At this point in any NFL season, it's pretty clear which players on a team will likely not be back the following year. It's even more apparent when the team is in the midst of a losing season, and only a handful of the roster is performing well.
That's the case for the Patriots as they are set to take on the Denver Broncos in Week 16. With just three games left, a handful of players will need to dramatically turn things around to hopefully convince the coaching staff to forget about their season-long mediocrity or risk their chances even further of ultimately being released this upcoming offseason.
Others have found it difficult to make a real impact during their time in New England, which makes it seem they will try to find another to go to when they become a free agent in March.
This list discusses the top 5 players who will likely not be back on the Patriots in 2024 for one reason or another.
In one of the more questionable moves by Bill Belichick in the 2023 draft, trading up to draft kicker Chad Ryland is near the top of the list. The roster needed a young kicker to develop and hopefully replace Nick Folk at some point since he would be turning 39 years old during the season. But instead of taking the safe route with a rookie, Belichick put his full confidence in Ryland, releasing Folk in the initial roster cutdowns.
Since then, Folk signed with the Tennessee Titans and has been one of the most reliable kickers in the league. He's missed just one field goal, which was a 50+ yarder and two extra points, compared to Ryland, who has seven field goals through 14 games.
As if that isn't problematic enough, Ryland's missed field goals have not all been from very far out. He has missed two between 30 and 39 yards, three between 4 and 49 yards, and two from 50+ yards out.
The inconsistent performances have altered a few of the Patriots' games this season, and if he continues to be a liability, it wouldn't be surprising to see the team move on from him after just one year. It's not the ideal scenario, given how badly they have been with evaluating prospective kickers when they really need one. However, testing out a new kicker may bring more positive results than sticking with an unreliable one.