost unfathomable how poorly they have performed in recent years and how difficult they have found it to find their next long-term kicker.

It has been a constant struggle basically since Stephen Gostkowski was released to nail down the right guy for the job. Countless players have come in and spent a few days or maybe a week in New England before they were eventually released. From rookies to veteran free agents, none had panned out until they struck gold with Nick Folk.

The tenured kicker became the unlikely hero of special teams for the Patriots, putting together some of the best seasons of his career during the four years he spent with the team.

Because he started to get up there in age, and Belichick has been very concerned about that over the years, they decided to try again by drafting a kicker. They believed so much in Ryland that they traded up to take him in the fourth round last year, a decision that seems to have bitten them in hindsight.

He had a pretty good training camp and preseason, and when it was time to make roster cuts, Belichick decided to move on from Folk in favor of Ryland, which was a questionable choice from the start.

It cost them significantly, with Folk signing with the Titans and missing just one field goal and two extra points all season. On the other hand, Ryland missed nine field goals and one extra-point attempt.

HIs performance made it easy to label him a bust almost immediately, which is disappointing because the Patriots really needed a kicker. However, there is time for him to change that with hard work this offseason and build more confidence. If he can't do that, there's no reason to believe he will be back on the roster for the 2024 season.