With the uncertainty of roster cut day behind us, we now turn towards prepping for Week 1. The Patriots are a team that believes in churning the bottom of the roster. The cuts and the signings are all about improving the team. There are several reasons for this. They have certain needs that change from week to week. Players don’t progress as expected. Injuries cause vulnerabilities at various positions. Players become available that the coaching staff views as an upgrade.
With the Texans game coming up in a few short days the coaching staff is working furiously to quickly evaluate all the names that have become available across the NFL. Taking a quick look at the New England roster I noticed one major need. The offensive line has just seven members remaining. Marcus Cannon, Trent Brown and LaAdrian Waddle are the tackles and Joe Thuney, David Andrews, Shaq Mason, and Ted Karras fill up the interior. This is slightly thin given past history. The Patriots normally carry 8 on the roster and activate 6 or 7 for game day. An injury or two to this group will compromise the offense and endanger Tom Brady.
The Patriots will undoubtedly seek to get some of their own cuts onto their practice squad. Cole Croston, Matt Tobin and James Ferentz have provided depth in the past and I expect them to get first look at the beginning of the season. The Patriots may be turning towards veterans that are on the free agent market or waiver pickups.
This isn’t as pressing of a need as Thuney, Mason and Andrews seem to be healthy and ready to go this season. Ted Karras has been an intriguing option for previous seasons and seems to have the trust of the coaching staff.
Zane Beadles – a 6 ft 4 inch veteran entering his 9th season. He has played for the Broncos, Jaguars, and 49ers. Primarily a guard, he has filled in at tackle and that versatility could intrigue the coaching staff. He last played in San Francisco with Trent Brown and could provide some leadership and familiarity.
Travis Swanson – A center/guard player who last played for the NY Jets. He would be an option to provide depth for Andrews. Being a former member of the Jets can only help as well. He is a little lighter at 6 ft 5 in and 312 pounds and has had trouble staying healthy.
Jeremiah Poutasi – Another guard with tackle experience. He is a little younger so they will have to claim him on waivers or sign him if he makes it through. He spent the offseason with the Denver Broncos and is 6 ft 5 and 330 pounds.
Nico Siragusa – One of my favorite prospects in the 2017 draft. The Ravens selected him in the 4th round and he suffered a knee injury in his rookie season. He’s worked his way back and may still need some time but has good speed and movement at 6 ft 4 in and 330 pounds
Austin Howard – He should be on everyone’s radar, if only to see why he played so poorly. He was a sought after free agent when he signed with the Colts. He is a big guy at 6 ft 7 in and 330 pounds and could provide depth and competition for Waddle.
Antonio Garcia – Perhaps a year away with another team could have renewed the Patriot’s interest in Garcia. The team has been primarily concerned with his health and weight following his cut after his rookie season. New England could reconsider and see if he has improved with a claim.
Cyrus Kouandjio – Still 25 years young despite having 4 seasons under his belt. He was drafted by the Bills in the 2014 draft. He is 6 ft 7 in and 325 pounds. Cyrus could provide some size and speed behind the starters.
Chad Wheeler – Despite being and undrafted free agent and on the smaller side. He managed to play his way onto a bad NY Giants offensive line last season. The 6 ft 7 in Tackle prospect could get looks despite being sub 310 pounds.
With the Patriots coaching staff scouring the roster cuts and waiver wires they will be looking at more than just these names. Hopefully whoever they pick up will be able to help the team this season and beyond. Championship teams are built many ways, and the Patriots have mastered all of them.
All photos courtesy of Getty images unless noted otherwise.
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