With the newly founded Alliance of American Football (AAF) league already in full swing, we thought it would be interesting to see what ties the Patriots have to the new rosters. As part of the league setup, each of the 32 NFL teams is affiliated with an AAF franchise. In the New England Patriots case, their affiliate is the Birmingham Iron, who are based in Alabama.
With the way the league is set up, it will give a chance for borderline roster players to make an impact and impress. The AAF has managed to bring in a lot of high-profile names as coaches and assistants which will lend more gravitas to the fledgling organisation.
With all this being said, lets take a look at those former Patriots. Some names will be familiar, others not so, all will be hoping to find their way back to New England in the near future.
Chase Farris – Atlanta Legends – OG
Farris was an undrafted free agent out of Ohio State in 2016. Initially signed by the Lions, he spent two seasons with the Patriots from 2016-17. Farris was part of the Patriots Super Bowl LI victory over the Falcons, albeit in a limited capacity. A torn Achilles ended his time in New England and the Legends will be his first team since his recovery.
Ray Hamilton – Birmingham Iron – Defensive Line Coach
“Sugar Bear” Hamilton, was a 14th round pick by the Patriots in 1973 out of Oklahoma. The Defensive Tackle spent eight seasons in New England playing in 132 games. Hamilton later joined the Patriots staff as an Assistant Defensive Line Coach for four years and nine years later in 1998 he became the Patriots Defensive Line Coach.
Deontae Skinner – Birmingham Iron – LB
The Mississippi State Bulldog was signed by the Patriots as an undrafted free agent in 2014 and spent nearly a full calendar year with the team, picking up a Super Bowl ring in the process. Skinner would then go on to the Eagles, Giants, Raiders and Titans. He has been fairly active in that time, registering 23 tackles and a sack most of which came with the Patriots. He was last with the Titans in August of last season.
Matthew Wells – Birmingham Iron – LB
The Patriots drafted the undersized Linebacker in the 6th round in 2015 as a Special Teams specialist. It seems like the Patriots saw enough of him early on in training camp and traded him for Ryan Groy at the start of August with the Bears. He was cut soon after being traded and was picked up by the Rams as a Practice Squad player. He later was signed and cut again by the Falcons and eventually moved to Canada with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in 2016 where he played sparingly. He has been out of football for the last few seasons, the Iron offering him a lifeline in his home state of Mississippi.
Xzavier Dickson – Birmingham Iron – LB
Dickson was drafted by the Patriots in the 7th round in 2015 but failed to make the roster in his rookie season. Life after the Patriots hasn’t been too successful either as he spent time on the Falcons Practice Squad and the Edmonton Eskimos’ offseason roster. For a former national champion with Alabama in 2012 and 2013, it has been a bit of a fall from grace. It will be interesting to see how much he can contribute as part of the Iron this season.
Devin Lucien – Memphis Express – WR
Lucien will be a familiar name to viewers of Patriots pre-season games. Drafted in the 7th round in 2016 out of Arizona State, he spent his rookie season on the Practice Squad and was eventually released before the start of the 2017 season. In that time, he picked up a Super Bowl LI ring. After being released, he spent time with the Chiefs, Texans and the Buccaneers before returning to the Patriots at the beginning of this season. He was initially signed to the Arizona Hotshots and was dealt to the Express before the start of the AAF season.
Toby Weathersby – Memphis Express – OL
There really isn’t much to say about Weathersby’s tenure with the Patriots, except for the fact that it was short – 5 days in total. The undrafted free agent out of LSU was initially signed by the Eagles and subsequently released in early October before signing with the Patriots Practice Squad just before Christmas.
Anthony Johnson – Memphis Express – DE
The Dolphins initially signed the former LSU Defensive End as an undrafted free agent in 2014. He spent his rookie season on IR and failed to make the roster in 2015 before spending a few short months in Washington, then, the Patriots then swooped in. After an impressive pre-season he made the initial 53-man roster and became a fan favourite. Unfortunately Johnson couldn’t re-discover his preseason form and was released at the end of October. Since then he played with the Jets and the Colts where he saw limited game-time.
