The New England Patriots have until Wednesday to add suspended DT Daniel Ekuale to their 53-man roster or let him go once his suspension ends ESPN.com’s Mike Reiss.
Ekuale, 28, had a distinguished career in college in Washington State, joining the NFL in 2019 as an undrafted free agent with the Cleveland Browns. Ekuale played seven games for the Browns before landing with the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2020, where he played nine games, including five starts.
The Patriots added him to the practice roster last season, and he’s earned a multiple promotion in seven games. That The reason for Ekuale’s suspension was not disclosed publicly, but this has become an unfortunate part of his NFL journey.
This isn’t the first time the NFL has suspended Ekuale. He was also suspended as a rookie in 2019. The first suspension was due to Ekuale failing a test on performance-enhancing drugs. The 6-foot-3, 300-pound Samoan can be a force against the barrel as he can expend two inside blockers.
His presence can free up linebackers to shoot gaps, which can increase a defense’s overall effectiveness. However, the best capability is availability. If Ekuale is not available to his team, his value will decrease.
The Patriots now face a dilemma, or at least a decision. Is Ekuale a player they can trust to remain eligible? Second, at his best, does he offer something for the Patriots defense that isn’t currently available?
As a team struggling with some financial constraints this season, New England must think long and hard about player additions, weighing the pros and cons of each potential signing. Judging by how the Patriots have defended the run for the first two weeks of the season, it’s unclear if Ekuale would represent an upgrade over someone in his position.
Adding Ekuale would also mean the Patriots would send another player into the practice squad to make room for him. There’s a lot to think about, but it starts with a closer look at how the back line has been playing this season.
Sophomore stud Christian Barmore is the star of the defensive line for the first two weeks of the 2022 season. Barmore has a sack, two tackles, a tackle for loss, and two QB hits. Its impact goes beyond mere numbers, and it successfully wreaks havoc inside an opposing team’s defenses.
Of these, Godchaux was similarly disruptive. He too has a sack ahead of him with four duels this year. Likewise, Lawrence Guy’s demise has been greatly exaggerated and hastened. The experienced defensive tackle is the second-biggest tackle among defensive linemen, behind Deatrich Wise Jr.
With so many Patriots D-linemen already playing well, finding a spot for Ekuale seems a little harder. Considering the Patriots may soon have to make room for the return of WR Kristian Wilkerson, rookie Tyquan Thornton and perhaps Ty Montgomery, keeping Ekuale — at least in the long term — doesn’t seem practical.