What you need to know about Patriots’ roster cuts and possible trades

The Patriots have historically made trades at the end of the preseason.

Patriots Bill Belichick
Patriots head coach Bill Belichick looks on from the sidelines during a preseason game against the Carolina Panthers. –Jason E. Miczek / The Associated Press

After opening training camp in late July, the Patriots have been slowly building to the regular season. Now, with only one preseason game remaining, the deadline for roster cuts looms.

Currently, the Patriots have more than 80 players on the team’s roster. NFL rules stipulate that teams need to be down to 53 on an active roster during the regular season. Bill Belichick and the New England coaching staff have decisions to make.

The deadline for roster cuts in the NFL for teams to get to 53 players in 2018 is 4 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 1st.

Trying to predict who will make the final 53-man roster is difficult, given the naturally unpredictable tendencies of Belichick as well as existing quandaries (such as the wide receiver position).


On top of roster cuts, the team must also classify players as described by the NFL:

Clubs that have players in the categories of Active/Physically Unable to Perform or Active/Non-Football Injury or Illness must select one of the following options: place player on Reserve/Physically Unable to Perform or Reserve/Non-Football Injury or Illness, whichever is applicable; request waivers; terminate contract; trade contract; or continue to count the player on the Active List.

As past examples have shown, the cuts will likely come over multiple days approaching the deadline. And just because a player is cut doesn’t mean that his future with the Patriots is over. Brandon Bolden was cut in 2017, but was brought back within a few days.

Another way for teams to hold on to developing players is to assign them to a 10-man practice squad, which can be done starting on Sept. 2nd.

Before 2017, roster cuts happened in stages. There was an initial cut-down to 75 players, followed by the final cut to 53. The rule change was adopted to enable teams more time to evaluate players trying to make the team.

Along with cuts (and potential free agent pickups afterward) is the possibility of trades. As NESN’s Zach Cox explored, recent Patriots history has shown a proclivity for trades before the regular season.

None of the deals have fetched a superstar player (previous acquisitions included tight end Tim Wright, cornerback Eric Rowe and linebacker Barkevious Mingo), but have helped fill out the roster.