With some down time before training camp, we're inspecting the Patriots roster position by position. Today, an examination of the safeties.
LOCKS: Devin McCourty, Patrick Chung, Duron Harmon
BUBBLE: Jordan Richards, Nate Ebner
LONG SHOTS: Damarius Travis, David Jones, A.J. Moore
BREAKDOWN: New England often employs three safeties in their starting defensive lineups, and all three men are returning in 2018. Two of them, McCourty and Harmon, are returning co-captains as well, while Chung is a well-established veteran on the Patriots' defense.
Ebner is well-liked among teammates and coaches, and were it not for an untimely knee injury last fall, he might also be considered a lock. Chances are, he'll be back, but the odds are not nearly as favorable for another teammate, Richards. While equally popular on the squad, his questionable performances in sporadic appearances in big games last season may have opened the door for younger players like Travis and Jones (2017 practice squad holdovers) or undrafted rookie Moore to take advantage.