After a summer that featured back-to-back weeks of joint practices on the road then two weeks of work back at home, the first, and still very fluid, Patriots roster is set for the 2019 campaign.
Team building is a season-long process, the final roster they take into January will look far different than it does right now, just as 1,800 fringe NFL players have been scattered into the winds of free agency. Let's face it, the roster will have alterations by tomorrow night.
Add in the practice squad on Sunday and there will be even more to digest. But this is who they are starting with and who they liked enough to hang on to, so let's dive in!
Stidham wins back up
With Brian Hoyer's release, that means rookie 4th-round-pick Jarrett Stidham is now Tom Brady's backup. Stidham continued to improve all summer long and after every rookie mistake he recovered with poise. The experience he'll get working with Brady will be invaluable and it's exciting to see a rookie emerge at a vital position. As for Hoyer, it will be interesting to see what his value around the NFL is these days. He's a candidate to return.
Gunner Makes It!
Gunner Olszewski won over fans with his versatile performance in the preseason finale against the Giants and grabbed himself a roster spot. Olszewski is not out of the woods yet, but it's still impressive for an undrafted division 2 cornerback to make it at another position, even if it's just for now. It's easy to see Olszewski getting a chance to return kicks and punts out of the gate against the Steelers and that's why he was valuable to retain. This means that two undrafted rookie receivers, Olszewski and Jakobi Meyers, have made the first roster. Hopefully both can continue to improve because the offense needs players like them in the pipeline.
Demaryius Thomas cut
The most surprising news of the cut down came with the release of Demaryius Thomas. After spending most of the summer not on the locks list, Thomas seemed to play well enough in the preseason finale to secure a spot. He could still be a candidate to return since he is not subject to waivers and can choose where he'd like to land. Even if he's not the player he once was, the Patriots could still very much use him. Don't rule out Thomas' spot on this team just yet.
Tight End Questions Remain
With Lance Kendricks suspended for the opener and Ben Watson suspended for the first four games, the Pats are down to just Matt Lacosse and Ryan Izzo at the tight end position. Lacosse hasn't played since the preseason opener in Detroit, while Izzo showed well for himself in extended duty in the third preseason game against the Panthers. This could still be a position where changes are coming.
Obi and Calhoun Sneak On
Obi Melifonwu didn't stand out much during camp, possibly battling an injury toward the end. The special teams players are always hard to project and it would seem like Melifonwu might've gained a spot when Brandon King went down. Veteran special team stalwarts Matthew Slater and Nate Ebner are back as well.
Shilique Calhoun has not seen the field since he was hurt on day one of joint practices in Nashville but showed enough in the first two weeks of practice to earn a spot. Add him to a deep and dangerous edge group as he will provide quality depth and potential special teams contributions.
Deatrich Wise and Elandon Roberts, seen by many as potential cuts or trade bait, also remain with the team and provide valuable front seven depth.
Derek Rivers will miss his second season heading to Injured Reserve, as will David Andrews. There was some hope Andrews could stay on the roster at first and then be placed on IR with a chance to return but his 2019 season is now officially over.
Yodney Cajuste will remain on the Reserve/Non-Football Injury list while reserve safety Malik Gant and rookie offensive lineman Hjalte Froholdt were also placed on injured reserve.
Receiver Cameron Meredith will continue to recover from a knee injury for the first six weeks of the season on the PUP list. A lean outside receiver, Meredith could provide a boost to the receiver group if he can get healthy by mid-season.
Again, some of these players could still be departing or returning but right now, this group reflects many of the questions we entered camp with. The receivers and tight ends are still a work in progress and will be for the first month of the season, but the defense is loaded with talent and depth at all levels.
Injuries forced them to add three offensive linemen over the last few days, rounding out the depth in spots where no new players emerged. As with most teams, there are depth questions in certain spots, but the 2019 Patriots initial roster already looks pretty close to a Super Bowl contender.
If they can avoid key injuries and develop some players at receiver and tight end, it should be another exciting season.
Check out the headshots of the entire Patriots roster as of September 2, 2019.