There is a lot of talk about the New England Patriots’ Wild Card round matchup with the Titans being the last home game for Tom Brady and several other impending free agents. Though the focus remains strictly on Tennessee, that thought has to be on some of the players’ minds.
But the NFL is a business. And there could also be several players on the roster now who may not be in here in 2020, and it isn’t because their contracts expired.
The Patriots have been known to cut players loose in a surprising manner for years, including established veterans to trim salary or upgrade the position with a younger guy. Next season will be no exception and some tough cuts will have to be made.
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Here’s who could be on the way out for 2020.
To start off, Patriots fans should have nothing but respect for Cannon. He has carried himself with class on and off the field while the way he overcame cancer as a rookie to still become an established starter in the NFL remains one of the most motivational stories in the league.
But his performance slipped a great deal in 2019 while injuries also began to take a toll. The Patriots could release Cannon out of training camp after pitting him in a competition for the starting role.
Replacement: New England has young tackles Korey Cunningham and Yodny Cajuste waiting in the wings, both commanding less payroll than Cannon.
The Patriots have gotten good production out of the role-playing edge rusher. The lone 2017 draft pick from a forgettable class to truly pan out, Wise has earned respect on and off the field for the Patriots.
However, penalties have begun to pile up for Wise and he has shown less of an ability to help stop the run this season. Wise was a bubble player coming into the season and New England may explore other options entirely next season.
Replacement: Chase Winovich has already started to see more snaps than Wise while John Simon has proven a more effective option at the position throughout the year.
The long-time Patriots safety ran into some trouble off the field just before the 2019 season and his legal issues will follow him into the offseason. The Patriots have separated themselves from players with similar issues in the past and next year might see the same thing happen.
For Chung, injuries have hindered his production in 2019 and some of his payroll could be used to help resign Devin McCourty, Lawrence Guy, or Kyle Van Noy.
Replacement: Terrence Brooks and converted corner Joejuan Williams could be internal options at the position while New England may explore other options in the draft.
The leading scorer in franchise history, Gostkowski’s accuracy has dipped over the past few years. A hip injury forced him to miss almost the entire 2019 season and it isn’t clear how that will impact him in the future.
New England has been flexible at punter over the past few years, bringing in preseason competition and even cutting long-time punter Ryan Allen last offseason. Gostkowski could meet the same fate this year.
Replacement: Though Nick Folk is a free agent, he’s more than proven himself capable this season to take the job in 2020. The Patriots may even opt to go with a rookie next year with several talented options coming out of college.
Another pillar in the Patriots’ offense, his season-ending injury created a ripple effect across the entire team. New England struggled to run without his blocking until Elandon Roberts grew into the role.
Develin has made Pro Bowls in the past, but a neck injury like this could affect the remainder of his career. Not to mention the Patriots have used two-way players in the past. A number change into the forties for Roberts and he’s good to go both ways.