New England Patriots

Aug 29, 2019; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots linebacker Scooby Wright III celebrates with New England Patriots defensive back Keion Crossen (35) after a sac against the New York Giants during the first half at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports

  • In case you missed it, spring football is returning this year in the form of the USFL. This league, which will begin play in April, is somewhat of a ‘reboot’ of the popular league in the 80’s of the same name – it features similar team names and logos as well.

    The league held it’s inaugural draft over the last two days, featuring 35 rounds with each round dedicated to a specific position. While the league didn’t publicize the draft pool ahead of time, it consisted of over 500 players. Any player who graduated high school in 2020 or earlier was eligible, meaning current college players not yet eligible for the NFL could forego their final year of eligibility to play pro.

    Of the 280 players selected, 10 spent at least some time with the Patriots in recent years. From pre-training camp hype to those who appeared in regular season games, see if any of these names ring a bell…

  • QB J’Mar Smith, Birmingham Stallions

    Aug 31, 2019; Austin, TX, USA; Louisiana Tech Bulldogs quarterback J’Mar Smith (8) throws a pass in the first half of a game against the Texas Longhorns at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Scott Wachter-USA TODAY Sports

    Smith signed with the Patriots as a UDFA following the 2020 NFL Draft, and had the potential to be Jarrett Stidham’s biggest competition for the starting quarterback job in training camp. That changed when the team signed Cam Newton two months later, and Smith was cut before the start of camp when the NFL decreased the roster limit as a COVID precaution.

  • WR Isaiah Zuber, Houston Gamblers

    FOXBOROUGH, MASSACHUSETTS - SEPTEMBER 27: Isaiah Zuber #19 of the New England Patriots runs with the ball against the Las Vegas Raiders at Gillette Stadium on September 27, 2020 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)

    FOXBOROUGH, MASSACHUSETTS – SEPTEMBER 27: Isaiah Zuber #19 of the New England Patriots runs with the ball against the Las Vegas Raiders at Gillette Stadium on September 27, 2020 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)

    Another 2020 Patriots UDFA, Zuber made it onto the practice squad out of camp and saw some game action bolstering a thin wide receiver core. He played 26 snaps over four games, recording four touches for 50 yards.

  • WR Jeff Thomas, Pittsburgh Maulers

    Sep 2, 2018; Arlington, TX, USA; Miami Hurricanes receiver Jeff Thomas (4) runs a route against LSU Tigers at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

    Sep 2, 2018; Arlington, TX, USA; Miami Hurricanes receiver Jeff Thomas (4) runs a route against LSU Tigers at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

    Part of the Patriots’ 2020 UDFA class, Thomas was one of the team’s most-hyped rookies heading into training camp in 2020. Unfortunately, injuries kept him off the practice fields at the start of camp and there were no preseason games or joint practices that year due to COVID. He was released as a part of final roster cuts.

  • WR Quincy Adeboyejo, Michigan Panthers

    OXFORD, MS – OCTOBER 18: Wide receiver Quincy Adeboyejo #8 of the Mississippi Rebels runs the ball down the sidelines in front of defensive back Brian Randolph #37 of the Tennessee Volunteers on October 18, 2014 at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium in Oxford, Mississippi. The Mississippi Rebels defeated the Tennessee Volunteers 34-3. (Photo by Michael Chang/Getty Images)

    After stops with the Ravens and Jets, Adeboyejo signed with the Patriots’ practice squad in the middle of the 2019 season. He then signed a futures contract with the team, and spent the 2020 season on New England’s injured reserve.

  • DL Mike Barnett, Philadelphia Stars

    Barnett was with the Patriots for a week as a UDFA in 2020 before being placed on IR, where he spent the rest of the season.

  • DL John Atkins, Tampa Bay Bandits

    Detroit Lions defensive tackle John Atkins (99) tackles Chicago Bears running back David Montgomery during the first half Thursday, Nov. 28, 2019 at Ford Field.

    Atkins entered the NFL as a UDFA with the Patriots in 2018, but failed to make the team. He did catch on with Matt Patricia’s Detroit Lions, where he spent three seasons.

  • LB Scooby Wright, Birmingham Stallions

    FOXBOROUGH, MASSACHUSETTS – AUGUST 29: Scooby Wright III #96 of the New England Patriots during the preseason game between the New York Giants and the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium on August 29, 2019 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

    Wright spent part of the Patriots’ 2019 training camp on the Patriots’ roster, then had a stint with the practice squad to start the season.

  • LB Christian Sam, Tampa Bay Bandits

    TEMPE, AZ – SEPTEMBER 03: Linebacker Christian Sam #2 of the Arizona State Sun Devils takes the field for the game against Northern Arizona Lumberjacks at Sun Devil Stadium on September 3, 2016 in Tempe, Arizona. The Sun Devils won 44-13. (Photo by Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images)

    A former Patriot with two first names heading to Tampa? Sam was a sixth-round pick by the Patriots in 2018, one of two inside linebackers taken in that draft along with Ja’Whaun Bentley. He spent his rookie season on IR then was released the following summer.

  • LB Kyahva Tezino, Pittsburgh Maulers

    SAN DIEGO, CA – NOVEMBER 24: Dakota Turner #41 and Kyahva Tezino #44 of the San Diego State Aztecs react to tackling Tyrone Owens #25 of the New Mexico Lobos during the first half of a game at Qualcomm Stadium on November 24, 2017 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

    Like Smith, Tezino was a 2020 UDFA who was cut before training camp when the NFL dropped the roster limit from 90 players to 80.

  • CB De’Vaunte Bausby, New Jersey Generals

    Bausby is a potential replacement for Mills, adding depth at outside corner. At 6-foo-1, he gives the Patriots size on the perimeter. He was signed to the practice squad in late October, but hasn’t appeared in a game for the Patriots. In his career he’s played in 26 NFL games making six starts, and starred in the now-defunct AAF playing for the San Antonio Commanders.

    Playing for his seventh team in seven years, Bausby spent the majority of the 2021 NFL season on the Patriots practice squad. He was elevated for the playoff loss to Buffalo, and played late in the game.

  • CB Will Likely, Houston Gamblers

    A member of the Patriots’ 2017 UDFA class, Likely faced an uphill battle towards a roster spot in a group of corners that included fellow UDFAs Kenny Moore and D.J. Killings. He was released as a part of final roster cuts.

  • S Obi Melifonwu, Tampa Bay Bandits

    DETROIT, MI – AUGUST 08: Jesse James #83 of the Detroit Lions makes a catch for the first down and tackle by Obi Melifonwu #22 of the New England Patriots during the preseason game at Ford Field on August 8, 2019 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Rey Del Rio/Getty Images)

    A former Patriot and Grafton High School graduate, Melifonwu was signed by the Patriots in 2018 as a free agent following his released from the Raiders – who had drafted him in the second round the year before. Melifonwu played in two regular season games as well as the AFC Championship during the Super Bowl-winning 2018 season.