The New England Patriots can begin planning for 2019 with Darren Andrews in mind.
The undrafted rookie wide out from UCLA was waived by New England on Monday to make room for former New Mexico punter Corey Bojorquez on the 90-man roster. In the process of waving him, the Patriots placed a non-football injury designation on him. That means if Andrew cleared waivers he’d come back to the Patriots, who would then have essentially stashed him for the 2019 season.
He wouldn’t count towards their 90-man roster, but he’d be under team control going forward into next season.
Andrews as since gone through waivers and cleared it, meaning he will in fact be with the team in 2019, as things stand currently. The wide out was able to land on the non-football injury list after he tore his ACL back in November for the Bruins.
Prior to that injury, Andrews was able to haul in 60 passes for 773 yards and 10 touchdowns after playing in just nine games for UCLA in 2017 before the tear. He has a history of playing in the slot, so he could be another longterm option for New England in the seasons to come at that spot.
However, this torn ACL isn’t an isolated incident as he’s battle some other injuries over the course of his collegiate career as well, so the Patriots may still have to hold their breath on him in a similar fashion they are with Malcolm Mitchell, another pass catcher with a lengthy injury history.
This is an overall savvy move by the Patriots, who are wise to give themselves some semblance of a cushion at receiver heading in to next season. While they may be deep at the position right now, Chris Hogan, Kenny Britt, Phillip Dorsett, Cordarrelle Patterson and Jordan Matthews will all be unrestricted free agents after this season.
If Hogan continues on the path that he’s been going down during his Patriots career, he’ll likely be the target of numerous teams next offseason. As will be the case with Matthews, who signed a one-year deal with New England to play alongside Tom Brady and rebuild his reputation as a strong possession receiver in the NFL.
That also isn’t mentioning the uncertainty with the guy who will be on the roster in 2019. Julian Edelman will be 33 entering the 2019 season, while Mitchell is a question mark due to his injury history and who knows if 2018 sixth round pick Braxton Berrios can actually be the heir apparent to Danny Amendola.
So while these are the moves that fly mostly under the radar, it could prove to be pretty meaningful in a year’s time and show that the Patriots always like to play a couple steps ahead of the rest of the league.