Ras-I Dowling had been a frustrating player to follow in his tenure with the New England Patriots. He got off to a nice start in his rookie year, before injuries took their toll. Then, in his second year, that trend continued.
As a result, he has only played nine career games in the NFL. For this reason, the Patriots decided to cut bait with the oft-injured cornerback.
Now, you may be asking yourself now that this move was made, where do the Patriots go from here? Well, there are a few directions they could go.
First, they could hold out hope that Alfonzo Dennard won’t have to face discipline for his recent DUI, and will be healthy enough to play in 2013. That would leave you where you were last season, with Dennard playing opposite Aqib Talib.
Another thing the team could do is have rookie CB Logan Ryan step up as the number two cornerback behind Talib. This move would have high upside, but the team may shy away from doing that, due to his inexperience at the NFL level.
The next option, although it is probably the least likely, would be for the Patriots to move Devin McCourty back to the number two cornerback spot, and use guys like Tavon Wilson or Duron Harmon in the safety spots. As I said, this would seem unlikely to happen.
Lastly, the team could elect to use Marquice Cole as the No. 2 cornerback, and keep Ryan as a rotational player. This would be the most likely scenario if Dennard is forced to miss any time, because Cole is reportedly impressing the Patriots’ organization.
At the very least, the backup cornerbacks have all moved up a spot on the defensive depth chart. Dowling, given his talent level, will probably be signed by a team that is desperate in the secondary, but there is no reason to think that he will be able to stay on the field if he is signed.