Over the next 36 hours, many players will learn that their time with the New England Patriots has come to an end. The Patriots must trim their roster from its current 75 players down to 53 by 4:00 p.m. ET Saturday.
Not all 22 players will be cut; some could go to injured reserve, and 10 will end up on the practice squad. That being said, let's not assume that all 53 players will be players who are currently on the roster. With 31 other teams each making at least 22 roster transactions apiece over the next two days, the Patriots could make a late addition or two to the roster.
One name in particular cropped up on the timeline that will draw the interest of Patriots fans: running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis, who was released by the Cincinnati Bengals. Could the Patriots reunite with The Law Firm?
We'll get to that question and a bunch more in this week's mailbag, so let's get right to it.
@ErikFrenz feels like Mallett's roster spot could be of more value at another position for depth - has Jimmy G shown enough?— Jan Bergmann (@jpbergmann) August 29, 2014
Jimmy Garoppolo and Ryan Mallett each had their moments this preseason, but it was an up-and-down ride for both of them. That being said, I don't think Garoppolo proved he deserves to be ahead of Mallett.
The Patriots are better off carrying three quarterbacks. They afforded Mallett the same luxury when he was a rookie, allowing him a full, pressure-free season to learn the offense before he would become Tom Brady's backup.
The quarterback position is the most valuable in football. Mallett has three full years of experience in the Patriots offense, and will only count for $937,945 against the salary cap this season. They can still carry nine or 10 offensive linemen even if they carry Mallett; that's actually exactly what happened in my previous 53-man roster projection.
Sidney, one benefit of Mallett's limited action is that Garoppolo got a lot of game experience against NFL defenses as a result. The jump from Eastern Illinois to the NFL is pretty significant; the coverages get more complicated, the windows get tighter, and the pass rush gets quicker.
Garoppolo likely wasn't seeing the very best of what each defense had to offer from a schematic standpoint — defenses classically go very vanilla with their schemes in preseason. Even still, the experience was valuable, as the Patriots certainly hope that it is the last time Garoppolo gets any game experience for awhile.
It's possible, but it would mostly depend on the health of Michael Buchanan. He wasn't a lock for the roster, anyway, but if he is out for a significant amount of time, the Patriots have a real shortage of depth on their hands.
Jake Bequette has looked better in this training camp than in years past, but the third-year pro may find himself a proverbial "loser" in the Patriots' switch to a 3-4 defense, where he is not a fit.
Zach Moore has improved this summer, and had a strong outing against the New York Giants to close out the preseason, but he is still a work in progress and it might be dangerous to ask him to do too much as a rookie. His length and get-off are impressive marks in his favor, but while he has improved his technique, there is still room to grow.
Chandler Jones and Rob Ninkovich played more snaps than any other defensive linemen in the league last season, and the Patriots still don't have any great options to take the load off their two workhorses. Dont'a Hightower lined up as an outside linebacker in the 3-4 during training camp, and could play some "rush" outside linebacker this season to help give Jones and Ninkovich a break.
But if the right player becomes available, and Bill Belichick thinks the team needs more depth, they could certainly make a move.
@ErikFrenz Do you believe Hoodie brings back The Law Firm when the Bengals cut him to have an inside runner with ball security??— Chuck Anderson (@anderchuckinc) August 29, 2014
The Cincinnati Bengals released (well, they say they "terminated") former Patriots running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis. "The Law Firm" played 53 games with the Patriots from 2007-2011, and had 510 carries for 2,064 yards and 29 touchdowns. Largely, he earned his reputation by holding onto the football, with no fumbles to his name with the Patriots. He lost four fumbles in two seasons with the Bengals, and was largely used as a goal line and short-yardage running back.
I didn't have Brandon Bolden on my 53-man roster before the Giants game, and that obviously didn't change with him not playing. However, it would make sense if the Patriots were to sign Green-Ellis to fill Bolden's role as a short-yardage and rotational back.
It's worth mentioning that Green-Ellis' teams have drafted a running back in the second round in three of the past four years. He may still be an effective back in his role, but expectations should be kept low if he is to re-sign with the team.
Thanks for the questions, guys! As always, feel free to send me more on Twitter.