The return of Josh Gordon this month added clarity to the wide receiver position for

The New England Patriots will cut their roster to 53 players by 4 p.m. ET Saturday. Here’s a projection:

QUARTERBACK (3): Tom Brady, Brian Hoyer, Jarrett Stidham

In the words of coach , “Nobody needs insurance until you need insurance.” With Brady looking to make history as the only 42-year-old quarterback to start all 16 regular-season games, keeping two quality players on the depth chart behind him is smart business. Plus, Hoyer has been excellent this preseason, not to mention that his value as a scout-team quarterback was cited by players as a key in their 2018 Super Bowl championship season.

RUNNING BACK (5): Sony Michel, James White, Rex Burkhead, Damien Harris, Brandon Bolden

Undrafted free agent Nick Brossette and recently signed Robert Martin are the cuts. Michel looked good in his most extensive work of the preseason on Thursday, and he has appeared to be more comfortable as a pass-catcher in practices, which could help make less predictable when he is in the game.

FULLBACK (1): James Develin

Undrafted free-agent Andrew Beck and international player Jakob Johnson are the cuts, with each of them considerations to keep on the practice squad. Develin was a big part of ’ transition to a smash-mouth running team late last season.

WIDE RECEIVER (6): Julian Edelman, Josh Gordon, N’Keal Harry, Demaryius Thomas, Phillip Dorsett, Jakobi Meyers

Two weeks ago, Belichick was assessing the competition at the position and declared it “to be determined.” That was a result of Edelman, Gordon and Thomas having yet to practice. They’re all back, and now the outlook at the position is much different. The cuts are Gunner Olszewski (I tried hard to keep him as a punt returner but just ran out of spots), Braxton Berrios, Ryan Davis and Damoun Patterson, with Cameron Meredith remaining on the physically unable to perform list.

TIGHT END (2): Ryan Izzo, Matt LaCosse

figure to be on the lookout around the for help at tight end, and it wouldn’t be shocking if the club keeps just one player at this spot initially. Veterans Benjamin Watson (four games) and Lance Kendricks (one game) face early-season suspensions and could find their way back to the team later in the season. The cuts are Stephen Anderson and Eric Saubert.

OFFENISVE LINE (7): Isaiah Wynn, Joe Thuney, Shaq Mason, Marcus Cannon, Ted Karras, Hjalte Froholdt, James Ferentz

This is a strategic play to go light on the offensive line at the outset in order to keep an extra player at another position, factoring in the likelihood of a waiver claim/trade to bolster the ranks — and also how more depth can be built on the practice squad (tackles Dan Skipper and Cole Croston, for example). The cuts are Skipper, Croston, Tyler Gauthier, Martez Ivey, Cedrick Lang and Tyree St. Louis. Center David Andrews‘ season is in jeopardy and third-round pick Yodny Cajuste remains on the non-football injury list.

DEFENSIVE LINE (6): Lawrence Guy, Michael Bennett, Danny Shelton, Adam Butler, Byron Cowart, Deatrich Wise Jr.

Mike Pennel, Ufomba Kamalu, David Parry and Nick Thurman are the cuts, with Pennel having been let go Monday, in part because Shelton outplayed him.

LINEBACKER (7): Dont’a Hightower, Kyle Van Noy, Jamie Collins, John Simon, Chase Winovich, Ja’Whaun Bentley, Calvin Munson

This projects a trade of four-year veteran Elandon Roberts, who might have a greater opportunity elsewhere, as this depth chart is deep. I could be way off, but I thought Munson (who also has core special-teams potential) played his way on to the roster with his Week 2 performance in Tennessee. Injuries to Derek Rivers and Shilique Calhoun cloud their roster status, as it’s unclear when they will be available. Trent Harris, Terez Hall, Christian Sam and Scooby Wright III are the cuts.

SECONDARY (11): Stephon Gilmore, Jason McCourty, Jonathan Jones, J.C. Jackson, Joejuan Williams, Duke Dawson, Keion Crossen, Devin McCourty, Patrick Chung, Duron Harmon, Terrence Brooks

I view cornerback as the deepest position on the team, and if the club could receive some value in return in a trade, perhaps that would be a consideration with the back end of the depth chart (perhaps with Dawson and Crossen). Seventh-round pick Ken Webster is the lone cut, and he is a strong practice-squad consideration. At safety, Obi Melifonwu is a tough cut, as some early momentum he built in training camp was slowed when he was sidelined with an undisclosed injury late in training camp/preseason. Undrafted Malik Gant and A.J. Howard are the other cuts, with both being practice squad possibilities.

SPECIALISTS (5): K Stephen Gostkowski, P Jake Bailey, LS Joe Cardona, Matthew Slater (coverage), Nate Ebner (coverage)

Bailey, the fifth-round pick from Stanford, beat out veteran Ryan Allen for the job after two preseason games and also is a consideration to handle kickoffs to lighten the load on Gostkowski.


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