The New England Patriots are seemingly distancing themselves from almost every player they selected in the 2019 NFL Draft. On Friday, the Patriots released defensive lineman and 2020 starter Byron Cowart.
After spending the entire 2021 season on injured reserve, the writing was on the wall on Thursday after the Patriots placed five players on the active/physically unable to perform list. That designation gives injured players unable to participate in training camp more time to recover.
The Patriots are obviously interested in keeping them on the roster. Injured players that the team deems expendable are subject to be released. That may have been what happened in Cowart’s situation.
A Look at Cowart’s Career With the Patriots
Cowart played in just 5 games as a rookie before stepping into a full-time starter role in 2020. He played in and started 14 contests in 2020, tallying one sack, 27 tackles, 3 quarterback hits, and an 8 Approximate Value rating from Pro Football Reference.
After playing so frequently in 2020, some thought Cowart would join second-year defensive lineman Christian Barmore on a more athletic interior defensive line. Barmore will now likely be next to veteran Lawrence Guy for more snaps than not.
Cowart, a fifth-round selection, was just the latest in a long line of players from the Patriots’ 2019 NFL Draft to be released or traded this offseason.
The Patriots Are Cutting Ties With Most of Their 2019 Rookie Class
The Patriots drafted 10 players in 2019. Only four of those players are still with the team: Damien Harris, Yodny Cajuste, Joejuan Williams, and Jake Bailey. The number of holdovers from 2019 could shrink even more as neither Williams nor Cajuste’s spots on the roster are locks to make the 53-man squad.
- Fourth-round pick Hjalte Froholdt was done with the team before last season. He played in a total of eight games for the Patriots, all in 2020.
- Seventh-round pick Ken Webster never played a game for New England, and he didn’t play in the NFL during the 2021 season.
Aside from Froholdt and Webster, the Patriots have parted ways with the following 2019 picks during the current offseason:
- First Round – 32nd Overall Pick – WR – N’Keal Harry (Traded to the Chicago Bears for a seventh-round pick in 2024)
- Third Round – 77th Overall Pick – Edge – Chase Winovich (Traded to the Cleveland Browns for LB Mack Wilson)
- Fourth Round – 133rd Pick – QB – Jarrett Stidham – (Traded along with a 2023 seventh-round pick to the Las Vegas Raiders for a 2023 sixth-round pick)
With each of these players being shipped away for low-level draft compensation–especially Harry–it is impossible to miss how bad the 2019 NFL Draft was for the Patriots.
Harris has been a solid player when healthy, and Bailey made an All-Pro team. However, he’s a punter, and if someone at his position is the crown jewel of your draft class, it doesn’t say a lot about the overall crop of players.
Jakobi Meyers was a part of the 2019 rookie class and has led the Patriots in receptions and receiving yards the last two years. However, Meyers was an undrafted rookie free agent the team happened to hit on with a signing ahead of training camp.
What would the Patriots’ receivers have looked like if Meyers hadn’t overachieved?
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