New England Patriots

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Former New England Patriots safety Brandon Meriweather joined 98.5 The Sports Hub’s Toucher and Rich live in the studio on Monday morning to talk football. In one of the key topics of the interview, Meriweather gave his thoughts on Patriots Senior Football Adviser Matt Patricia coaching the offense in his return to New England. Patricia seems like a leading candidate to call plays on offense, a position that appears yet to be filled.

“Out of the coaches, I would pick Matt,” Meriweather said, when asked who he’d pick on the current staff to be the de facto offensive coordinator.

Meriweather was also asked about Patricia’s infamous failed head coaching stint with the Detroit Lions, and whether that could have any negative effect on him as an offensive coordinator in New England.

“[Patricia] screwed up with the players, not necessarily the game plan and the coaching,” Meriweather said. “He can’t screw up with the players in New England because of Bill [Belichick].”

Mar 16, 2022; Atlanta, GA, USA; New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick and senior advisor Matt Patricia watch during Georgia Pro Day at William Porter Payne and Porter Otis Payne Indoor Athletic Facility. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Mar 16, 2022; Atlanta, GA, USA; New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick and senior advisor Matt Patricia watch during Georgia Pro Day at William Porter Payne and Porter Otis Payne Indoor Athletic Facility. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

The offensive play-calling for the 2022 Patriots appears to be down to two candidates: Patricia, who has mainly been working with the offensive line in off-season workouts; and Joe Judge, who also returned to Belichick’s staff, also after a disappointing head coaching stint after helming the New York Giants.

Meriweather might be slightly biased, having actually played in the Patriots’ secondary from 2007-10. Patricia was the linebackers coach during the time, then coached safeties in 2011 before becoming defensive coordinator in 2012.

Patricia’s role is raising eyebrows because he’s known more for his defensive coaching experience. He was an offensive graduate assistant at Syracuse from 2001-03, then started in New England as an offensive assistant and an assistant offensive line coach from 2004-05, before shifting to defense. He also played offensive line in college at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI).

Even though Meriweather said he thinks Patricia is the best choice among the current assistants, he still admitted he doesn’t know whether he’ll be a good offensive coach at the NFL level.

Patricia has more background than most think on the offensive side of the ball. But if he does end up becoming the Patriots’ de facto offensive coordinator this season, it is still a role that is completely different from anything he’s done in his NFL coaching career.

PHOTOS: Mac Jones, Patriots get to work for 2022 OTAs in Foxboro

A 'way too early' 2022 Patriots roster projection

  • The spring workout portion of the Patriots offseason has come and gone. Between OTAs and Minicamp, the Patriots ended up holding eight practices – six OTAs and two Minicamp sessions. Of those eight, four were open to the media (two of each).

    Those four practices offered the first glimpse into what the 2022 Patriots will look like. There’s still a number of pieces left in the puzzle – for instance, spring practices are low contact and the players are not in pads – but seeing things like player groupings, the developing chemistry between different players, and just a general in-person look at players for the first time in four months, help give an idea as to where things are at.

    For this roster projection, we’ll take into account what happened on the field in Foxborough over the course of the four open practices, with the understanding that there’s still more to come before roster cuts begin. That condition especially applies to offensive and defensive linemen, who are more limited than most by the unpadded practices due to the nature of their positions.

    One other note – for the purpose of this exercise we’re going to be working on putting together the Patriots Week 1 roster. Generally, teams will set a 53-man roster for the cutdown deadline, then immediately make changes including putting players on IR (players must be on the initial 53-man roster to be eligible to return from IR during the season, while players placed on IR prior to that date are ineligible to play at all that season) and signing others from their own and other teams’ practice squad. Such opportunities will be noted in each section.

    Finally, all players are listed alphabetically at their respective positions. The order is not representative of a depth chart projection. Rookies are in italics.

