Patriots Players Who Need Impressive Camp to Avoid Being Cut

Jake RillFeatured Columnist IJuly 12, 2021

Patriots Players Who Need Impressive Camp to Avoid Being Cut

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    Steven Senne/Associated Press

    The New England Patriots have brought in a bunch of new players this offseason. They were among the most active teams during free agency, and they added a wave of incoming rookies during the 2021 NFL draft.

    But the Pats are also bringing back plenty of players from last year's roster. Because of that, there are sure to be some interesting position battles throughout camp. And for some, how they perform in practices, drills and preseason games could dictate whether they even make the team's roster for the upcoming season.

    By the time New England's Week 1 matchup against the Miami Dolphins arrives, its roster will be down to 53 players. So there will be a lot of cuts that take place before then.

    Here's a look at three players who could be in danger of being cut at some point during camp July 28-31.

N'Keal Harry, WR

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    Steven Senne/Associated Press

    Since being selected in the first round of the 2019 draft, Harry hasn't lived up to expectations. He didn't make much of an impact during his rookie campaign, and he didn't produce big numbers in 2020, hauling in 33 passes for 309 yards and two touchdowns.

    New England has improved its receiving corps this offseason, which included the signings of free agents Nelson Agholor and Kendrick Bourne. So if Harry doesn't have a strong preseason, he could be in danger of getting cut, even though it would result in a $2 million cap hit, per ESPN's Mike Reiss.

    However, Harry may not have the chance to be cut if he gets traded before then. NFL Network's Mike Garafolo recently shared a statement from Harry's agent, Jamal Tooson, in which he stated that he had informed the Patriots that Harry is "formally requesting a trade."

    But how much interest will there be in Harry? The former Arizona State wide receiver is still only 23 and perhaps he could better live up to his potential with a fresh start in a new offense.

    If Harry doesn't get dealt, though, perhaps the Pats will cut him, unless he has an impressive camp.

Carl Davis, DT

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    Elise Amendola/Associated Press

    Another area of the Patriots roster that has improved this offseason is the defensive line. They signed Davon Godchaux and Henry Anderson during free agency, then added former Alabama defensive tackle Christian Barmore in the second round of the draft.

    With the new talent up front, several New England defensive linemen who were contributors in 2020 will now be battling to stay on the team heading into this season. That includes Davis, a 29-year-old who signed with the Patriots last October.

    Davis played three games last season for New England, which included one start, before he was placed on injured reserve in November with a concussion. Still, the Pats thought he could provide valuable depth, as they re-signed him to a one-year, $1.08 million deal in March.

    Things have changed a bit since then, though, with the Patriots roster improving. So even though they brought Davis back, there's a chance he may not make the roster as the team will only be able to carry so many defensive linemen, and there are quite a few ahead of Davis on the depth chart.

    Davis could solidify a spot and remain on the roster by performing well leading up to the season.

Nick Folk, K

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    Elise Amendola/Associated Press

    After a shaky first season with the Patriots in 2019, Folk bounced back and had a better showing in 2020, making 26 of his 28 field-goal attempts in 16 games. That 92.9 percentage ranked as the best in his 13-year career.

    However, NFL kickers can quickly lose their jobs with a short bad stretch. And Folk is going to turn 37 in November, so it's unlikely he'll keep improving in 2021 and beyond.

    Plus, the Patriots have brought in a rookie kicker, Michigan's Quinn Nordin. If the undrafted free agent impresses during camp, he could push Folk out of the job and emerge as New England's kicker of the future.

    Of course, Folk won't be in any danger if he keeps kicking well and Nordin doesn't show an extraordinary leg in camp. But if there's any competition at all, Nordin could supplant Folk, who may be getting closer to the end of his career.

    So it will be important for Folk to go out and impress this preseason to make sure he stays on the team.