FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- The New England Patriots made three trades and 38 other moves, conforming their roster to the NFL-mandated 53 players. Here’s a closer look at the final moves:
Most significant move: Acquiring receiver/punt returner Phillip Dorsett from the Indianapolis Colts for quarterback Jacoby Brissett. The Patriots had a significant need at receiver after Julian Edelman tore his right ACL on Aug. 25. Furthermore, Edelman was one of the NFL’s best punt returners, a spot that was depleted even more when top backup Cyrus Jones tore his right ACL on Aug. 31. Dorsett potentially fills at least one of those voids, if not both. Dorsett had not met first-round expectations in Indianapolis, and Brissett provided valuable insurance at the game’s most important position, so this deal comes with some risk for the Patriots. But he has a standout trait -- speed -- that can’t be taught. Now let’s see if the Patriots can harness it into something greater in their system.
‘Loaded’ Patriots use draft picks to fill immediate needs: In a year when many viewed the Patriots as loaded, it was notable that coach Bill Belichick and director of player personnel Nick Caserio made two trades involving future late-round draft picks to address what they felt were immediate needs. They obviously didn’t view the roster as loaded when they acquired special-teams standout Johnson Bademosi from the Lions for a 2019 sixth-round pick and defensive end Cassius Marsh from the Seahawks for fifth- and seventh-round draft picks. Usually it’s the stacked teams that turn players such as those into future draft picks, so this was a decisive snapshot of what Belichick viewed as the deficiencies/needed upgrades on the roster.
Karras is biggest cut surprise; thin on interior: Second-year center/guard Ted Karras, a sixth-round pick out of Illinois last year, wasn’t expected to be on the list of players let go. He was projected as the top interior backup. As the roster stands now, the Patriots’ top three backups are two tackles and one tackle/guard. If Karras clears waivers, he will be a top candidate to return to the practice squad.
Hollister is 2017 surprise addition: There is always one longshot surprise on the initial 53-man roster, and this year it is undrafted free-agent tight end Jacob Hollister (Wyoming), who beat trade acquisition James O’Shaughnessy on cut-down day. Although it’s possible that Hollister isn’t completely safe -- the Patriots often continue to make moves with their practice squad in mind in the days following the initial cut -- this speaks volumes about how the Patriots feel about him. Fellow undrafted players Adam Butler (defensive tackle, Vanderbilt), Cole Croston (offensive lineman, Iowa) and Harvey Langi (linebacker, BYU) also made the initial 53. Fan favorite Austin Carr, a wide receiver from Northwestern, didn’t make the cut but perhaps could return on the practice squad.
Waived (30): DT Josh Augusta (injured); DE Mikey Bart; LB Trevor Bates; WR Austin Carr; TE Sam Cotton; RB LeShun Daniels Jr.; G Jamil Douglas; LB Brooks Ellis; C James Ferentz; RB D.J. Foster; DE Geneo Grissom; FB Glenn Gronkowski; DT Woodrow Hamilton (injured); WR Cody Hollister; S David Jones; C/G Ted Karras; DT Darius Kilgo; CB D.J. Killings (injured); G Jason King; CB/PR Will Likely; WR Devin Lucien (injured); WR K.J. Maye; OT Conor McDermott; CB Kenny Moore; TE James O’Shaughnessy; OT Max Rich; S Jason Thompson; S Damarius Travis; LB Nick Usher; WR Tony Washington
Injured reserve (3): WR Julian Edelman; CB Cyrus Jones; DE Derek Rivers
Non-football illness (1): OT Tony Garcia