Breaking Down The New England Patriots’ Top 10 High-Profile Roster Cuts
Breaking Down The New England Patriots' Top 10 High-Profile Roster Cuts
The New England Patriots have been very active as the final roster cuts have come in these last few days. Some guys have been released just to be brought back on the practice squad days later, some have earned a roster spot and some have been cut altogether.
The Patriots have one of the deepest, most talented rosters in the league. That means it’s also one of the hardest to make. They let talented players go, including veterans who have proven they can be productive at the NFL level.
Those veterans will likely get shots to play for other teams. It’s the young players, the ones who haven’t proven they have what it takes to be an NFL player, that will have to go back to the drawing board and find a team willing to give them a shot.
NFL cut days are always hard. These guys have been working hard all summer, if not all year, just for the shot to make the team. All their hard work comes down to these few days at the end of August where they find out if their football dream comes true or if they have to give it up.
Most players earn their spot on the final roster by impressing in either training camp or preseason games. They prove to the coaches that they have what it takes to help the team win. But for some to make the team it means others must be sent packing.
Some of the recent cuts from the New England roster have found a home on the practice squad. Those guys still have a chance to make a mark on the team this fall, but not these guys; these ten players are the cuts that will affect the Patriots most this year.
10. Daniel Fells, Tight End
Daniel Fells, a little-used reserve tight end for the Patriots last season, found himself unable to take advantage of the void at the position this year. Originally it was thought that Rob Gronkowski would miss significant time early in the year, but the team left him off the PUP list. Gronkowski’s imminent return, coupled with the play of rookie Zach Sudfeld, made Fells expendable.
9. Josh Kline, Guard
Josh Kline was a rookie free agent offensive lineman the Patriots brought in this spring. They thought he could provide depth on the offensive line, something the team is lacking. Kline was expendable when New England signed fellow rookie free agent Chris Barker, who was cut by the Miami Dolphins.
8. Mike Rivera, Linebacker
Linebacker Mike Rivera has bounced around among several practice squads since he came into the league two years ago from the University of Kansas. Rivera was always a coach’s favorite, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him either get a shot with the Patriots later this year if they have injuries or find a role with another team.
7. Luke Patterson, Guard
Luke Patterson is a reserve offense lineman who broke into the league on the Kansas City Chiefs' practice squad. Patterson, a converted defensive lineman from Texas A&M, found himself on the outside looking in when it came to the New England offensive line. The Patriots can use either Will Svitek or Marcus Cannon as fill-ins at guard if need be.
6. Matt Stankiewitch, Center
A rookie free agent center from Penn State, Matt Stankiewitch was brought in to add depth to the offensive line. With so many young offensive linemen brought in to fight for the backup spots, Stankiewitch found himself a victim of the numbers game. Ryan Wendell will start at center, and the Patriots can move right guard Dan Connolly over if he gets injured.
5. Zoltan Mesko, Punter
I was pretty shocked when Zoltan Mesko was let go. He was always a good punter. Maybe he didn’t have the strongest leg, but he had great hang time and was one of the best at placing his kicks down the sideline. Rookie free agent Ryan Allen beat him out for the job, but it wasn’t surprising at all that Mesko immediately signed with the Pittsburgh Steelers.
4. Leon Washington, Running Back
Leon Washington, an eight-year veteran who had productive years for both the New York Jets and the Seattle Seahawks, got caught up in a surprisingly deep running back group. Washington does his best work returning kicks, and his release leaves the Patriots with a question mark in the return game.
3. Jermaine Cunningham, Defensive End
Jermaine Cunningham came into the NFL with plenty of promise. He fit the mold of an athletic pass rusher coming out of the University of Florida, but he was never quite able to live up to that potential. He struggled to stay healthy, and the Patriots had to move on.
2. Jake Ballard, Tight End
Jake Ballard was a favorite to be Gronkowski’s replacement as the receiving tight end for the first part of the season. Ballard had 604 yards and four touchdowns for the New York Giants in 2011, but he wasn’t able to stay healthy enough to earn a spot on the Patriots this summer.
1. Tim Tebow, Quarterback
The Tim Tebow era appears to be over in New England. It was fun while it lasted. I was one of the few who believed he was worth keeping around, but in the end he just didn’t show enough improvement as a passer to warrant keeping him over Ryan Mallett at backup quarterback.