NEPD Editor: Mike Loyko
The Patriots have to make their first round of cuts by tomorrow afternoon, cutting down their roster to 75 players. Four days later they have to cut down their roster by another 22 players to get to the 53 man roster limit. The best way to project how the Patriots will construct their 2012 roster is to look back at how they have constucted previous rosters over the past 12 seasons. This is a historical, position by position breakdown of how many players the Patriots have kept at each position since Bill Belichick became coach in 2000.
What can be taken away from this table? For one thing, when cutting down the roster the defense provides much more flexibility when cutting down the roster. Besides the running back position and the offensive line the Patriots have been relatively consistent with the number of players they keep at each position on offense. They prefer to keep three Quarterbacks, the exception being 2000, when they kept a fourth because they didn’t want to put Tom Brady through waivers (Smart). It’s safe to assume that the Patriots will keep either four or five total running backs and fullbacks this year along with six wide receivers. If they want to create an extra roster spot or two it can usually come by keeping fewer offensive linemen. Keeping nine OL is the standard, but they have shown a willingness to keep only eight and they may do so this year.
On defense, the ability of players to play multiple positions creates a lot more flexibility when cutting down the roster. Historically they have kept between 8-10 linebackers, but with the defense playing more of a 4-3 defense they will keep closer to ten DL this year and fewer linebackers. Bill Belichick loves to keep extra safeties around and has kept up to six on the roster in the past. Remember, there is no script to follow when cutting down rosters and it changes year to year. Breaking it down in this format gives us a good idea of how Bill Belichick likes to shape his roster.
If your interested in who I think will make the Patriots roster this year, here is my latest roster projection.