The Patriots opted for a busy weekend in the personnel office with today’s transactions. They started by activating wide receiver Tyquan Thornton from injured reserve. Unfortunately, this was followed up by the team finally deciding to place star pass rusher Matt Judon on IR, along with recently acquired tackle Tyrone Wheatley Jr. With a new spare roster spot, New England signed practice squad quarterback Malik Cunningham to the active roster. Finally, the Patriots announced their standard gameday practice squad elevations would be defensive tackle Jeremiah Pharms and wide receiver Jalen Reagor.
Let’s start with Thornton. One of the couple of moves here aimed at providing a spark on the offensive side of the ball, bringing back Thornton was a necessity. As JuJu Smith-Schuster and Demario Douglas deal with injuries, Thornton will come in as a reinforcement to earn targets alongside DeVante Parker, Kendrick Bourne, and Kayshon Boutte. Thornton didn’t quite live up to the high expectations of his draft stock last year as a rookie, but he’s one of the few returning receivers that quarterback Mac Jones worked with last year. He’ll hope to redeem himself a bit in Year 2 with the Patriots.
After multiple reports that he would be out indefinitely, Judon has finally been placed on IR. Based on the team slow-playing that transaction, it was already doubtful that Judon would make a return this season. Now, the earliest he could return from IR would be in Week 10. He’s joined on IR by Wheatley Jr., who was acquired in the trade that sent running back Pierre Strong to Cleveland.
The addition of Cunningham is an interesting move. He has the potential to provide a spark on offense in two ways. New England has worked him out plenty at wide receiver since signing him as an undrafted free agent, but Cunningham surpassed a lot of Lamar Jackson‘s passing marks as a quarterback at Louisville, ranking fourth all-time for passing yards and fifth all-time for passing touchdowns. Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reports that Cunningham’s return to the active roster will result in a three-year contract.
This will be Pharm’s third game being called up from the practice squad. He’s gotten a few snaps rotating in on the defensive line in the team’s last two blowout losses. Reagor was called up last week but didn’t actually see the field.