We have reached the peak of the NFL offseason: the NFL Draft is over, most free agents have been signed, and training camp doesn’t begin for another two months. Teams are holding their annual offseason workout programs, but there generally isn’t much to report on over these next few months. Thus, I will be starting a positional breakdown of the 2018 New England Patriots roster.
This is always a difficult task early in the year, as we have yet to see how the undrafted rookies and other new additions perform. There are always a handful of unheralded players who end up becoming fan-favorites during training camp who end up cracking the roster. On the same note, the physical nature of the NFL means that a few starters or other “roster locks” end up starting the year on the physically unable to perform list or the injured reserve. In my projection, I will make note of the players I believe to be roster locks, those on the bubble, practice squad candidates and those likely to be cut. I will also note the players who I personally would have make the roster if I were the general manager. First off, we look at the quarterbacks.
My Locks (2): Tom Brady, Brian Hoyer
Practice Squad (1): Danny Etling
The soon-to-be 41-year-old Tom Brady is entering uncharted territory this season. No quarterback in NFL history has played at a high level at 41, but then again, no other quarterback in NFL history has played as well as Brady at age 40. He still has two years left on his contract, so we’ll see if his lifestyle/diet/workout regimen helps slow down the effects of Father Time. This writer’s personal opinion is that Tom will be able to play at a high level again for at least this season, so the Patriots needn’t worry about his age affecting their Super Bowl aspirations.
The more concerning thing, in my opinion, is the lack of a quality developmental quarterback. No offense to Danny Etling, but his upside is probably somewhere around where Brian Hoyer is right now. The saying goes that it is better to take a quarterback a year too early rather than a year too late. And the Patriots definitely do not want to be in a situation where they have to start a rookie quarterback after Tom eventually retires. Etling will likely clear waivers and stick around on the practice squad as a cheap developmental option who does not need take up a spot on the 53-man roster. Hoyer is a fine backup and could hold down the fort for a few games if needed. But, as with most teams, the Patriots’ Super Bowl goals are likely out of the picture if Tom Brady suffers a season-ending injury. Let us hope it doesn’t come to that.
Stay tuned next week, as I take a look at the Patriots’ crowded running back room!