New England Patriots: 1 player on the roster bubble at each position group

The New England Patriots have a big week ahead of them. The Patriots will participate in joint practices with the New York Giants on Wednesday and Thursday before traveling to MetLife Stadium to take on the Giants in the third and final preseason game. The preseason finale will take place Sunday, August 29th.

Shortly after the conclusion of the 2021 preseason will come the NFL’s final roster deadline. On August 31st at 4 p.m. ET, New England must have their final 53-man roster set.

As it currently stands, New England still has a number of bubble players vying for a spot on the final roster. The competition for roster spots is extremely intense due to New England’s log-jammed roster. With the preseason nearing its end and final cuts right around the corner, here’s one player on the roster bubble at each Patriots’ position group. (Note: The fullback position is not included.)

New England Patriots roster bubble

Quarterback: Brian Hoyer

Cam Newton and Mac Jones are roster locks, but Brian Hoyer’s status is much more questionable. Hoyer undoubtedly holds value as a locker room presence and an emergency veteran option at quarterback. However, New England is loaded at other positions, such as running back and defensive line, and could stand to use his roster spot for a more talented player at a different position. 

The best of both worlds would be convincing Hoyer to be a part of the practice squad, but it remains to be seen how plausible of an option that actually is.

Ultimately, with COVID-19 issues persisting (as seen recently with Cam Newton entering protocols) it may end up pushing Bill Belichick to be extra cautious and keep three quarterbacks on the final roster.

Running back: J.J. Taylor/Brandon Bolden

UPDATE: Sony Michel has been traded to the Los Angeles Rams. With the trade, this likely opens the door for both J.J. Taylor and Brandon Bolden to make the final roster.

Wide Reciever: Kristian Wilkerson

Kristian Wilkerson generated a ton of buzz to start training camp, but it has since died down. The reason being, Wilkerson has had trouble with drops. Multiple reports out of training camp have highlighted the trouble Wilkerson has had hanging onto the ball.

Even so, there’s still a lot to like about Wilkerson’s game. He’s a solid route-runner with good size and he can play out wide and in the slot. Plus, with N’Keal Harry out of action for the next four weeks with a shoulder injury it creates an opportunity for Wilkerson to seize the fourth wide receiver role.

To have a chance at a roster spot, Wilkerson must do two things: 1. Eliminate the drops. 2 Show some special teams prowess. The final week of the preseason will be huge for Wilkerson’s roster hopes.

Tight end: Matt LaCosse

Matt LaCosse is a serviceable backup, but after revamping the tight-end position over the offseason, New England doesn’t have a lot of roster space left for him. Jonnu Smith, Hunter Henry, and Devin Asiasi will be the top three tight ends. Plus, fullback Jakob Johnson can play tight end too.

It’s a tough ask to keep LaCosse as the fourth tight end when there are so many other talented bubble players that could use the roster spot. That said, a strong finish to the preseason and any more injuries to the current tight end group could swing things in his direction.

Offensive Line: Yodny Cajuste

Yodny Cajuste looks to finally be gaining some momentum on the field after spending the first two years of his NFL career injured. Cajuste had a good performance against the Eagles last Thursday, in addition to a few reportedly strong performances in practice. He’s trending up right now, but has Cajuste done enough to warrant a roster spot?

Currently, the Patriots’ top three backup linemen are Ted Karras, Justin Herron, and James Ferentz. Only Herron has tackle experience. 

That’s notable because starting tackles, Isaiah Wynn and Trent Brown, have both had their fair share of injuries throughout their respective NFL careers. Having extra depth at the tackle position would be ideal. The last week of the preseason will be vital for Cajuste to prove he belongs on the team.

Defensive Line: Carl Davis

Very few people have helped themselves more this preseason than Carl Davis. Davis has been everything the Patriots covet at interior defensive line. He’s an excellent run-stopper, he’s got good size, and he simply does his job on the field. 

Why then, is he on the roster bubble? Simply put, like the running back position, the interior defensive line is loaded with talent, which results in some talented players being bubble candidates.

