With more than one week having passed since the end to their 2021 season, the New England Patriots are slowly beginning the process of building their roster for 2022. On Monday, the Pats allowed the contracts of twelve members of their practice squad expire, allowing them to enter free agency
Defensive tackles Daniel Ekuale and Bill Murray join linebacker LaRoy Reynolds, defensive backs De’Vante Bausby, D.J. Daniel, Sean Davis, Cre’Von LeBlanc and D’Angelo Ross, tight end Matt LaCosse, wide receiver Jaylen Smith, and offensive linemen James Ferentz and Alex Redmond in becoming former members of New England’s practice squad.
Last week, the Patriots signed seven players to reserve/futures contracts, six of which ended the season on the team’s practice squad. Those signed to futures deals with the Pats include wide receivers Kristian Wilkerson, Tre Nixon and Malcolm Perry, running back Devine Ozigbo, offensive linemen William Sherman and Arlington Hambright and kicker Quinn Nordin.
Here is a look at the now ex-Pats, whose contracts expired on Monday:
Ekuale played in seven regular season games in 2021, as well as the Pats’ playoff loss to the Buffalo Bills. He originally entered the league as a rookie free agent in 2018. After spending two seasons with the Cleveland Browns and another with the Jacksonville Jaguars, he joined the Patriots’ practice squad last September. The Washington State product remained on the developmental roster throughout the year but was elevated to the game-day team on multiple occasions. Ekuale played a total of 115 defensive snaps, compiling a pair of sacks as well as six tackles.
Ekuale’s presence on the list came as a bit of a surprise, considering his apparent confirmation of re-signing with the team last Wednesday. However, ESPN’s Mike Reiss reported on Monday that while Ekuale’s practice squad deal did expire, he has committed to re-joining the team in 2022.
Bausby first joined the NFL after signing with the Kansas City Chiefs as an undrafted free agent in 2015. Throughout his six-year career, he has been a member of the Chicago Bears, Philadelphia Eagles, Denver Broncos, Arizona Cardinals and Las Vegas Raiders. Through 26 games and six starts, Bausby has compiled 60 tackles and eight pass deflections: taking 794 snaps on defense and 170 snaps on special teams. The 6-foot-2, 190-pound was a former Super Bowl LII champion with the Philadelphia Eagles. He also spent time in 2019 with the San Antonio Commanders of the Alliance of American Football (AAF); leading the team in pass breakups and interceptions. The 29-year-old saw action in the Patriots’ final game of the season as well, playing three defensive snaps.
Ross had been a mainstay on the Patriots practice squad for the past two seasons. However, he recently saw time on the active roster, as the team found itself in need of depth along the secondary. His versatile style made him a good fit in the Patriots system, possessing the capability of aligning in the slot, as well as on the outside. He also contributed on special teams. The 25-year-old appeared in that game plus three others during the regular season. A former rookie free agent in his third season with the team, the New Mexico product ended the year with 60 defensive snaps and three tackles.
Davis was a second-round draft choice (no. 58 overall) of the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 2016 NFL Draft out of the University of Maryland. Prior to the draft, Davis had visits with multiple NFL teams, including the New England Patriots and head coach Bill Belichick Throughout his career, the 27-year-old has played in 73 games, making 47 starts, including postseason. Throughout his career, Davis has compiled 287 tackles, 3.5 sacks, one forced fumble, two fumble recoveries and five interceptions. This season, the 28-year-old played two games as a depth option in the secondary. Davis saw the field for six total snaps but did not register any statistics.
LaCosse joined the Patriots in 2019. The former 2015 undrafted free agent has also spent time with the New York Giants, New York Jets and Denver Broncos before agreeing to terms with New England. In his first season with the Pats, he started eight games, catching 13 passes with one touchdown. Having opted out of the 2020 season amidst COVID-19 concerns, LaCosse made his 2021 season debut against the Cleveland Browns in November. The 29-year-old took 10 total snaps, playing nine on offense plus another in the kicking game. LaCosse finished the game with no catches.
Ferentz has been a member of the Patriots organization since 2017, winning two Super Bowl championships with the club. The 32-year-old started two of his three games this season. He served as New England’s starting left guard against the Houston Texans and Dallas Cowboys, while Michael Onwenu was on COVID-19/Reserve. Ferentz saw limited action in Week Seven versus the New York Jets as well, ending the season with a total of 130 offensive snaps.
Having played his collegiate football at Florida Atlantic, LeBlanc has appeared in 52 games as a pro. Leblanc would make stops with the Chicago Bears, Detroit Lions, Philadelphia Eagles and Miami Dolphins before joining the Texans in September. He was promoted to the active roster in October and rejoined the practice squad in December. LeBlanc first joined the Pats during the summer of 2016 as an undrafted rookie free agent, making a strong case for a roster spot. LeBlanc made the play of the 2016 preseason the third quarter of the Patriots’ preseason opener against the New Orleans Saints He intercepted a pass by Saints’ quarterback Luke McCown in the end zone with just one arm, thus preserving New England’s one-point lead at the time. Since then, the 27-year-old has amassed 118 tackles, two sacks, two interceptions, two forced fumbles, one fumble recovery and one touchdown in his NFL career, while making 16 starts.
Murray is a high-energy defensive lineman who performed well during training camp in both 2020 and 2021. The College of William and Mary product has provided practice quad depth behind the Patriots’ defensive tackles for the past two seasons. At his best, Murray can be useful as a sub-package pass rusher, capable of contributing on some run-blocking schemes.
While best known for his time with the Atlanta Falcons, Reynolds has some familiarity with the organization. The 31-year-old had previously signed a one-year contract with New England in March. However, Reynolds would not take a snap for the Patriots, reaching an injury settlement during organized team activities in May. Following his release from the Patriots this past Spring, Reynolds joined the New York Jets’ practice squad. He served as a COVID-19 replacement in Week Sixteen, recording one tackle through 15 snaps on special teams. He was released on Wednesday after his activation from the COVID-19/Reserve list. Throughout his nine-year career, Reynolds has amassed 118 tackles, one forced fumble and three fumble recoveries along with seven starts.
Daniel recorded 44 tackles and nine pass deflections over two seasons at the University of Georgia, after transferring from Georgia Military College. The 6-foot-1, 185-pound defensive back signed with the Jacksonville Jaguars as a rookie free agent and was waived during training camp in August. Daniel signed with the Patriots practice squad just prior to the start of the 2021 NFL playoffs.
After spending the first four seasons of his career with the Cincinnati Bengals, Redmond signed with the Patriots in May. He spent the Pats offseason program, as well as training camp, hoping to carve out a reserve role along the offensive line. However, he was released and re-signed to the practice squad. Redmond was elevated from the practice squad to the active roster for the Pats Week Five matchup with the Houston Texans.
Smith entered the League as an undrafted free agent out of Louisville. During his 48 games with the Cardinals, he caught 152 passes for 2,505 yards and 15 touchdowns. He began his rookie year in 2019 with the Baltimore Ravens before joining the Seattle Seahawks’ practice squad. The 24-year-old spent last summer with the Canadian Football League’s Toronto Argonauts. At 6-foot-2, 227-pounds, Smith provides good size for the position and could be a solid addition for a team in need of receiver help.