  • Quarterback (3)

    Nov 14, 2021; New England Patriots quarterback Brian Hoyer (5) and quarterback Mac Jones (10) walk onto the field prior to a game against the Cleveland Browns at Gillette Stadium. Foxborough, Massachusetts, USA; Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

    Nov 14, 2021; New England Patriots quarterback Brian Hoyer (5) and quarterback Mac Jones (10) walk onto the field prior to a game against the Cleveland Browns at Gillette Stadium. Foxborough, Massachusetts, USA; Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

    –Brian Hoyer
    –Mac Jones
    Bailey Zappe

    No major surprises here. That being said, Hoyer could be a candidate to be initially cut and then brought back after another player is placed on IR – as was the case last year. Even if he is let go on cutdown day, it feels highly unlikely he wouldn’t be with the team for Week 1.

  • Running back (5)

    FOXBOROUGH, MASSACHUSETTS - NOVEMBER 28: Damien Harris #37 of the New England Patriots celebrates with Rhamondre Stevenson #38 after scoring a rushing touchdown against the Tennessee Titans in the fourth quarter at Gillette Stadium on November 28, 2021 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)

    FOXBOROUGH, MASSACHUSETTS – NOVEMBER 28: Damien Harris #37 of the New England Patriots celebrates with Rhamondre Stevenson #38 after scoring a rushing touchdown against the Tennessee Titans in the fourth quarter at Gillette Stadium on November 28, 2021 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)

    –Damien Harris
    Kevin Harris
    –Rhamondre Stevenson
    Pierre Strong
    –J.J. Taylor

    PUP/ERIR:

    –James White

    James White was present for most of spring practices, but he was also limited. Initial reports suggest he may not be fully cleared to play by the start of the season, so he’s a player that could open the year either on PUP, or be named to the initial 53-man roster then moved to Eligible to Return Injured Reserve (ERIR). White would miss at least six weeks if placed on PUP, or four if he ends up on ERIR.

    If White isn’t able to start the season, the Patriots will need someone else to step up as the main pass-catching back. Brandon Bolden, who filled the role for White last season, left in free agency. Rookie Pierre Strong looks like the best fit for the position on paper, but fellow rookie Kevin Harris also seemed involved as a pass catcher this spring. J.J. Taylor could be a factor in that conversation as well, although he’s also a logical candidate as a player who could be initially released.

  • Wide receiver (6)

    FOXBOROUGH, MASSACHUSETTS - JANUARY 02: Jakobi Meyers #16 of the New England Patriots celebrates after scoring a touchdown with teammate Kendrick Bourne #84 at Gillette Stadium on January 02, 2022 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)

    FOXBOROUGH, MASSACHUSETTS – JANUARY 02: Jakobi Meyers #16 of the New England Patriots celebrates after scoring a touchdown with teammate Kendrick Bourne #84 at Gillette Stadium on January 02, 2022 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)

    –Nelson Agholor
    –Kendrick Bourne
    –Jakobi Meyers
    –Ty Montgomery
    –DeVante Parker
    Tyquan Thornton

    There’s a lot going on here, but let’s start with the names not appearing on this list. While Tre Nixon had a strong spring, two practices – unpadded practices too – are not enough for him to lock up a roster spot just yet. If he continues to perform the way he did in the spring once the pads come on this summer he can change that, but he’s not there quite yet.

    For now, Ty Montgomery lands the final wide receiver spot. Like Nixon, Montgomery stood out at times in OTAs and Minicamp, and his versatility as a hybrid receiver and running back who can also cover kicks make him too valuable to leave off the roster.

    Also absent from this list is last year’s camp standout Kristian Wilkerson. Wilkerson’s primary value is still on special teams, and with Montgomery also filling that role it has him on the outside looking in for now.

    N’Keal Harry also misses the cut here. Entering the final year of his contract, this is likely the end of his time in New England.

    Finally, a note about Nelson Agholor. It’s very, very unlikely the Patriots would straight up release him, but if Tyquan Thornton really has a strong summer Agholor could become a trade candidate – similar to the dynamic between Sony Michel and Rhamondre Stevenson last year.

