5 Patriots players with the murkiest futures this offseason

New England Patriots v New York Giants
New England Patriots v New York Giants / Elsa/GettyImages
5 of 5

Chad Ryland

The Patriots' difficulty finding a viable kicker continued last year despite Nick Folk being on the roster. At first glance, deciding to move on from a 39-year-old for a rookie makes sense, but because Folk hadn't shown any real signs of declining performance, releasing him in favor of Chad Ryland was a significant risk that did not pay off.

It has become one of the worst roster decisions of Bill Belichick's storied career, at least in recent years.

Despite being considered one of the best of the class in 2023, it didn't take long for Ryland to start the unfortunate trend of missing critical field goals. It remained that way for the entire season, and by the end, he missed a total of nine, most of which were well under the 50+ yard mark.

Ryland became a liability, forcing the offense to go for it on fourth downs or kick punts instead of going for a field goal to keep him off the field. And although it was certainly a hit to his confidence, it was an easier decision than risking him missing another scoring attempt.

He now enters a critical offseason, and his future is on the line, even more so with the list of successful kickers entering free agency. Keeping Ryland on the roster would be beneficial since he remains on a rookie contract. But his reliability questions may not be worth retaining him just to see if he improves.

Read more from Musket Fire: