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Patriots Replay Wed Nov 21 | 12:00 AM - 12:00 PM

Ask PFW: Breaking down the roster

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Are there any standards or qualifications that must be met in order for a player to be put on IR? In other words, how “injured” does a player have to be in order for him to be put on season ending IR? And is there a limit as to how many players may be on IR at one time? As I write this, there are apparently five Patriots on IR. Is it possible for a player to have merely a sprained ankle as of the cut down day, and assuming an abundance of depth at that position, the team simply puts him on IR so they don’t lose their rights to him? If so, does a player have to consent to such a “scheme?” If I’m right, why not put WRs Malcolm Mitchell, Kenny Britt and/or Jordan Matthews on IR, or designate the latter two to be eligible to return during the season?
Tom Digangi

In general terms there really aren’t any strict standards for putting players on IR but you can’t just fabricate injuries either. Players who are healthy enough to play often work out settlements with their team so they can go elsewhere and play. There are many times when teams place players on IR with injuries that aren’t serious enough to warrant an end of the season but it may need a roster spot and buys some additional time by making such a move. This is when settlement sometimes happen. In order to be eligible to return, a player must be on the active 53-man roster after 4 p.m. on the Sunday prior to Week 1. If a player is place on IR after that, he would be eligible for one of the two spots to return. Currently the Patriots don’t have any players on IR who would fall into that category. As for Britt and Matthews, I don’t think they were released solely due to injury. Neither seemed to factor into the team’s long-range plans and were let go. Mitchell was definitely a health issue as his balky knee has caused him problems going back to his college days. They would need to be re-signed in order to return.
Paul Perillo

Thinking about the future, do you think the Patriots should look at Paxton Lynch? I think Josh McDaniels would give it a shot.
Wilson Campos

I wasn’t overly impressed with Lynch when he was coming out of Memphis a couple years ago and he’s done nothing with the Broncos to prove me wrong. He doesn’t seem to have a great arm and hasn’t shown the ability to operate an NFL offense. In college he was strictly used in the spread and everything was quickly out of his hands with no real need to read defenses. I guess there would be no harm in bringing a guy in for a workout but I don’t love Lynch’s skill set.
Paul Perillo

I know that Brian Hoyer is the established backup and that Danny Etling has been put on the practice squad. Do you guys think that there is any chance that midway through the season Etling improves enough to be made the No. 2 and Hoyer is cut? (BTW, unlike some fellow Patriots fans out there, I in no way expect Etling to be Brady’s successor, in fact I expect him to get cut after next year's preseason).
Seth Van Ast

I’m a little confused … if you feel Etling will be cut next year why would you think he’d improve enough this year to ascend to the backup job? To answer your question, I would be highly surprised to see Etling improve to the point where he’d make Hoyer expendable. He has a long way to go in terms of running the offense, making his reads, delivering the ball with some consistent accuracy, etc. He has some skills but is quite raw at this point and has a lot of work to do in order to become even a backup.
Paul Perillo

Are you concerned or slightly nervous this season after what seems (to me at least ) a rather lackluster offseason? I mean in signings and the general shape of team. The performance during the preseason are the usual mixed bag of highs and lows. Gary Waldron

Perhaps more so than in years past I do have some concerns with the team. Unlike in years past, some of them have to do with the offense. The wide receiver corps is really thin and the depth up front on the line is as well. Marcus Cannon’s injury worries me and missing Julian Edelman for a month is troublesome, especially because he figures to need some time knocking off the rust after tearing his ACL. Injuries are always a problem and this year it seems there are less candidates waiting to fill in than is typically the case. I wouldn’t go as far to say that I’m nervous in terms of the big picture. I still believe the Patriots will win plenty of games, take the AFC East and be in line for a first-round bye in the playoffs. I just don’t have as much confidence at this point as I normally would.
Paul Perillo

The Patriots cut Brandon Bolden last year, only to bring him back onto the roster a few days later. It seems they’re doing the same this year. I understand doing this if the roster is full and they don’t want to cut a young player susceptible to waivers, but I why would do it when they have extra roster spots available? Michael Clear

This was obviously written before the Patriots filled the roster with a pair of waiver claims over the weekend but those moves answered this question. If the Patriots indeed intend to bring Bolden back once again, they obviously felt they needed to add players at other positions more. Bolden is a solid veteran backup running back who fills roles on special teams. Now it looks like Miami is ready to sign him so maybe this is really the end to his days in New England.
Paul Perillo

How do the teams keep track of which waived players have been cleared by which teams. I get that a player has to be passed over by 31 other teams, in reverse order of standings, before he can be reclaimed by the team that cut him. But after cut-down Saturday, there are a lot of players that have to go thru 32 different claiming orders. For instance, Denver PR Isaiah McKenzie has to clear 29 teams (all but Phil and Den) before NE can claim him. Same time, Detroit LB Jonathon Freeney (just as an example) has to clear a different 29 teams (all but Phil and Det). How do they keep track of that?
Andy Alexander

