Patriots hope to develop discarded players for 2024 season

New England Patriots CB Alex Austin (28) intercepts a pass intended for Bills TE Dawson Knox.
New England Patriots CB Alex Austin (28) intercepts a pass intended for Bills TE Dawson Knox. / Timothy T Ludwig/GettyImages
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Josh Allen thought Dawson Knox was open. The Buffalo Bill tight end had a step on New England Patriots linebacker/safety/hybrid Marte Mapu, so Allen took a shot down the left sideline.

Knox almost got the ball, but Alex Austin swooped in from practically out of nowhere and picked off the pass. Austin peeled off his assignment and did a 180-degree loop to come away with the turnover. It’s a play that should be in contention for the Patriots' best defensive play of the season.

If you at any point this season wondered who that guy is wearing #28 for the Patriots, you know his name now.

The Houston Texans released the former Bills' seventh-round selection on November 1. The very next day, New England signed the former Oregon State product. If Austin keeps up his play, he may have found an NFL home.

The Patriots have been busy lately scouring the league for potential. With the season winding down, they’ve added some young players to see if they can develop in New England’s system.

The New England Patriots are always looking for talent. Competition for 2024 is already under way

Some of these players weren’t drafted. Some are professional nomads, going from franchise to franchise, hoping to find a career and a city/town to finally call home. None of them are sure things.

All they want is a chance to prove their worth. With the Patriots, they are getting just that. If all goes well, we might hear one or two of their names in Gillette Stadium on Sundays in 2024.

Austin might be the closest to a sure bet for next season. Will anyone else join him?

CB Breon Borders

Everybody makes mistakes. Having an error in judgment (or two) won’t scare off the New England Patriots. So, when injuries were thinning out the cornerback position, the Patriots signed Breon Borders to the practice squad the moment he finished his suspension.

The NFL suspended Borders for two games for testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs. At the time, he was on the Atlanta Falcons. Two months later, the Falcons released Borders. After being reinstated, New England signed Borders to the practice squad. Borders was elevated to the active roster in December but has yet to play.

Experience isn’t a problem. Borders has played for six teams and has been with eight organizations. He has played in 32 games, started six, and has an interception. For emergency depth, Borders fits the bill. But he wants more than that.

The former Duke Blue Devil totaled 12 interceptions and 34 pass break-ups in four years.