New England Patriots: Edge players on the bubble

Patriots may be be cutting some recognizable edge players
Aug 19, 2022; Foxborough, Massachusetts, USA;New England Patriots linebacker Anfernee Jennings (58)
Aug 19, 2022; Foxborough, Massachusetts, USA;New England Patriots linebacker Anfernee Jennings (58) / Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports

This is the first in a series of articles on players on the New England Patriots roster bubble who may or may not be on the roster when the final 53-man roster is submitted to the NFL.

A note of caution is that even the final roster submission is subject to change, as Patriot Nation has learned on numerous occasions.

The New England Patriots are strong on defense. It's their best side of the field by far. In addition, the edge position is their best unit on the defense. Nonetheless, there are players on the roster at the edge position, as at every position, who are likely surplus to requirements and may go before the final cutdown before the 2023 season.

Beginning with the edge position, defensive ends/DEs and outside linebackers on defense make some sense. As noted, it's the New England Patriots' strongest position, bar none, and the one most likely to lead them to a playoff berth. But before embarking on who's on the bubble, let's take a quick look at the unit and determine who's likely a lock to make the team.

New England Patriots lock players at the edge, defensive end and outside linebacker

Several players on the Patriots' roster are iron-clad locks to make the team at the edge position. This group starts with the Patriots' best defensive player and player, period, Matt Judon.

Recently given a contract bump, Judon is worth every penny. His opposite on the right side of the defense is the emerging Josh Uche.

Uche had a breakout third season in 2022 with 11.5 sacks. Before that, he had been nearly invisible. Nonetheless, if the 2022 Uche shows up, these bookend outside linebackers who play primarily on their feet is about as good as it gets in the NFL.

This is a "play to get paid" year for Uche, who's entering his fourth season after being drafted in the second round in 2020. Expect a solid season, if not a double-digit-sack one, in 2023.

Adding to Judon and Uche, are defensive ends Dietrich Wise Jr., DE/edge, highly touted rookie second-round pick, Keion White, and the recently re-signed Trey Flowers. Wise and White are roster locks, while Flowers is a likely addition. Daniel Ekuale, a player with some pass-rush potential, may stick as an additional defensive end.

New England Patriots' edge bubble players

Now, onto the players on the bubble. The most prominent name here is Anfernee Jennings, a third-round pick from 2020. Jennings has done little since achieving his lofty draft status.

While a turnaround a la Uche is possible, the likelihood is that Jennings, who has a mere 47 tackles with 1.5 sacks in his three years with the Patriots (he missed 2021 with an injury), will be released. His third-round draft status rather than his play is his best recommendation to stay on.

Another roster bubble player who had a brief hold-out-type situation this season is Lawrence Guy Sr. Guy has been a solid run-stopper for the Patriots, but at 33 years old, he's not as active, and the Patriots can save almost three million dollars on the cap if he's let go. A trade would make sense for Guy.

Others on the bubble include another high draft pick, Ronnie Perkins, a 2021 third-round pick who's been completely invisible with no stats whatsoever in two years. If Perkins makes the team, it will be due to his lofty draft status and nothing else.

Others on the bubble include Sam Roberts, a defensive end drafted in the seventh round in 2021, and Jeremiah Pharms Jr., an undrafted free-agent defensive lineman signed last year. Both will be practice squad candidates, most likely, and only injuries will get them on the field in a regular season game.

Jennings and Perkins were third-round picks, which mitigates in their favor. Bill Belichick has to admit major draft gaffes if he releases these players. He may not. Has he ever admitted a mistake? Nevertheless, they deserve to be on the bubble, and by rights, should probably be released.

Those are the players at DE and Edge who may very well be on the bubble for the New England Patriots in 2023. Do you agree with this list? If not, who do you think is on the bubble at the edge, we'd like to hear.