Corey Vereen – Memphis Express – DE
Not to be confused with Shane or Brock, Corey’s stint with the Patriots was very short-lived – only a month to be exact. He was placed on IR with an undisclosed injury and that was the end of his tenure with both the Patriots and also the NFL.
Quentin Gause – Memphis Express – LB
The dreadlocked Rutgers alumni only spent one season in total in the NFL but managed to fit in time with the Eagles and the Broncos. He also squeezed a month long stay on the Patriots Practice Squad. 2017 saw Gause stay out of football before taking the well-travelled road to the CFL with the Ottawa Redblacks.
Garrett Gilbert – Orlando Apollos – QB
For followers of College Football, Gilbert’s name will be very familiar. A record setter at both the University of Texas and SMU, Gilbert was picked in the 6th round in 2014 by the Rams. He was released in October of the same year but signed on to the Patriots Practice Squad and ended up collecting a Super Bowl ring as part of the team that defeated the Seahawks. The Patriots released him the following summer but since then his career began to pick up. After a short stint with the Lions, he signed with the Raiders where he stayed for two seasons before moving to the Panthers where he saw the field in the final game of the season as an injury replacement for Kyle Allen. Since signing with the Apollo’s he has arguably been one of the best Quarterbacks through two games, winning Offensive Player of the Week in Week 2.
Tre Jackson – Orlando Apollos – Og
Drafted just a few picks before Shaq Mason, Jackson’s career couldn’t have been more different from that of Mason’s. Jackson was considered the better all around Guard coming out of the draft, Mason the more raw talent. Both men picked up Super Bowl LI rings in their time with the Patriots. Jackson played in 13 games with 9 starts in his rookie season before succumbing to a knee injury. Not much was known about this knee injury but it meant that he would miss the end of the 2015 season and also all of the 2016 season. In the same season, the Patriots drafted Joe Thuney, which meant that Jackson’s days were numbered. He was quietly released in April 2017. The injury must have been more serious to say the Patriots moved on from him so quickly. Jackson was claimed off waivers the following day by the Rams but failed the physical and has been without a team until the Apollo’s came calling.
Chris Martin – Orlando Apollos – OT
Poor Chris Martin. Between 2014-16 he played with five teams in nine different stints. During this time he played in a total of zero games. The Tackle spent a combined two and a half months with the Patriots before moving to the CFL to Ottawa.
Steve Beauharnais – Arizona Hotshots – LB
Another Rutgers alumni, Beauharnais, was picked at the end of the 7th round by the Patriots in 2013. Despite his lowly draft status, the outlook was good for him to make the roster with the Patriots having poor depth at the position. He stayed on the roster for his whole rookie season but played almost exclusively on Special Teams. Beauharnais failed to make the roster in his sophomore year and signed with the Redskins and yo-yoed between the active and practice roster for the season. He followed that season up with a short stint with the 49ers. Since then he has been out of football entirely working in Commercial Real Estate.
Sterling Moore – Arizona Hotshots – CB
Moore was a part of the turn of the decade secondary that was made up of undrafted free agents, Julian Edelman and Matthew Slater. He is best known for his AFC Championship performance where he managed to prevent a certain Touchdown from Lee Evans. He later spent time with the Cowboys, Bucs, Bills, Saints and Lions in a fairly accomplished NFL career. Moore eventually finished up with 186 tackles, 6 forced fumbles and 6 interceptions.
Robert Nelson – Arizona Hotshots – CB
Nelson’s stint in the NFL may have lasted 5 seasons, but his 5 days as part of the Patriots Practice Squad are probably his least memorable. The former Arizona State Sun Devil was best known for his time with the Texans where he accrued 11 games played, 20 tackles and an interception. He has started his AAF career positively already with a pick against the Salt Lake Stallions.
