New England Patriots

FOXBOROUGH, MASSACHUSETTS - OCTOBER 24: Daniel Ekuale #95 of the New England Patriots rushes against Greg Van Roten #62 of the New York Jets during the game at Gillette Stadium on October 24, 2021 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

The Patriots allowed 12 player contracts to expire on Monday, but that doesn’t necessarily mean none of them will end up back in New England.

Here’s the full list of players whose contracts expired with the Patriots, as confirmed on the NFL’s transaction wire Monday morning.

DB De’Vante Bausby
DB D.J. Daniel
DB Sean Davis
DT Daniel Ekuale
OL James Ferentz
TE Matt LaCosse
DB Cre’Von LeBlanc
DT Bill Murray
OL Alex Redmond
LB LaRoy Reynolds
DB D’Angelo Ross
WR Jaylen Smith

The Patriots declined to sign any of the above players to futures contracts, but can still do so until the start of free agency on March 16.

Some of these names are more likely than others to return to the Patriots in 2022, and possibly play at some point. But it’s unlikely they’d start the regular on the main roster, as opposed to the practice squad, especially if the NFL retains the expanded rosters implemented in 2020.

Five of the 12 players with expired contracts played for the Patriots in 2021, while others are interesting cases. Here’s a little more about them.

  • DT Daniel Ekuale

    ORCHARD PARK, NEW YORK - DECEMBER 06: Josh Allen #17 of the Buffalo Bills is sacked by Daniel Ekuale #95 of the New England Patriots during the second quarter at Highmark Stadium on December 06, 2021 in Orchard Park, New York. (Photo by Bryan M. Bennett/Getty Images)

    ORCHARD PARK, NEW YORK – DECEMBER 06: Josh Allen #17 of the Buffalo Bills is sacked by Daniel Ekuale #95 of the New England Patriots during the second quarter at Highmark Stadium on December 06, 2021 in Orchard Park, New York. (Photo by Bryan M. Bennett/Getty Images)

    If Ekuale plays again for the Patriots, it’s unlikely he’ll ever make a major impact on the defense. But he did flash the potential of an NFL-caliber rotational interior defender at times. As a depth guy, he’s worth considering over a more expensive external free agent.

    His biggest play didn’t show up in the box score: in Los Angeles against the Chargers, he generated enough pressure up the middle to hurry Justin Herbert into an errant throw, which resulted in a game-changing pick-six for Adrian Phillips. It was certainly a big win at the time.

    Ekuale previously played for the Browns and Jaguars, and is still just 27 years old. Perhaps he didn’t sign a futures contract because he could draw interest elsewhere. He’ll be a smaller name to know when the Patriots set out to improve their defensive roster in the offseason.

  • DBs D’Angelo Ross, De’Vante Bausby

    Aug 29, 2021; East Rutherford, New Jersey, USA; New England Patriots cornerback D’Angelo Ross (39) intercepts New York Giants quarterback Daniel Jones (8) (not pictured) during the second quarter at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Schneidler-USA TODAY Sports

    Ross has been with the Patriots since 2019, when he signed as an undrafted free agent. He spent his entire rookie season on injured reserve with the pesky “Foxboro Flu,” then was waived and signed to the practice squad in 2020.

    He’s been healthy since, and was finally active for his first three NFL games in 2021. There may simply be no room for the 5-foot-9 Ross in New England, if the team intends to retain both Jonathan Jones and Myles Bryant as their inside corners going forward.

    Bausby, meanwhile, was active for exactly one game: the divisional playoffs against the Bills. It didn’t go very well. Josh Allen ate his lunch with a juke on a scramble play, and that’s probably how Patriots fans will remember Bausby.

  • OL James Ferentz

    HOUSTON, TEXAS - OCTOBER 10: James Ferentz #65 of the New England Patriots and Brandon Bolden #25 celebrate after a game against the Houston Texans at NRG Stadium on October 10, 2021 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images)

    HOUSTON, TEXAS – OCTOBER 10: James Ferentz #65 of the New England Patriots and Brandon Bolden #25 celebrate after a game against the Houston Texans at NRG Stadium on October 10, 2021 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images)

    Offensive linemen seem to constantly be in more and more demand around the league, so it wouldn’t be shocking if Ferentz could get a job elsewhere. Otherwise, since first signing with the Patriots in 2017, he’s settled in as a dependable practice squad interior lineman, who can elevate to the main roster when the Patriots are in a bind on the injury front.

