Now that the 2011 draft is in the books, we can assess where the Patriots’ roster is and where the most competition will come.
The way we figure it, there 74 players on the roster right now between players who are signed and restricted free agents that have been tendered (pending the rules of a new collective bargaining agreement). Guard Logan Mankins is included because he was given the franchise tag. Tackle Matt Light was not because he is unrestricted.
First, to give you a baseline for what the final 53-man roster will look like, I’ve included a chart with the number of players kept at the final cut each of the past three seasons and the average.
Now let’s take a look at where the Patriots currently sit at each position and then we’ll have a few thoughts:
Thoughts by each position:
Quarterback: One will need to go, likely Jonathan Crompton.
Running back: One could be added.
Wide receiver: One to three could be released, especially if a free agent is added. Likely candidates are Buddy Farnham, Darnell Jenkins and Matthew Slater.
Tight end: Patriots have five and they’ve kept three each of the past three seasons. Hernandez could count with the receivers.
Tackle: They’ve only kept four so one could go – and that’s even before Matt Light re-enters the picture. Nick Kaczur could be on the chopping block as soon as free agency starts because he’s been asked to take a paycut.
Guard/center: If Marcus Cannon is a guard, then one to two could be in jeopardy, namely Steve Maneri and Rich Ohrnberger.
Defensive line: Even without adding a player in the draft – perhaps why they did not – the Patriots have 12 players in the mix at a position where they’ve kept eight max (usually six). There will be a lot of heavy competition in training camp.
Inside linebacker: Right about at the number even if Tracy White is brought back.
Outside linebacker: Strange that a 3-4 team has kept only three or four each year considering these players usually excel on special teams. If the Patriots stay at the same number, Marques Murrell could be on the outs.
Cornerback: With two added (although Malcolm Williams is likely a developmental/special teams player) the Patriots have 10 players in the mix for a spot where normally five are kept. Wilhite, Carter, Turner and Lockett will have to battle.
Safety: Patriots have seven right now and they’ve only retained four. Brown, Ventrone and Barrett will be watched.
Specialists: If the Patriots bring in someone else to take the load off Gostkowski (surgery), it will hurt another position.
- The Patriots have approximately seven open spots on their 80-man roster for free agents (undrafted or otherwise).
- Positions that could be targeted in free agency, based on the numbers: ILB, OLB, OT, RB, WR.