The New England Patriots announced Saturday that they have released defensive backs Jalen Eliott and Devin Hafford. Then, on Sunday, they announced that they also released tight end Dalton Keene. These roster cuts come just days before Monday’s deadline to reduce the roster to 80 active players, the second wave of roster cuts during the NFL’s preseason.
With 82 players currently on their roster, the Patriots will need to make at least two more roster changes to reduce the roster to a maximum of 80 players by the deadline. Here are 3 players in danger of joining the next round of roster cuts.
1. Jabrill Peppers Defensive Back
Though he signed a one-year, $2 million deal with New England this offseason and was designed to make an immediate contribution to high school, Peppers has largely remained out of the spotlight so far during training camp. In all fairness, he started training on the physically unable to perform list, and while he dropped out of that list the week before the Patriots’ second preseason game against the Carolina Panthers, it’s a strong possibility the team is just playing it safe with him.
However, the reason Peppers makes this list is because, in that preseason matchup against Carolina, the Patriots used sophomore safety Joshuah Bledsoe as a linebacker/greater safety hybrid later in the game. Peppers has been used as a very similar linebacker/safety hybrid on previous teams and it looked likely to do so for the Patriots this season. While perhaps the team was just trying to gauge the versatility of Bledsoe, a sophomore who missed all of last season due to injury, it could also have been a test case for Peppers’ hybrid role.
What makes this potential cut a little less likely is Peppers’ contract. While the $2 million salary he was supposed to earn this season isn’t very significant, he does come with $1.35 million in dead pay cap if he is released. New England would have to find a trading partner for the six-year NFL veteran if he wanted to take his entire contract off the books.
2. Running after JJ Taylor
Let me start by being blunt: I absolutely love JJ Taylor. He runs with an electricity and ferocity that I think suits Damien Harris and Rhamondre Stevenson well. When quarterback James White suffered a hip injury late last season, I thought Taylor was primed to be New England’s best comeback pass. Unfortunately, that’s not exactly how things worked out.
While Taylor managed game repeats in White’s absence, he struggled a lot in pass protection, and when he got the ball, he just didn’t seem able to get away for longer runs (just 1.9 yards per attempt last season). These shortcomings paved the way for Stevenson to become the Patriots’ top passing choice last season, and he played well enough to earn the role for the rest of the season despite his rookie status.
New England drafted two running backs in this year’s NFL draft, one of whom (Pierre Strong) was known in college for being a great pass catcher. With these two running backs nearly infallible to make the 53-man roster or practice squad due to their fully guaranteed rookie contracts, Taylor seems to be the outsider in this group of positions.
3. Bill Murray Offensive Guard
While the transition from a defensive lineman to an offensive guard might seem quite easy to some, the reality is that the technique and footwork required on the offensive end of the ball uses a different skill set than the technique and strength required on the defensive end. the ball.
Murray decided to switch positions this offseason and has been working with the offensive units through most of training camp. However, he has rarely been used with any unit above the third team team and is still learning to play well in the position.
In New England’s first preseason game against the New York Giants, Murray can be seen effectively pushing his defensive opponent down the field while quarterback Bailey Zappe was playing the ball. While it’s certainly fun to see this type of action from a forward and it’s likely the Patriots coaching staff would approve of Murray’s effort, the reality is that this type of play only emphasizes the fact that Murray is still learning how to play the position. .
For starters, attackers cannot be more than five yards from the line of scrimmage if the ball has not passed it, and a violation of this rule results in a five-yard penalty. Additionally, Murray’s show of effort highlights the fact that, at this point, he’s willing to risk a five-yard infraction if it results in him doing his job well.
While I would love more than anything for Murray to find a home somewhere in the 53-man roster, he still hasn’t shown he’s developed his skills on the offensive end of the ball enough to earn a reserve role. , and for that reason I think there is a strong probability that he can be released.
However, his versatility in playing both offense and defense could end up being valuable to the Patriots, and perhaps could be the driving force behind him, making the team a depth piece. While unlikely, Murray’s desire to shift positions to help the team could sway the New England coaching staff to keep him close should they need a forward or defender in trouble.
Story originally appeared on Patriots Wire