Lawrence Guy, Davon Godchaux, Christian Barmore, and Deatrich Wise Jr. will all make the final roster. Henry Anderson was once presumed to be in that group, but he’s now a bit more questionable to make the team. It’s possible Davis can steal the fifth defensive line spot from Anderson. It’s also possible Davis is cut in favor of Anderson or that New England decides to keep all six. Some tough decisions will be made at the defensive line spot in the days to come.

Edge: Chase Winovich (Potential trade candidate)

The edge position is pretty well set with Matthew Judon, Kyle Van Noy, Ronnie Perkins, and Josh Uche. Chase Winovich still feels likely to be a valuable part of that group come the regular season. But, with Winovich missing most of training camp with an injury, and simply not fitting the Belichick defensive scheme, it makes you wonder if he could be a potential trade candidate.

This shouldn’t be taken as a slight to Winovich as a player. He’s a legitimate high-level pass rusher, but if there was one bubble player at the edge spot, it would be the guy that doesn’t necessarily fit what Belichick wants in an edge defender.

Linebacker: Harvey Langi

Harvey Langi greatly helped his roster chances in the second preseason game against the Eagles. Langi made plays against the run and in pass coverage. Still though, Langi’s calling card to make the team will be his special team’s ability, which we know is something Belichick values.

Ultimately, what happens with Langi ties together with Anfernee Jennings. Jennings has yet to play in a preseason game and could be an IR stash candidate. If that is indeed what takes place, Langi’s roster hopes look promising. He can serve as linebacker depth while playing a ton of special teams.

Corner: Michael Jackson Sr.

Following a good performance against the Eagles, Joejuan Williams seems to have a firm hold on the third outside corner cole, which leaves Michael Jackson Sr. in limbo. Williams and Jackson had looked to be in a roster battle, but it’s clear Williams has the advantage.

If Williams does indeed make the team, it’s hard to imagine Jackson on the final roster. That’s assuming Stephon Gilmore is back healthy and on the final 53-man roster. 

Jackson should be a potential practice squad candidate. He’s an intriguing prospect, but he relies on physicality too much. With better technique, he could become a reliable depth option.

Safety: Adrian Colbert

Adrian Colbert is a productive veteran player, who by all accounts has had a good training camp. Colbert is a proven reliable backup safety with special teams experience. 

Unfortunately, his roster hopes are slim because of the position he plays. Devin McCourty, Adrian Phillips, Kyle Dugger, and Myles Bryant are all pretty certain to make the team. It’s unlikely that New England would keep five safeties.

It would be nice to keep Colbert around on the practice squad, but that seems doubtful, as he should have no issues finding another job elsewhere.

Kicker: Quinn Nordin

Quinn Nordin’s stock was soaring after the first couple of weeks into training camp and even following the preseason opener. Sadly, stock in Nordin plummeted after the preseason game against the Eagles. Nordin went 1/2 on field goals and 2/4 on extra points. Adding insult to injury, veteran Nick Folk is now back from injury.

Barring a Folk collapse, it seems Nordin is on the outside looking in. That could change after another week of practice, but that’s where it stands right now.

Special Teams specialist: Brandon King

Brandon King has had a tremendous special teams career, but he’s now firmly on the roster bubble. King hasn’t played in an NFL game since the 2018 season. Additionally, New England has numerous other special teams specialists on the roster, such as Cody Davis, Matthew Slater, and Justin Bethel. With roster spots needed elsewhere on the roster, King’s days as a Patriots may be nearing its end.

2 thoughts on “New England Patriots: 1 player on the roster bubble at each position group

  • August 24, 2021 at 10:31 pm

    Gotta think Pats keep 3 QB’S. ESPECIALLY since Hoyer knows system along with Cam’s injury history.
    Bolden just to valuable on special teams and is dependable if needed in backfield.

  • August 25, 2021 at 3:08 am

    I believe that bolden would be cut due him not showing up or in games the Qb position is head on brian hoyerwould be cut. Matt lacosse is gone Harry is gonna get his wish of being traded winovich is 50/50. Yodney may get cut too


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