New England Patriots

Aug 12, 2021; Foxborough, Massachusetts, USA; New England Patriots defensive end Ronnie Perkins (51) at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Paul Rutherford-USA TODAY Sports

  • The Patriots’ 2021 rookie class was one of the most impactful in recent history. Between Mac Jones, Christian Barmore, and Rhamondre Stevenson, the team had three first-year players making plays on a weekly basis.

    Meanwhile, the remaining seven rookies on the roster played a combined 24 snaps on the season. While that group didn’t do much in 2021, a number of key roles could be in store moving forward. Let’s catch up on where things stand for each of those players as the offseason begins.

  • DE Ronnie Perkins (3rd round, 96th overall)

    Aug 19, 2021; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Philadelphia Eagles offensive tackle Brett Toth (64) blocks New England Patriots defensive end Ronnie Perkins (51) at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

    Aug 19, 2021; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Philadelphia Eagles offensive tackle Brett Toth (64) blocks New England Patriots defensive end Ronnie Perkins (51) at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

    Perkins spent most of the year on the gameday inactive list before being placed on IR at the end of the season. He didn’t play in a game this year.

    Still, Perkins offers something the Patriots need in speed and athleticism on the defensive side of the ball. He’ll benefit from the behind the scenes work he got ‘redshirting’ in 2021, and will be a candidate to fill the secondary pass rusher role the Patriots should be looking to improve on heading into 2022.

  • LB Cameron McGrone (5th round, 177th overall)

    Michigan linebacker Cameron McGrone lines up against Indiana.

    It was no surprise that McGrone didn’t play in 2021. The team acknowledged that would likely be the case when they drafted him just months after tearing his ACL.

    Expect to hear McGrone’s name early and often as the Patriots’ offseason plans start to come together. Their late season struggles highlighted a need for faster, more athletic linebackers, and McGrone fits the bill.

  • S Joshuah Bledsoe (6th round, 188th overall)

    Dec 12, 2020; Columbia, Missouri, USA; Missouri Tigers safety Joshuah Bledsoe (1) defends against Georgia Bulldogs running back Zamir White (3) during the first half at Faurot Field at Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

    Dec 12, 2020; Columbia, Missouri, USA; Missouri Tigers safety Joshuah Bledsoe (1) defends against Georgia Bulldogs running back Zamir White (3) during the first half at Faurot Field at Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

    Like McGrone, Bledsoe suffered a pre-draft injury that held him out of his rookie season. Although he was activated off the non-football injury list late in the year, he never made it onto a game day roster.

    Bledsoe’s special teams ability should help him fight for a roster spot in 2022. With players like Matthew Slater, Brandon Bolden, and Brandon King on expiring contracts, there could be a number of jobs in the kicking game up for grabs next year.

  • OL William Sherman (6th round, 197th overall)

    Oct 6, 2018; Boulder, CO, USA; Colorado Buffaloes wide receiver Laviska Shenault Jr. (2) celebrates his touchdown with offensive lineman William Sherman (78) in the second quarter against the Arizona State Sun Devils at Folsom Field. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

    Oct 6, 2018; Boulder, CO, USA; Colorado Buffaloes wide receiver Laviska Shenault Jr. (2) celebrates his touchdown with offensive lineman William Sherman (78) in the second quarter against the Arizona State Sun Devils at Folsom Field. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

    Sherman did manage to get into a game this season. He was elevated from the practice squad and played six special teams snaps against Houston when the offensive line was decimated by COVID.

    The Patriots have a number of offensive linemen on expiring contracts, and having Sherman in the fold as at least a depth option would be a big help. He’s a four-spot player, with experience at both tackle and guard. The question is, how much did he develop behind the scenes during the season? He’s currently signed to a futures contract for 2022.

  • WR Tre Nixon (7th round, 242 overall)

    EAST RUTHERFORD, NEW JERSEY – AUGUST 29: Niko Lalos #57 of the New York Giants attempts to tackle Tre Nixon #87 of the New England Patriots at MetLife Stadium on August 29, 2021 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)

    Nixon is another player who had an injury hamper his development. A shoulder injury from college saw him on and off the field at times during spring workouts. He then spent the entire regular season on the practice squad.

    Given his formational versatility, Nixon is a great fit for the Patriots’ offense as a depth wide receiver. Like Sherman, his growth from Year 1 to Year 2 will ultimately dictate what role he has moving forward, but he remains a player to watch. He’s also signed to a futures contract.

  • CB Shaun Wade (Trade)

    PISCATAWAY, NEW JERSEY – NOVEMBER 16: Shaun Wade #24 of the Ohio State Buckeyes intercepts a pass intended for Bo Melton #18 of the Rutgers Scarlet Knights in the first quarter at SHI Stadium on November 16, 2019 in Piscataway, New Jersey. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

    Taken in the fifth round by the Baltimore Ravens in last year’s draft, Wade was acquired by the Patriots via trade on the final day of training camp. Naturally, Wade didn’t contribute at first as he learned the Patriots’ playbook, but did manage to get into three games late in the season. His 18 snaps (11 defense, 6 special teams) were the fourth-most by a Patriots rookie in 2021.

    Projected primarily as a slot corner, Wade has the potential to play a key role in the Patriots’ defense in 2022 and beyond. The team’s lack of depth at that position was highlighted by the loss of Jonathan Jones, who is entering the final year of his deal in 2022. There will be snaps to be won at that position, and Wade should be squarely in the competition.

  • K Quinn Nordin (UDFA)

    Patriots kicker Quinn Nordin kicks a field goal during warmups before a preseason game against the Washington Football Team at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass. (Syndication: The Providence Journal)

    Patriots kicker Quinn Nordin kicks a field goal during warmups before a preseason game against the Washington Football Team at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass. (Syndication: The Providence Journal)

    Quinn Nordin wowed everybody with his performance early last summer, before a setback late in the preseason. He ended up making the initial roster only to be inactive Week 1 then placed on IR soon after. The team activated him to move him to the practice squad late in the year, then signed him to a futures contract after the season.

    Nick Folk is 37-years-old and on an expiring contract, but has expressed desire to play again in 2022. If he does, it could mean another redshirt year for Nordin if he stays in New England. At the same time, kicking is a fickle business and the team’s lone UDFA could have a shot to compete for the job again.