The Patriots’ roster is never really set. We spend all offseason planning which free agents and draftees would make an impact, then football starts, guys start getting hurt and underperforming and all those best laid plans are out the window. This leaves the Patriots to scramble,
It seems like almost every year the Patriots are picking up some castoff in the middle of the season who ends up becoming a contributor despite missing all of training camp and being a part of no one’s big plans for the season.
The roster juggling has continued this week for the Pats, with Shea McClelin suffering a setback, Ricky Jean Francois joining the team and Martellus Bennett suddenly becoming available after he was cut last night by the Packers.
Let’s take a quick look at those three and how they could impact the rest of the Patriots season.
Just when Shea McClellin had me hoping and wishing he’d come back, he suffered an unfortunate setback and will now spend the rest of the year on IR. I’ve never been a huge McClellin fan, but considering the loss of Dont’a Hightower the Pats could use just about any linebacker at this point, so yes, this is another blow.
This means even more pressure on Kyle Van Noy, Elandon Roberts, David Harris and Cassius Marsh. If the Pats win the Super Bowl this year it will be with the most unremarkable linebacker group they’ve had. Will this position group be their downfall? It’s an easy first place to look, but they’ve been improving each week and might really be clicking by January.
The addition of Jean Francois tells us that Malcom Brown could be out for a while with his ankle injury. Again, this is another tough blow to the 2017 Patriots. Brown had elevated his game this year and was one of the key pieces up front as the defense rounded into form over recent weeks.
Alan Branch and Lawrence Guy are still a pretty good top two for the Pats defensive front, and Jean Francois should likely be no more than a rotational and depth guy behind them, but the signs that Brown will be out for a while are another injury gut punch in a season that has been jammed with them.
Finally, I know everyone is clamoring to bring Martellus Bennett back and of course it would make a ton of sense but I think there are way too many questions surrounding his current health and state of mind, not to mention that I’m sure a number of other teams will put a claim on him, that I just can’t see him ending up back in New England.
We’ve likely just scratched the surface of this story, with the Packers possibly trying to recoup the free agent money they paid Bennett. The other crappy part is this could mean the Pats lost the compensatory draft pick they would’ve received for him. If another team claims him that pick could be back on, but it would’ve been a 4th or 5th rounder if Bennett finished the year with the Packers.