Patriots Add Roster Depth By Bringing Back Three Players

The New England Patriots didn’t just spend Tuesday “pushing” to obtain standout wide receiver Calvin Ridley.

They also did some work to build out the bottom of their roster. The Patriots announced they re-signed three depth pieces in linebacker/special teamer Christian Elliss, quarterback Nathan Rourke and offensive tackle Tyrone Wheatley Jr.

New England claimed Elliss, who was an exclusive rights free agent, off waivers on Dec. 8 after the 25-year-old was cut by the Philadelphia Eagles. Ellis saw more playing time than Rourke and Wheatley, but only took the field on special teams in the four games he appeared in for the Patriots.

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The Patriots acquired Wheatley from the Cleveland Browns in exchange for Pierre Strong at the end of training camp this past season. The 6-foot-6, 320-pounder was supposed to be a backup tackle but only played five snaps, all of which came on special teams. Wheatley’s season came to an end in mid-October when he was placed on injured reserve with a knee injury.

Wheatley was viewed as a project when the Patriots traded for him, especially since he played tight end in college. Re-signing Wheatley continues to give New England the chance to develop him in a vital position.

Rourke joined the Patriots in mid-December with New England claiming the the CFL’s 2022 Most Outstanding Canadian off waivers from the Jacksonville Jaguars. Rourke never saw playing time despite the Patriots’ quarterback struggles, but he served as Bailey Zappe’s backup in the regular-season finale against the New York Jets. Mac Jones was inactive for that contest.

Zappe, Rourke and Jacoby Brissett, who the Patriots reportedly agreed to terms with Monday, make up New England’s quarterback room at the moment after the franchise traded Jones to the Jaguars on Sunday.

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It also seems likely that the Patriots will add another young quarterback to the roster next month, perhaps using their No. 3 overall pick on one.

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