Van Noy can also move to off-ball linebacker full time. Winovich and Judon have experience in the box, as well.
This is another position New England could look to upgrade in free agency. Jason McCourty is still available, and the Patriots have six open spots on their roster.
The Patriots can keep just four safeties since Bryant, Jones and Williams can all play the position. Special-teamer Cody Davis only played two snaps at safety last season for New England but took on a greater defensive role in past stops with the Jacksonville Jaguars and Los Angeles Rams.
SPECIAL TEAMS (6)
If we’re being realistic, even including Bolden, the Patriots will probably keep one more core special-teamer. The top options are Brandon King and LaRoy Reynolds. King has missed two full seasons after tearing his quad in 2019, so we’re unsure on his status. He remains on the roster, however.
Like Bolden, they are initial cut candidates who could be brought back after a player is placed on injured reserve.
Rookie linebacker Cameron McGrone tore his ACL in November and is a candidate to begin the season on the PUP list.
CANDIDATES TO RETURN
RB Brandon Bolden
LB Brandon King
LB LaRoy Reynolds
LB Raekwon McMillan
Bolden, and either King or Reynolds are candidates to stick around in some capacity for special teams. The Patriots could use McMillan for more depth at linebacker. McMillan also could beat out Hall, Bentley or Jennings.
TOP PRACTICE SQUAD CANDIDATES
FB Jakob Johnson
WR Tre Nixon
WR Kristian Wilkerson
LB Terez Hall
S Joshuah Bledsoe
We have five (Jones, Barmore, Perkins, Stevenson and Sherman) of the Patriots’ eight-man draft class making the roster with McGrone starting on the PUP list and Nixon and Bledsoe currently on the outside looking in. The Patriots have yet to sign any undrafted free agents.