This is not a fun day for NFL general managers, personnel men, and many players that are on the fringe of making the NFL. Teams are only allowed to have 53 players on the roster, so some guys simply won't make an NFL roster. With only seven spots on the practice squad, today marks the end of their NFL dream. New England pared their roster down to 53, and there were a few players that were surprises, but the one disappointing cut was wide receiver Reggie Wayne, who asked the team to release him. It is believed that Wayne is set to retire, and it would make sense that he didn't want to retire in a Patriots uniform. Here are the rest of the cuts from today:
TE Asante Cleveland, LB Darius Fleming, RB Jonas Gray, CB Robert McClain, DL Zach Moore, WR Jalen Saunders, WR Reggie Wayne, CB Daxton Swanson, CB Justin Coleman, OLB Xzavier Dickson, and S Brandon King.
Besides Wayne, CB Robert McClain is a player that many expected to make the roster but was beat out, most likely by one of the SIX safeties on the roster. Jonas Gray is another player Patriots fans have grown to like that was released. Here is how the 53-man roster breaks down:
QB- Tom Brady, Jimmy Garoppolo
No surprises here; it was just a matter of waiting for the suspension to be lifted. Ryan Lindley was not going to be on this roster if Brady wasn't suspended.
RB- Brandon Bolden, James White, Dion Lewis, Travaris Cadet. *susp. LeGarrette Blount
Three third-down backs and one big back is different, but it is important to remember how game plan specific Belichick can be, and he'll find a way to make it work. Dion Lewis is a much better runner than he gets credit for, and Bolden makes plays if the holes are there.
WR- Julian Edelman, Danny Amendola, Aaron Dobson, Chris Harper, Matt Slater, PUP-Brandon LaFell
It's a bit of a gamble going into the season with basically four wide receivers (Slater is special teams only) but with all the running backs that can catch out of the backfield and four tight ends, New England has plenty of options in the passing game that will allow them to do just fine until the return of Brandon LaFell.
TE- Rob Gronkowski, Scott Chandler, Michael Hoomanawanui, Michael Williams
Williams was a surprise, but I can see the Patriots using him the same way they used Nate Solder; as an extra tackle in the running game that could make a catch if he had to in the passing game. Gronkowski and Chandler are going to cause nightmares for defensive coordinators.
OT- Nate Solder, Sebastian Vollmer, Marcus Cannon, Cameron Fleming
No surprises here; this is one of the few positions that we projected accurately.
OG- Ryan Wendell, Tre' Jackson, Shaq Mason, Josh Kline
Another position with no surprises. Some thought Wendell might be in trouble because he wasn't able to get on the field, but he returned in time to reclaim his roster spot. Shaq Mason needs work with his pass-blocking, but he's still ready to play in an NFL game.
C- Bryan Stork, David Andrews
Stork was hurt throughout training camp, but he isn't on the PUP so he should be good to go. We here at Patriots Insider were high on David Andrews when he signed with New England, and apparently we weren't the only ones. With Stork still nursing injuries, Andrews may see playing time right away.
DT- Dominique Easley, Malcom Brown, Sealver Siliga, Alan Branch
A good mix of young and experienced, this group may be one of the best on the roster. Yes, the loss of Wilfork will be felt, but first year player Dominique Easley and rookie Malcom Brown give the Patriots two talented tackles that they can hopefully lean on for at least the next five seasons.
DE- Rob Ninkovich, Chandler Jones, Jabaal Sheard, Trey Flowers, Geneo Grissom, Rufus Johnson
Do you think the Patriots are looking to beef up their pass rush? Good depth and talent in this group; nobody should be tired and the rotation could be one of the best in the NFL. Trey Flowers showed in preseason that he makes plays, a lot of plays. Jones will play inside a lot so Patricia can use Sheard at the end position; just another way to ensure the best 11 players are on the field as much as possible.
LB- Dont'a Hightower, Jamie Collins, Jerod Mayo, Eric Martin, Jonathan Freeny
Good flexibility with this group, they just need to stay healthy. Jerod Mayo hasn't played in basically two seasons, so the jury is still out on him. Freeny and Martin looked good in camp and provide solid depth, not to mention good special teams ability.
CB- Malcolm Butler, Tarell Brown, Bradley Fletcher, Logan Ryan
The only surprise with this group was the release of nickel back Robert McClain, a veteran who looked like a solid fit for this roster. Apparently someone else at another position out-valued McClain and cost him his job.
S- Devin McCourty, Patrick Chung, Jordan Richards, Duron Harmon, Nate Ebner, Tavon Wilson
Six safeties seems (is) excessive, but it is important to note that Harmon, Ebner, and Wilson are excellent special teams players and also provide solid depth. Rookie Jordan Richards is going to get solid playing time if he continues to play like he did in preseason.
K- Stephen Gostkowski
Not much to say here; they just signed him to a long-term deal, so why even bother to bring in competition?
P- Ryan Allen
Same deal as Gostkowski; Allen was given a new deal too and he's been one of the best punters in the NFL in his first two seasons.
LS- Joe Cardona
The rookie has a tough job, but he is the highest selected long-snapper in NFL Draft history, so the talent is clearly there.
This is just the first version of the 2015 Patriots as things change week to week with injuries, players returning from suspension or the PUP list, or a possible trade or free agent signing.
Follow me @chris_simoneau