New England Patriots

Dec 6, 2021; Orchard Park, New York, USA; New England Patriots defensive tackle Daniel Ekuale (95) and defensive end Christian Barmore (90) reacts to a play against the Buffalo Bills during the first half at Highmark Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

On Monday morning, the contracts of the 12 players who finished the season on the Patriots practice squad officially expired. Although those 12 players officially became free agents at that time, at least one is expected back in New England to start the 2022 season.

According to ESPN’s Mike Reiss, defensive lineman Daniel Ekuale is expected to re-sign with the team for the 2022 season. No specifics of the deal have been made public.

Ekuale’s situation is notably different than some other practice squad regulars this season such as wide receiver Kristian Wilkerson. Wilkerson was one of six players signed to futures contracts last week.

Signed to the practice squad in early September, Ekuale became a regular in the Patriots’ lineup despite never being on the 53-man roster. He was promoted from the practice squad seven times in the regular season including each of the last five games, as well as the playoff game. He played 23 percent of the team’s snaps in games he was active, recording five tackles and two sacks.

The Patriots should have most of their defensive line from 2021 back in 2022, with Carl Davis the only pending free agent. Expect Ekuale to compete for a spot with that group come training camp this summer.

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Alex Barth is a writer and digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Thoughts? Comments? Questions? Looking for a podcast guest? Let him know on Twitter @RealAlexBarth or via email at abarth@985TheSportsHub.com.