Following the 53-man roster cutdown deadline Tuesday, many teams will make slight tweaks to their rosters. In addition to waiver claims, teams can begin constructing their 16-man practice squads today. These Bills, Dolphins, Jets and Patriots moves are noted below.
Here are Wednesday’s AFC East transactions, which will continue to be updated throughout the day.
The Patriots acknowledged some of their previous draft mistakes today. The team let go of three 2021 draft picks in wide receiver Tre Nixon, linebacker Will Sherman, and linebacker Cameron McGrone, and they even let go of a 2022 draft pick in sixth-round running back Kevin Harris. However, perhaps the biggest move was releasing tight end end Devin Asiasi. After waiving fellow 2020 third-round tight end Dalton Keene earlier this month, Asiasi was let go today. Despite his third-round status, Asiasi only saw time in 10 games for the Patriots in two years. With Asiasi and Keene out of the picture, it was expected that Lil’Jordan Humphrey would make the squad as a hybrid WR/TE. However, for the time being, the Patriots will roll with only two tight ends in Hunter Henry and Jonnu Smith.
Terrance Mitchell started 29 games over the past two seasons in stints with the Browns and Texans, and he had a chance to compete for a starting gig in New England. However, despite all the uncertainty surrounding the position, the veteran wasn’t able to make his mark, leading to a surprising release. Justin Bethel is another surprising cut, as the veteran has established himself as a special teams ace in recent years.
Hoyer’s third stint with the Patriots will continue. Hoyer was brought in last year to mentor Mac Jones and played a role in the rookie’s development. Now, heading into Year Two, the Pats may have a top-10 caliber QB in Jones and a steady veteran backstop behind him.
“Brian’s been a really close friend of mine since I’ve gotten here, and I know he’s older than me, and [I] might be closer in age to his son, Garrett, but he’s still a really good mentor, and he just does a great job every week,” Jones said in October (via Jim McBride of The Boston Globe). “He’s super supportive of me and trying to help me in any way he can, and, you know, he’s hard on me sometimes, which is good, so he holds me to a high standard, and then he also has fun and enjoys the game, so he’s been around for a long time, and I think all the quarterbacks in our room have done that, and Brian is just a great example of a great team leader and a great team player.’’
Hoyer, entering his 14th pro year, saw time in five games last year, completing nine of eleven passes. He’ll be re-joined by guard/center James Ferentz, who also agreed to a new deal on Monday, per McBride.
New England will be without its slot cornerback for at least three games. The Patriots moved Jonathan Jones to IR due to a shoulder injury.
The team is bracing for an extended Jones absence, according to ESPN.com’s Mike Reiss. It is unclear if a three-game break will be enough time, but Jones is down until at least Week 10 because of this transaction.
In his sixth season with the Patriots, Jones has worked his way from UDFA to regular inside defender with the team. Pro Football Focus slotted Jones fifth among all corners in 2020 but has not graded his 2021 performance nearly as well, viewing his work as barely top-100 worthy at the position. But Jones, whose $7MM-per-year Pats extension runs through 2022, will have some time to get healthy.
The Patriots worked out veterans Brian Poole, D.J. Hayden and De’Vante Bausby this week but did not sign them. Second-year cover man Myles Bryant is most likely to serve as Jones’ fill-in, Reiss adds. Late-summer trade acquisition Shawn Wade remains out due to a concussion.
In other Saturday Pats news, they promoted offensive lineman James Ferentz and defensive tackle Daniel Ekuale from their practice squad.