You’re making this more complicated than it needs to be. All players who are subject to waivers are available to everyone in reverse order of standings. Teams can either claim a player or not. That happens by noon on Sunday, and once the process is complete, players are awarded to the team with the highest spot that place a claim. In others words, if Cleveland and the Patriots placed a claim on the same player, the player would be awarded to the Browns because they have the higher spot. If a player goes unclaimed, the team that released him is allowed to sign him to its practice squad. It’s all done at the same time and the order remains the same until after three weeks of the season are complete. At that point, the standings at the time are used to determine the order.
Paul Perillo

I was wondering with the release of Etling and the Titans release of Luke Falk, maybe we bring him in? I know there was some talk we might draft him and I remember the Titans swooping and picking him up. I like Hoyer, he just doesn’t comfort me knowing we are just one awful play away from him being our only QB. What do you think about bringing in Luke Falk? Dakoda Esposito

I would say a lot of similar things about Falk as I did about Lynch earlier. They are not the same style of quarterback, but I wasn’t overly impressed with him either. He looks like another system quarterback (Mike Leach’s old Texas Tech spread) that hasn’t really produced any real NFL quarterbacks. He threw off his back foot a lot and doesn’t seem to have a great arm. The Dolphins took a flier on him by claiming him off waivers so we’ll see if another team feels the same as the Titans. But I’m not really interested in Falk either.
Paul Perillo

Do you see the Patriots having any interest in kicking the tires on Braxton Miller? He has the versatility the coaching staff loves and the team is not exactly stacked at WR. Eddie Hodgetts

Miller hasn’t really done anything at the NFL level, and just because he played quarterback in college doesn’t necessarily make him a versatile player at the pro level. Maybe he could be used on a trick play to throw the ball at times, but he’s never done it in the NFL. He has 34 receptions in two seasons and a total of seven returns – four on punts and three on kickoffs. The Texans don’t have a wealth of receiving options but still felt comfortable enough to cut him, which is telling since Houston’s system is obviously quite similar to the Patriots since it was implemented by Bill O’Brien. Miller is a solid athlete and perhaps worth looking at but I wouldn’t expect him to provide much.
Paul Perillo

After trading Jimmy Garoppolo and drafting Etling, I came to believe that Patriots not only made possibly a dynasty-ending mistake, they have no real plan at QB. And if their 41-42 year old QB gets hurt, even for a short while, they are out of playoffs. Am I wrong? Stan C.

Are you wrong? Probably not. There is no current plan in place to replace Brady and if he goes down for any length of time I think they’d be hard-pressed to make the playoffs. But you left out an important piece to the puzzle: how were they supposed to keep both Garoppolo and Brady? Unless you were willing to cut Brady and move forward with Garoppolo. I wasn’t. Brady is the reigning MVP and no way was I willing to end his Patriots career while he’s still at the top of his game. Franchising Garoppolo was not really a viable option, and Jimmy wanted a chance to play somewhere so he wasn’t staying. So while you’re probably not wrong, there are a lot of other factors to consider.
Paul Perillo

My question is why haven’t the Patriots reached out to Dez Bryant? Antwon P.

My question is, why haven’t any of the other 31 teams signed Dez Bryant? Are the Patriots the only team lacking wide receiver depth? It seems to me that Bryant still thinks he’s the star he once was and is looking for a contract to indicate that. More importantly to me, I don’t feel Bryant still has the skills necessary to get open consistently and perform in a disciplined offense like the Patriots.
Paul Perillo

Why did the Patriots release Marquis Flowers over Elandon Roberts? Flowers was the only ILB who could chase fast RBs among that ILB group. Roberts is slow and undersized which often results in him being banged up when he is stuffing the run, and a bigger Ja’Whaun Bentley could fill that role. Marcus Lock

I don’t think Flowers and Roberts necessarily played the same role, and while I agree with you assessment that Roberts has a hard time covering backs in space, I don’t believe Flowers has the ability to play in the middle and stop the run like Roberts. To me, this spot was more between Flowers and Nicholas Grigsby. Both play special teams and have some mobility. Grigsby was impressive on special teams late last year and I feel he has the ability to fill in on defense just like Flowers did last year. Roberts is definitely the better option against the run, although I do agree with you that Bentley looks like he could fill a similar role.
Paul Perillo

I was surprised by the cut of Cyrus Jones given he was a second-round pick from 2016, and was injured for his second year. So I feel like we gave up on a decently high draft pick after only one year. I know he didn't do great his first year but he was a rookie. I would have felt better if we could have given him a shot this year. Your thoughts on if that's a pretty short leash for a second-round pick? Does this mesh with the Patriots seeming to not value draft picks as much anymore? I heard someone on ESPN talking about that strategy a while back, where teams seemed to not value draft picks as much anymore and the patriots were among the teams leading that thought process. Austin Evans

I thought Jones might have a chance to stick around, at least for a month, while Edelman was serving his suspension in order to return punts. But based on his work on defense I didn’t think he deserved a spot. I understand your point about him being on IR last year, but he got hurt during the final preseason game so the coaches got to see him all spring and summer before he went down. If he showed any promise – he struggled mightily last preseason – he probably would have gotten the benefit of the doubt as a second-round pick. And I’m not sure about the details of the Patriots saying they no longer value draft picks but I strongly disagree with that. The Patriots are constantly wheeling and dealing in effort to add picks, so if they no longer value them that’s a strange way to show it.
Paul Perillo

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