    Welp, Ferentz did exactly that. He stepped in and started two straight games in Weeks 5-6, when the Pats were without starting right guard Shaq Mason. Ferentz slid in at left guard, with Ted Karras moving to the right side. His overall performance was a step back from what they’d get with Mason on the field, but that’s to be expected with an injury replacement for a very good starter.

    The Patriots have little reason to move on from Ferentz in the role he had in 2021. But at this point, it’s not surprising for the 32-year-old, eight-year veteran to keep all his options open to begin the off-season.

  • TE Matt LaCosse

    Jun 16, 2021; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots tight end Matt LaCosse (83) participates in a drill during the New England Patriots mini camp at the New England Patriots practice complex. Mandatory Credit: Paul Rutherford-USA TODAY Sports

    Jun 16, 2021; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots tight end Matt LaCosse (83) participates in a drill during the New England Patriots mini camp at the New England Patriots practice complex. Mandatory Credit: Paul Rutherford-USA TODAY Sports

    Believe it or not, LaCosse played in a game for the Patriots in 2021. It was nine offensive snaps and he wasn’t targeted, but LaCosse did indeed see the field in a 45-7 win over the Browns.

    LaCosse’s inability to crack the active lineup was an obvious reflection of the Patriots’ big financial investment at the position. Hunter Henry emerged as a reliable target for rookie quarterback Mac Jones and the clear No. 1 heading into 2022. Jonnu Smith didn’t contribute nearly as much and made some ugly mistakes along the way, but the Patriots weren’t about to sit their $12.5 million tight end.

    Still, in retrospect, maybe LaCosse deserved more of a shot in the offense while Smith got more time to figure things out. At least maybe give Devin Asiasi a look. Either way, LaCosse seems more like a candidate to look for an opportunity with a new team in 2022.

  • DB Cre’Von LeBlanc

    NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA - JANUARY 13: Cre'von LeBlanc #34 of the Philadelphia Eagles makes an interception during the first quarter against the New Orleans Saints in the NFC Divisional Playoff Game at Mercedes Benz Superdome on January 13, 2019 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)

    NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA – JANUARY 13: Cre’von LeBlanc #34 of the Philadelphia Eagles makes an interception during the first quarter against the New Orleans Saints in the NFC Divisional Playoff Game at Mercedes Benz Superdome on January 13, 2019 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)

    LeBlanc didn’t play for the Patriots in 2021, but he’s an interesting case because he started his career in New England. He originally signed with the Patriots as an undrafted free agent out of Florida Atlantic in 2016, but didn’t survive his trip through waivers, as the Chicago Bears claimed him.

    Not only that, the Bears played LeBlanc – a lot. He played 13 games as a rookie, including nine starts, and totaled 10 passes defended, one of which was a pick-six.

    If LeBlanc had made it through waivers, he almost certainly would’ve signed to the Patriots’ practice squad and eventually emerged as another UDFA success story in the New England secondary. He hasn’t approached the success of his promising rookie season in the years since, but he did play nine games and 34 percent of defensive snaps for the Eagles in 2021. LeBlanc should still have something to offer an NFL team at age 27.

  • What’s that about the futures contracts?

    Jan 2, 2022; Foxborough, Massachusetts, USA; New England Patriots wide receiver Kristian Wilkerson (17) reacts after his touchdown during the second half against the Jacksonville Jaguars at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

    Jan 2, 2022; Foxborough, Massachusetts, USA; New England Patriots wide receiver Kristian Wilkerson (17) reacts after his touchdown during the second half against the Jacksonville Jaguars at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

    As mentioned above, the Patriots did sign six players to futures deals to start their offseason. These guys will have legitimate chances to make the initial 53-man roster in 2022, and if not, they’ll almost certainly be on track to sign back to the practice squad. Wide receivers Kristian Wilkerson and Tre Nixon are among the players to expect to see at camp.

    Read more on all the players the Patriots signed to futures contracts here.