  • Tight end (2)

    Oct 10, 2021; Houston, Texas, USA; New England Patriots tight end Hunter Henry (85) makes a catch during the fourth quarter against the Houston Texans at NRG Stadium. Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

    Oct 10, 2021; Houston, Texas, USA; New England Patriots tight end Hunter Henry (85) makes a catch during the fourth quarter against the Houston Texans at NRG Stadium. Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

    –Hunter Henry
    –Jonnu Smith

    There certainly is a case to be made for keeping Devin Asiasi and Dalton Keene around, and if released they’d be logical candidates for the practice squad. However, with five running backs and six wide receivers, this roster is already loaded up at the skill positions. The cuts have to be made somewhere.

  • Offensive line (8)

    Aug 19, 2021; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; New England Patriots offensive tackle Trent Brown (77) against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

    Aug 19, 2021; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; New England Patriots offensive tackle Trent Brown (77) against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

    –David Andrews (C)
    –Trent Brown (T)
    –James Ferentz (G/C)
    –Justin Herron (T)
    –Michael Onwenu (G/T)
    –William Sherman (G/T)
    Cole Strange (G/C)
    –Isaiah Wynn (T)

    IR:

    Chasen Hines
    Andrew Stueber

    Eight offensive linemen are on the lower side of the usual total at the position for the Patriots, but the versatility of the players listed here as well as the new practice squad elevation rules make it possible. Sherman comes in on the fringe, with Arlington Hambright, Yasir Durant, Yodny Cajuste, and rookie UDFA Kody Russey all candidates for that final spot as well – or the next spot if the Patriots decide to keep nine linemen.

    As for Hines and Stueber, Bill Belichick noted last week that they’re not yet ready to be on the field for practice. That could be a sign of a potential red shirt season being in the cards.

  • Defensive line (6)

    Nov 14, 2021; Foxborough, Massachusetts, USA; New England Patriots defensive end Deatrich Wise (91) and defensive end Lawrence Guy (93) react after sacking Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield (not seen) during the second half at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports

    Nov 14, 2021; Foxborough, Massachusetts, USA; New England Patriots defensive end Deatrich Wise (91) and defensive end Lawrence Guy (93) react after sacking Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield (not seen) during the second half at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports

    –Christian Barmore
    –Carl Davis
    –Davon Godchaux
    –Lawrence Guy
    LaBryan Ray
    –Deatrich Wise

    The Patriots bring back pretty much the same group up front defensively from last year, counting on player development and growth within the system to drive improvement. The main two players to focus on in that regard would be Christian Barmore and Davon Godchaux.

    LaBryan Ray makes the cut as the fresh face of the group. It’s not a coincidence the Patriots have kept at least on UDFA on the roster every season since 2004, and Ray seems like the best candidate to continue that streak.

    Two players just miss the cut here in Henry Anderson and Daniel Ekuale. The Patriots restructured Anderson’s contract earlier this offseason, but the 30-year-old struggled to find his footing last summer and then got hurt early in the season. Ekuale spent most of last year on the Patriots’ practice squad and was regularly elevated, and could see the same thing happen this year.

    UPDATE: Daniel Ekuale has reportedly been suspended for the first two games of the regular season, so he is not eligible and will not count against the 53-man roster to start the year.

  • Linebacker (7)

    Aug 12, 2021; Foxborough, Massachusetts, USA; New England Patriots outside linebacker Matt Judon (9) at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Paul Rutherford-USA TODAY Sports

    Aug 12, 2021; Foxborough, Massachusetts, USA; New England Patriots outside linebacker Matt Judon (9) at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Paul Rutherford-USA TODAY Sports

    –Ja’Whaun Bentley
    –Matthew Judon
    –Cameron McGrone
    –Raekwon McMillan
    –Josh Uche
    –Mack Wilson
    –Ronnie Perkins

    This Patriots linebacker group brings youth and athleticism to what has traditionally been a more veteran and physical position in New England. As the summer goes on, one of the premier roster battles will be between Cameron McGrone, Raekwon McMillan, and Mack Wilson for the middle linebacker spot.

    If the Patriots want to add depth on special teams, Jahlani Tavai or Harvey Langi could also be added to this group. There’s also Anfernee Jennings, who returns after spending last season on IR.

