As the date to trim NFL rosters to 53 players got closer, it was speculated that quarterback Ryan Mallett and running back Stevan Ridley were among those on the bubble to make the final Patriots cut.
After the team released 19 players and placed one on injured reserve on Saturday, Mallett and Ridley were still there on the roster. Others like Brandon Bolden, Ryan Wendell, Chris White, Jordan Devey, Chris Barker and Chris White also made the cut. Of course, roster moves will occur throughout the season, and just because a player makes the 53-man list doesn't mean his spot is safe for the duration of his contract. Below is our quick reaction to those whose jobs are secure for now.
Ryan Mallett: Trade him? Release him? Keep him for depth? The options for the 26-year-old quarterback varied wildly leading up to final cuts. In the end, it appears as though the Patriots value the route they took during Mallett's rookie season. With Tom Brady as the obvious starter, have a veteran backup to provide stability and depth (that was Brian Hoyer during Mallett's rookie year) while the first-year player gets his legs under him. The roster spot that Mallett occupies has significant value so if at any point the Patriots feel as though it's safe to have Jimmy Garoppolo as the No. 2, they could make a move.
Stevan Ridley: When Ridley fumbled against the Eagles in New England's second preseason game, he didn't get a carry for a remainder of the game. He got only eight carries against the Panthers in preseason game No. 3. Still, his burst and ability to run through contact give him enough value to warrant a roster spot -- even despite his fumbling issues. Without him, the team would be short a running back who can create chunks of yardage on his own between the tackles.
Ryan Wendell: The veteran center's spot looked tenuous when the Patriots selected center Bryan Stork in the fourth round of this year's draft. That Dan Connolly received a good number of reps at center with Brady during training camp didn't seem to help Wendell's chances of making the 53-man roster. But when Stork suffered an injury early in camp, Wendell's presence became more important. Now that Logan Mankins is in Tampa Bay, Connolly appears locked in at one guard spot, which means the depth the Patriots have at center with both Wendell and Stork (when healthy) more of a necessity.
Chris White: Now in his fourth year in the NFL, White has clearly made a name for himself as a special teamer. This is where he's likely to provide the most value to the Patriots, although their depth at linebacker is thin. There isn't much behind Jerod Mayo, Dont'a Hightower and Jamie Collins.
Darius Fleming: Another depth linebacker who could fill a role or two in the kicking game, Fleming's story to a 53-man roster spot is a good one. He has suffered two torn ACLs since leaving Notre Dame two years ago, and now he's healthy going into September for the first time in his professional career.
Jordan Devey: There's no one on the Patriots who played more preseason snaps than Devey. After sticking with the Patriots practice squad last season, the 26-year-old in his second year out of Memphis (he went on a Mormon mission trip out of high school that delayed the start of his college career) has displayed a versatility on the line that the Patriots hold in high esteem.
Chris Barker: On the roster for all 16 regular-season games last season, Barker did not play a single snap. He hasn't flashed much in the way of dominating play this preseason, but the Patriots coaching staff clearly appreciates his ability.
Tavon Wilson: Labeled by many as a bust since he was a second-round pick in 2012, Wilson has found a way to stick: the kicking game. In our estimation, he's not on fellow safety Nate Ebner's level as a special teamer, but he's been used on multiple units in the past and we would expect the same from him in 2014. Wilson could also factor into the defense at safety next to Devin McCourty, which has been a rotating carousel of players all summer. He was subbing in at safety and splitting reps with Patrick Chung and Duron Harmon before suffering an injury early in camp.
Malcolm Butler: The rookie out of Division 2 West Alabama rode a wave of momentum from the outset of camp all the way to a roster spot. Good ball skills and a solid ability to cover will help give the already-deep Patriots cornerback group even more man power while veteran Brandon Browner serves his four-game suspension.