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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LB Christian Elliss

When a championship-caliber team waives a player, a bad team should at least be curious. So when the Eagles waived special teams, LB Christian Ellis, the Patriots moved him into Gillette Stadium.

Losing Elliss wasn’t the plan for the Eagles. It was a roster juggling ploy that blew up in their face, as six teams put in claims for Elliss, with the Patriots being awarded the third-year player out of Idaho.

The Eagles had every intention to sign Elliss to the practice squad, but the Patriots had different plans.

Elliss has already played in three games for the Patriots, as New England couldn’t wait for his help. New England has struggled with special teams in 2023 (much to my chagrin). Matthew Slater, likely playing his final year, is showing his age. Brenden Schooler has been penalty-prone. And free agent addition Chris Board has disappointed.

Elliss is in his second year, so he has a lot of career ahead of him. There is an opportunity for Elliss to establish himself as a special teamer worth keeping.

TE La’Michael Pettway

It’s been three years since La’Michael Pettway graduated from Iowa State. The thick 6-1 220-pound receiver was decently productive but not enough to catch the attention of scouts. That, along with below-average athleticism for the position, Pettway went undrafted and couldn’t find work.

So he bulked up a little and changed positions. That change led to opportunities with the USFL, first with the Michigan Panthers, then with the Birmingham Stallions, winning a championship with them. That led to a cup of coffee in Indianapolis with the Colts.

Pettway is about to get some hot cocoa in Foxborough. With Hunter Henry on injured reserve, Pettway was signed from the practice squad to the active roster. He secured a two-year deal, making him the only tight end under contract for 2024.

New England signing Pettway is a very curious move. He’s undersized for the position, raising questions of how he would fit in New England’s offense.

It’s possible the Patriots will try to bring back a two TE offense with one being a move TE like Aaron Hernandez, who was listed at 6-1 245.

Could we be getting a preview of the future on Sunday? Pettway certainly hopes so.