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The Patriots Just Made These Three Bold Roster Moves

A lot of teams see the 53-man roster selection as a checkpoint, but while this Patriots team lacks star power, they're ever-so-deep this year, and selecting 53 isn't easy. Some of the moves were straightforward, others weren't. Here's what stood out to Patriots Nation on (and around) a busy cuts day.

The Patriots' Long-Overdue Admission Of Faith

Zappe fever is officially over. Backup QB Bailey Zappe, along with rookie QB Malik Cunningham, as well as QB Trace McSorley, found themselves on the outside of the roster picture looking in. Mac Jones was the only quarterback on the entire roster when the cuts were all said and done.

This does come as a bit of a surprise. McSorley certainly showed himself to be little more than a camp arm, but Cunningham showed promise as a dual-threat option, and Zappe of course had been serviceable in relief of Jones last year, so much so that lots of fans were calling for him to start. Zappe's rough preseason, however, likely was insufficient to keep a place on the 53.

The real significance of this, though, has nothing to do with Cunningham, Zappe, or McSorley. Mac's future with the team had been questioned by many, as had Belichick's faith in him. However, the significance of this was obvious - the organization was finally doing what they needed to do for Mac - trust him. He's had a great camp and preseason, has an OC he can work with, and heading into a year that will decide whether or not he will get a fifth-year option, he's finally getting the keys to himself with no reservations.

The Patriots won't just keep one QB, nor should they. Finding a backup, ideally a veteran who can be a strong locker room/sideline presence for Mac, (as well as relief in needed) is going to be a priority for the Patriots as far as end-of-offseason transactions are concerned. But regardless of who they sign, if this wasn't already clear, it is clear now - this is Mac's team in 2023.

Pass Catchers Galore

Stevenson, Elliot, Henry, Gesicki, Thornton, Bourne, Douglas, Boutte, Smith-Schuster, Parker. That's ten (10) pass-catching options for Mac Jones, almost 20% of the entire roster. It seems like a high number, but none of them could reasonably be cut. Stevenson is of course the RB1, with Elliot being a valuable backup and third down/red zone option. Henry and Gesicki have the potential to be a promising TE duo, and all six wide receivers have either proven themselves already at the NFL level or have shown immense potential to do so.

Mac doesn't necessarily have that flagship number-one option, but he has a lot of options, and he'll have up to six options on the field in certain packages to throw to, all of whom will be solid. For someone who loves distributing the ball to multiple options and does so quite accurately, this can be a good situation for Jones should the OL allow for it. In addition, given the propensity for injury of some of these playmakers, depth is a must.

That's All, Folk-s

It feels ridiculous to say - the Patriots cut Nick Folk. This isn't actually all that surprising, Folk did have plant leg issues, and Ryland had a promising preseason after being taken in the fourth round of the draft. However, a year after Folk set the NFL record for consecutive FGs made outside of 50 yards, it's surprising that this was an action that was even considered.

Folk didn't miss a kick in the entire preseason and was one of the most reliable entities on the entire team over the last few years. He did miss a few kicks late last year and had limitations with range, but he was overall one of the better kickers in the entire league. His contributions, veteran presence, and poise are going to be missed on the team.

Ryland is promising, though. He's got enough leg to kick off and kick up to at least 55 with some consistency. He was exceptionally accurate in college as well, and there's a reason the Patriots took him. Should he play to potential, he can be one of the league's best. The Patriots were smart to get him traded, chose a team in Tennessee that had a horrible kicker situation to trade to, and got a seventh out of it.


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