  • Cornerback (7)

    FOXBOROUGH, MASSACHUSETTS - OCTOBER 17: Jalen Mills #2 of the New England Patriots celebrates after the Patriots stopped the Dallas Cowboys on fourth down in the first quarter at Gillette Stadium on October 17, 2021 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

    FOXBOROUGH, MASSACHUSETTS – OCTOBER 17: Jalen Mills #2 of the New England Patriots celebrates after the Patriots stopped the Dallas Cowboys on fourth down in the first quarter at Gillette Stadium on October 17, 2021 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

    –Justin Bethel
    –Myles Bryant
    –Malcolm Butler
    Jack Jones
    –Jonathan Jones
    –Jalen Mills
    –Terrance Mitchell

    PUP/ERIR:

    Marcus Jones

    If the Patriots are going to add to the roster externally between now and the start of the season, cornerback seems like the most logical position for them to do so. While it was temped to add an ‘external acquisition’ spot to this list, we’ll take a key from Belichick and only comment on the players in the building for now.

    On the boundary, the picture behind Jalen Mills still needs to be cleared up. Malcolm Butler, Jack Jones, and Terrance Mitchell will be expected to compete for reps there. That being said, Mitchell is a player who could be released and brought back in the initial roster shuffling. Justin Bethel could also factor in to this rotation, as he did at times last year.

    In the slot, Jonathan Jones returns after missing most of last season with a shoulder injury. With Marcus Jones spending the spring in a red non-contact jersey following offseason shoulder surgery, we’ll assume the Patriots don’t want to rush him back, and place him on PUP or ERIR with Myles Bryant and Shaun Wade competing for the backup job. Bryant gets the nod given his versatility to also give the team snaps as safety.

  • Safety (4)

    FOXBOROUGH, MASSACHUSETTS - JANUARY 02: New England Patriots players celebrate after an interception by Kyle Dugger #23 in the third quarter of the game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at Gillette Stadium on January 02, 2022 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)

    FOXBOROUGH, MASSACHUSETTS – JANUARY 02: New England Patriots players celebrate after an interception by Kyle Dugger #23 in the third quarter of the game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at Gillette Stadium on January 02, 2022 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)

    –Kyle Dugger
    –Devin McCourty
    –Jabrill Peppers
    –Adrian Phillips

    Although there’s only four players, this may be one of the Patriots’ most complete positional groups. Dugger, McCourty, and Phillips were all impact players last season, and they’re joined by a player with significant untapped potential in Peppers. As mentioned above, Myles Bryant could add depth here as well.

    2021 sixth-round pick Joshuah Bledsoe sits on the bubble here. Bledsoe would add depth not only at safety but on special teams as well. He may be a player the team could get on the practice squad and elevate as needed.

  • Special teams (5)

    Matthew Slater #18 of the New England Patriots celebrates after a missed field goal by the New York Jets during the first half at Gillette Stadium on October 24, 2021 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

    Matthew Slater #18 of the New England Patriots celebrates after a missed field goal by the New York Jets during the first half at Gillette Stadium on October 24, 2021 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

    –Nick Folk (K)
    –Jake Bailey (P)
    –Joe Cardona (LS)
    –Matthew Slater (Coverage)
    –Cody Davis (Coverage)

    No surprises here. If anything is going to change in this group, it would be UDFA Brenden Schooler making a run at the roster as another coverage specialist. He’ll be a player to watch in the preseason.

  • On the bubble

    Jun 8, 2022; Foxborough, Massachusetts, USA; New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick during the New England Patriots minicamp at Gillette Stadium. Credit: Paul Rutherford-USA TODAY Sports

    Jun 8, 2022; Foxborough, Massachusetts, USA; New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick during the New England Patriots minicamp at Gillette Stadium. Credit: Paul Rutherford-USA TODAY Sports

    Here’s a quick look at the last three players that were cut (not including PUP/IR players), and the last three left on the roster.

    Last three off:

    –Tre Nixon
    –Daniel Ekuale
    –Shaun Wade

    Last three on:

    –J.J. Taylor
    –Terrance Mitchell
    –William Sherman

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