The New England Patriots kept the brothers trend going on Thursday, May 18 amid the signing of defensive tackle Justus Tavai.
He will join his older brother, linebacker Jahlani Tavai on the team. Doug Kyed of AtoZ Sports reported the signing and noted that Justus Tavai cracked the 90-man roster after “a successful tryout” with the Patriots.
The signing coincided with the release of offensive tackle Yodny Cajuste on Thursday. Cajuste played four seasons for the Patriots and started five games in that span amid injuries.
With the Tavai brothers teaming up, for now, that makes three pairs of brothers on the Patriots’ roster since 2017. Cody and Jacob Hollister pulled it off during the 2017 and 2018 seasons, which coincided with the McCourty twins.
Devin and Jason McCourty shined on defense from 2018 to 2020, which included a Super Bowl win in 2019. Jason McCourty left for the Miami Dolphins in 2021 and retired after that season. Devin McCourty played another two seasons for the Patriots after his brother left and retired this year.
The Tavai brothers face a tall order to match the McCourty twins. Justus Tavai enters the league as an undrafted free agent out of San Diego State. The 6-foot-3, 290-pound rookie tallied 3.5 sacks, an interception, and 38 tackles for the Aztecs in 2022. He transferred to SDSU after three seasons with Hawaii where he tallied 7.5 sacks, a pick, two forced fumbles and 72 tackles in 19 games.
Jahlani Tavai, a second-round pick by the Detroit Lions in 20219, emerged as a starter last season for the Patriots. He tallied 69 tackles, 1.5 sacks, and two pass deflections in 2022.
Tavais Family Football Legacy Continues
While the Tavais brothers may not bring McCourty-level success to New England, the Tavais brothers at least continue a family legacy of football success. Their older brother, J.R., played for the Tennessee Titans in 2015, and their younger brother, Jonah, made the Seattle Seahawks‘ 90-man roster this year.
The Tavais brothers’ father, William, played football and so did their mother. Nafanua-Schuster-Tavai played professionally in the Women’s Football Alliance as did the brothers’ aunt, WBZ-TV reported in October 2022.
“We just keep that pipeline going,” Jahlani Tavai said on WBZ-TV’s “Patriots 1st Down” show.
Yodny Cajuste Waiver Marks End of an Era For Now
New England waived the last of the team’s 2019 draft class amid Cajuste’s departure on Thursday.
Cajuste, a third-round pick, just couldn’t stay healthy. He didn’t play a regular season snap until 2021 due to quad surgery in 2019 and a knee injury in 2022. The injury bug hit him again in 2022 with a thumb injury that landed him on injured reserve.
Other members of that Patriots’ draft class just didn’t pan out. from first round pick and wide receiver N’Keal Harry to seventh-round pick and cornerback Ken Webster. Ironically, most draft experts gave the Patriots an “A” right after that draft.
Harry mustered 57 receptions for 598 yards and four touchdowns in three seasons before the Patriots traded him to the Chicago Bears in 2022. The Bears didn’t re-sign Harry after the season.
Second-round pick and cornerback JoeJuan Williams never played a down for the Patriots. He joined the Minnesota Vikings in April as a free agent.
Third-round pick and defensive end Chase Winovich didn’t last despite 11 sacks in his first two seasons. The Patriots traded him to the Cleveland Browns last year.
Fellow-third rounder and running back Damien Harris had ups and downs amid injuries. He left in free agency for the Buffalo Bills.
Fourth-round picks Hjalte Froholdt and Jarrett Stidham saw limited time at guard and quarterback respectively before their departures. Fifth-round pick and defensive tackle Bryon Cowart had one productive season with the Patriots in 2020 but got waived after an injury-riddled 2021 season.
Sixth-round pick and punter Jake Bailey made the exception of the Patriots’ 2019 draft class as an All-Pro in 2020. Injury ultimately curtailed his time in New England before his release.
Lastly, Webster never made the final 53-man roster nor the practice squad.