Brian Tyms – Salt Lake Stallions – WR
Tyms is one of the few players to have been a Super Bowl champion and also a CFL Grey Cup winner. He will be hoping to add the inaugural AAF Championship to his trophy cabinet this season. Tyms was a big fan favourite in New England as he was seen as the elusive deep threat that fans had craved since the departure of Randy Moss. One would have thought he had better stats than his 5 catches for 84 yards and a Touchdown, in New England considering how fans clamoured for him at the time. A suspension and an injury book-ended his time with the Patriots as the coaching staff felt that they were better off looking for talent elsewhere at the conclusion of the 2015 season. After time in the CFL with the Tiger Cats and the Argonauts, Tyms was initially signed by the Orlando Apollos and later released before being picked up by Salt Lake.
Mike Purcell – Salt Lake Stallions – DT
Purcell’s first stint on the Patriots lasted a meagre 24 hours. A veteran of three and a half seasons by then, with the 49ers, Rams, Bears and Panthers, his second act in New England lasted a bit longer at just over 2 weeks. In his first 3 seasons in San Francisco he was a solid contributor on the Defensive Interior. He never really reclaimed this standing with any of his subsequent teams, his last NFL stop being with the Chiefs in 2018.
Sealver Siliga – Salt Lake Stallions – DT
Siliga’s story is a cautionary tale as to how finely balanced an NFL career can be. In 2014 he was a starter at Defensive Tackle for the Patriots in Super Bowl XLIX against the Seahawks. He followed this up with a solid season with the Patriots in 2015. At the end of the season, New England decided to move on from him, despite the fact that he signed a low money 1-year $1.4m contract with the Seahawks in free agency. He played sparingly with the Seahawks due to injury and followed this up with limited spells in Tampa Bay with the Bucs in 2016-17. He was most recently a member of the Jacksonville Jaguars at the start of the 2018 season.
Trevor Reilly – Salt Lake Stallions – LB
A former 7th round pick by the Jets in 2014 coming out of Utah, Reilly will probably be most remembered for the sickening head to head collision he had with Senorise Perry in the November home game against the Dolphins in 2017. It is one I personally won’t forget as I heard the sickening crack of helmet on helmet from my seat up in the nosebleed section. It was a hit that knocked both men out. He was released in 2017 to make way for the signing of James Harrison. Since then he has been helping out at his alma mater waiting for a call.
Kenneth Farrow – San Antonio Commanders – RB
Farrow was another of those offseason favourites that pop up every season. His time came this season just gone. Initially signed by the Chargers out of Houston, he saw the field towards the end of his rookie season due to injuries to Melvin Gordon, Danny Woodhead and Branden Oliver. He spent his 2017 season on Injured Reserve and was released soon after.
Trey Williams – San Antonio Commanders – RB
The former Texas A&M player Running Back has the enviable statistic of a career rushing average of 6 yards, although I’m sure he would leave out the part where it only came from two carries. Williams spent two very short periods with the Patriots in his rookie season in 2015. He had the less travelled load of going from the NFL, to the CFL then back in 2018 to the NFL as a roster replacement for Zeke Elliott while he was serving his suspension.
Demarcus Ayers – San Antonio Commanders – WR
Ayers, the former Steeler, drafted in the 7th round in 2016 caught 6 catches for 53 yards and a Touchdown in two games for Pittsburgh. He failed to make the roster in 2017 and found his way onto the Patriots Practice Squad for a period of 3 weeks. He spent the 2018 offseason with the Bears but was released in early September.
Bishop Sankey – San Diego Fleet – RB
The former Titan was drafted in the 2nd round in 2014 and was the first Running Back selected that season ahead of Jeremy Hill and Carlos Hyde. He plodded his way through his first two NFL seasons averaging 3.7 yards and 4.1 yards per carry. He was eventually cut going into the 2016 season and picked up by the Patriots on the Practice Squad where he stayed for two months before the Chiefs signed him. He then spent the 2016 & 2017 seasons with the Vikings where he tore his ACL in the preseason.
-Luke O’Brien is a Staff Writer for Full Press Coverage Sports Media and covers the New England Patriots. Follow him on Twitter @lukeobrienNFL