Life as a member of the New England Patriots is a roller coaster. You get to be part of a team that wins and wins a lot. On the other hand, the watchful eye of the greatest coach in NFL history is always on you, making sure you maintain a certain level of value in his championship formula.
Quite simply, anyone is expendable. Bill Belichick has proven that multiple times over the years.
Heading into the 2019 season, there are three New England Patriots who stand out as having something to prove, whether it be to themselves, to the fans, or to Belichick. These guys need to demonstrate their value if they want to have an extended stay in Foxborough — or anywhere else.
Jamie Collins, LB
Collins was viewed as a rising start for his first three seasons in the NFL as a Patriot. Then in the middle of his fourth season, he was inexplicably shipped to Cleveland. Only later did it become widely known that Collins had fallen out of favor with Belichick when he would go rogue on certain plays. That doesn't fly with the head coach, and it subsequently doesn't fly with the fans. Now he has a second shot with the NFL's model franchise. He needs to prove that he can live and breathe "The Patriot Way", or else Belichick will have no issues casting him off into NFL exile once again.
Rex Burkhead, RB
Burkhead has quickly become a fan favorite amongst the Patriot faithful. He does everything he's asked to do and does so at a high level. Now, however, it appears he could be the odd man out in what is a crowded running back room. Sony Michel is the future and everyone knows it. James White has carved out his role as the pass-catching specialist and Mr. Dependable. Then in April, Belichick used a third-round pick in the draft on Alabama running back Damien Harris.
It's hard to imagine the Patriots dressing four running backs every week. Between what has already been invested and the track record of production, Burkhead's time in New England could be in jeopardy unless he shines in camp and preseason.
Phillip Dorsett, WR
Dorsett will have every opportunity to be an every-week starter now with Chris Hogan out of the picture (and Josh Gordon currently suspended). Dorsett needs to win the job outright and early. Ideally, New England would march out a three-receiver set that includes first-round pick N'Keal Harry, Julian Edelman, and Dorsett. That said, Demaryius Thomas is still in the mix, as are Patriot newcomers Maurice Harris and Dontrelle Inman. Dorsett will be a free agent in 2020. If he can't lock down the job and put up solid numbers in 2019, he may have a tough go of it on the free agent market next offseason.
— Written by J.P. Scott, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. His work has appeared on SI.com, FoxSports.com, Yahoo!, SBNation, USA Today and Bleacher Report. He is a three-time FWAA writing contest award winner. Follow him on Twitter @TheJPScott.