5 New England Patriots Veterans Who Won’t Make The Final Roster
5 New England Patriots Veterans Who Won't Make The Final Roster
New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick is considered, among other things, as to be almost heartless when it comes to roster cuts. He famously cut Lawyer Milloy the week before the season started in 2002 after he helped them win a Super Bowl that February. He let go of Tiquan Underwood at the Super Bowl in 2012. One thing can be said: If Belichick thinks a move will help his team, he doesn't care what the consequences are he is going to make it.
The Patriots have a lot of intriguing decisions that need to be made this season. They already started cutting their roster down with the losses of Michael Jenkins and Donald Jones at receiver. They clearly want to get younger in some positions and more experienced in others. There are some positions, like tight end, defensive tackle and safety to name a few, that are bloated. They weren't like most teams that fill their extra roster spots with undrafted free agents to get their roster up to 90. They took chances throughout the roster with veterans and rookies.
This is the worst offseason in the Belichick era. The Alfonzo Dennard arrest situation that has been held over the team's head while we wait as the court date continually gets pushed back comes to mind. There was Wes Welker, who bolted for the Denver Broncos, then proceeded to act like a backlashing ex-girlfriend by making accusations towards his former coach and team. There is talk of the Patriots' line of dominance being over. Tom Brady stopped the world (figuratively, although he literally stopped Vegas) when Nate Soldier fell into his knee this week. Then there was Aaron Hernandez. Everyone knows that story, so I won't waste more of your time on that.
The Patriots cannot wait for this season to start so they can talk about football. They don't care about anything off the field. If it gets in the way of day to day operations, you become expendable. To follow are five players who will not be on the team when they visit the Buffalo Bills on September 8.
The obvious player that you thought was going to be a cap casualty looked like it was LeGarrette Blount. Then he had a monster game against the Philadelphia Eagles in which he ran for 101 yards and two touchdowns on only 11 carries. Now you have to look at the Patriots' running backs a little closer. Stevan Ridley is the starter. Shane Vereen is a lock to stay on the team. Leon Washington signed in the offseason to fix the Patriots return game with the loss of Welker. Brandon Bolden had big games when he was given the ball. He rushed for 137 yards against the Bills in Week 4, but then he got suspended and seemed to fall out of favor in New England. It will be a loss for the Pats, but with all the offseason news they don't want a guy who doesn't have perfect decision making when they have depth at that position.
Jermaine Cunningham is a name that seems to be on the chopping block at the end of the preseason but ends up always surviving. I believe that this is the season his luck runs out. The former second round pick has had a tumultuous career on the field. He looked like he was going to finally break out last season until he too was suspended under the league's performance enhancing substance policy. Again, a player whose spot on the team was not guaranteed makes a terrible decision. Cunningham will go down as one of the worst draft picks of the Belichick era, and it is time to cut the cord. They have plenty of defensive tackles on the team. That position is basically set so you can try and move their backups over and experiment with which ones work.
The man will be remembered for one play in which he brought a fumble all the way back for a touchdown. That play was actually the Mark Sanchez butt fumble. Steve Gregory all in all had a disappointing season in 2012. He only had 37 tackles on the season. He missed all of October with a hip injury, which can sometimes nag for years. He did nothing to keep his job safe. The Patriots have moved to make Devin McCourty a full time safety. They signed Adrian Wilson from the Arizona Cardinals to bring some pop to the back end. They still have last season's second round draft pick Tavon Wilson, although his development seems to be a very slow process. Gregory is a player that is willing to move around the field. Even though he is usually the type of player the Patriots go after, he will end up being cut because of the logjam that is the Patriots secondary. He will cost a bit of a cap hit, but he will still save the Pats money in the long run.
With Hernandez no longer a part of this team and the uncertain future of Rob Gronkowski, there should be no way the Patriots cut a tight end, right? Not true. The Patriots play in an offense that asks a lot of its tight end position. It wants you to be a good blocker and a great pass catcher. Daniel Fells is a very good blocking tight end, but he is not the best at catching the ball. Jake Ballard is going to fight Fells for a position on this team, and the former has better hands. Michael Hoomanawanui showed last season that he can make plays from the line and from the backfield. Zach Sudfeld is a player that most analysts didn't expect to survive cuts, but he has had an exceptional preseason. Fells is another player who isn't necessarily getting cut due to lack of production but from a tough decision that needs to be made.
As much as I want to find a place on this team for Tim Tebow, there just doesn't seem to be room on an already crowded roster. It is clear that he will not beat out Ryan Mallett for the backup quarterback position. There is no reason for the Patriots to keep three quarterbacks on its roster, even with the scare that Brady saw this week. He is not going to play tight end because they have so many players who already play well there. He has been an upstanding citizen since coming to New England, but he did not play very well in his first game. He still has a shot to make the team if his play becomes exponentially better, but if I were to make a decision I would say he is playing in Canada during week one.