Patriots Could Cut Notable Pair of Young Playmakers, Insider Predicts

Bill Belichick

Getty Bill Belichick may not keep exciting rookies Malik Cunningham and Kayshon Boutte for the active roster.

While the New England Patriots brought on two promising rookie playmakers in Malik Cunningham and Kayshon Boutte, both appear headed for cuts.

That’s how’s Evan Lazar sees it amid his 53-man roster prediction. New England drafted Boutte, a former LSU star wide receiver, in the sixth round of the NFL Draft. Cunningham, a former Louisville star quarterback, signed as an undrafted free agent.

For Cunningham, he even moved over to receiver for mandatory minicamp, but the Patriots simply have too many receivers for him and Boutte to crack the 53-man roster. Lazar predicts the Patriots will only take five receivers — all veterans except for rookie Demario Douglas, who also went in the sixth round.

“As for the fifth receiver spot, Douglas gets the nod due to his versatility and potential as a gadget/slot type, along with Boutte’s injury,” Lazar wrote. “You can’t make the club from the tub.”

Boutte showed promise at LSU with 131 catches for 1,782 yards and 16 touchdowns in 27 career games. However, he has an injury history with a prior pedal ankle fracture, and it required two surgeries.

As for Cunningham, he came to New England with a talented skill set of running and throwing the ball. Cunningham previously expressed willingness to play elsewhere besides quarterback and it paid off with a shot at making New England’s roster.

“Cunningham was better than expected but needs at least a year to develop on the practice squad,” Lazar wrote.

At Louisville, Cunningham shined on the field at quarterback amid 9,660 yards passing and 3,221 yards rushing in his career. He never ran a receiver route before the NFL, but expressed his drive to succeed with the Patriots.

“There’s some days where I’m like, man I’m overwhelmed. But I just take a deep breath and take it day by day,” Cunningham told reporters via FOX Sports’ Henry McKenna.

Malik Cunningham Hopes to Follow in Julian Edelman’s Footsteps

Cunningham hopes he can follow in the footsteps of another former quarterback turned receiver who played the Patriots. That’s Julian Edelman, who helped the Patriots win three Super Bowls after a collegiate career at quarterback with Kent State.

“Just the culture and the Julian Edelman stories — the guys that played quarterback in college and moved over to receiver,” Cunningham told reporters via “Seeing those guys do it and I know — not that I’m more athletic than those guys, but we’re all on the same level, so I feel like I can do it.”

Patriots Could Cut Another WR if DeAndre Hopkins Signs

Another receiver could join Cunningham and Boutte on the cut block if the Patriots succeed in signing DeAndre Hopkins. Lazar called that possibility “a massive turn” for the depth chart if Hopkins signs.

Hopkins visited the Patriots in mid June after his late-May release from the Arizona Cardinals. A five-time Pro Bowler, Hopkins can still play at a high level amid his 106 catches for 1,289 yards and 11 touchdowns in his past 19 games.

While Lazar didn’t name Douglas a cut candidate in that instance, all of the receivers ahead of Douglas have a year or more of NFL experience. Douglas had a promising collegiate career at Liberty amid 172 catches for 2,193 yards and 16 touchdowns in 40 games.

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