The New England Patriots have some tough decisions to make in the coming weeks.

On Sept. 2, the NFL will have a monster cutdown day, as all teams will go from 90 to 53 players on their roster – a change this year after the league decided to do away with a roster cut to 75 that had come in the middle of August.

This leaves plenty of time for some undrafted and bubble players to make the team.

Trimming down to 53 players won’t be easy, but here’s a look at what the Patriots could do. As always, the lineup can be affected by injuries, trades, signings, acquisitions or unforeseen complications, but here’s how the Patriots could look after cutdown day:


Tom Brady, Jimmy Garoppolo, Jacoby Brissett

Tom Brady still looks like Tom Brady. Jimmy Garoppolo, in the first preseason game, looked like an NFL starter. There’s no denying the Patriots have great depth here. However, Brady is 40 and Garoppolo is in a contract year. Both variables make it important that the Patriots keep Brissett around.

Running back

Dion Lewis, Mike Gillislee, James White, Rex Burkhead, Brandon Bolden, James Develin

The Patriots have great depth here, too. Lewis, Gillislee, White and Burkhead could see ample playing time. The biggest question mark is Bolden. He’s a core special teams player and continued to see first-team reps this summer. Other players, including Brady, laud Bolden for being a great teammate. He may stick around.

Wide receiver

Brandin Cooks, Julian Edelman, Chris Hogan, Malcolm Mitchell, Danny Amendola

The Patriots are loaded here, which is why it’ll be tough to squeeze someone like Austin Carr or Devin Lucien onto the roster. Cooks, Edelman and Hogan look healthy, while the Patriots have taken their time with Mitchell and Amendola. If any receiver can’t start the season because of injury, it would open the door for a younger player.

Tight end

Rob Gronkowski, Dwayne Allen, James O’Shaughnessy

The Patriots are set with Gronkowski and Allen. Gronk is healthy and Allen seems to be fitting in well. One of the biggest position battles is for the third spot. Jacob Hollister looked great against Jacksonville, but the edge goes to O’Shaughnessy, a core-special teamer.

Offensive line

Nate Solder, Joe Thuney, David Andrews, Shaq Mason, Marcus Cannon, Ted Karras, LaAdrian Waddle, Tony Garcia

There shouldn’t be any surprises in who starts. Picking the backups, however, creates some interesting possibilities. Karras looks like the main interior backup. Unless Garcia can’t start the season (the third rounder is injured right now), he’ll be on the 53-man roster. That could leave one spot for Waddle or Cam Fleming. With Solder out during training camp because of an injury, Waddle has been with the starters.

Defensive end

Trey Flowers, Deatrich Wise, Kony Ealy, and one more.

The Patriots have a hole to fill after Rob Ninkovich’s retirement. The loss of the veteran creates a spot for Ealy, who has had an up-and-down preseason. Flowers will lead the group. Wise, a rookie, has impressed this summer. Another rookie, Derek Rivers, might be out for the season because of an ACL injury suffered this week. Other options include Geneo Grissom – who started camp with the first-team defense but has been playing recently with the second- and third-stringers – and undrafted free agents Keionta Davis and Caleb Kidder.

Defensive tackle

Malcom Brown, Alan Branch, Lawrence Guy, Vincent Valentine

The Patriots aren’t cutting any of these players. Branch was the best defensive tackle on the team a year ago. It will be tough to cut undrafted rookie Adam Butler.


Dont’a Hightower, Shea McClellin, Kyle Van Noy, David Harris, Elandon Roberts, Harvey Langi

Hightower is still on the physically unable to perform list, so that’s worth monitoring. At 33, Harris looks like he has some tread left on his tires. Roberts hits like a diesel truck but has been inconsistent this summer. Langi, an undrafted rookie, has played with the first-team defense almost all of camp. He’s played as a pass-rushing end and at linebacker. Expect him to make the team.


Malcolm Butler, Stephon Gilmore, Eric Rowe, Jonathan Jones, Cyrus Jones

With Butler, Gilmore and Rowe, the Patriots are ready to take on the NFL’s best offenses. Butler and Gilmore look great. Rowe continues to make strides. Jonathan Jones was the No. 4 cornerback last season and has been playing in the slot this summer. Cyrus Jones hasn’t looked great at corner, but will likely stick thanks to his contract (over $1 million guaranteed) and potential special teams value (if he can hold on to the ball).


Devin McCourty, Patrick Chung, Duron Harmon, Nate Ebner

McCourty, Chung and Harmon played a ton last season. The three are so talented that they can all play on the field at the same time in a bigger nickel defense. There was no room for Jordan Richards last season, and hasn’t shown a lot of improvement. Ebner has had a quietly good camp and has come away with his fair share of interceptions.

Special teams

Stephen Gostkowski, Ryan Allen, Joe Cardona, Matthew Slater, Brandon King

No surprises here. The core is intact. The biggest question mark is Slater, who is reportedly has a hamstring injury. If he begins the season on injured reserve, it’ll create another roster spot.

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