Patriots President Jonathon Kraft was on WEEI radio recently and discussed the Patriots’ game plan as far as the offseason goes, including where they’re headed moving forward. According to Kraft, re-signing key players was the top priority. They’ve done a great job with that, re-signing Vince Wilfork, Leigh Bodden, Tully Banta-Cain, and Kevin Faulk. The team is also placing a high importance on this year’s draft, and they’ve certainly made that obvious with the stockpile of draft choices. They have 12 total draft picks, including four out of the first 53 selections.
“We always felt that this draft would be a huge draft,” Kraft said.
Then he added something which caught my ear.
“I think between June and the start of the season, you will probably see significantly more players getting released with veteran-type experience than you have in the past.”
The June cuts used to be a small treasure trove of veteran players that could boost a team’s depth. Pats fans may recall that former RB Antowain Smith was picked up after the June cuts (technically he was released in late May). Smith went on to lead the Pats in rushing the next three years and while he was never really that homerun lead back, he was solid and helped the Pats win 2 Super Bowls. Gems like Smith used to be had after June but the past few seasons teams have not had the big veteran releases at the start of the summer.
This year, at least according to Kraft, looks to be like old times due to the labor situation. This could also be a time where teams look to make trades to fill holes not plugged up via the draft. The Pats made a late-summer splash before the 2003 season got underway and landed big nose tackle Ted Washington. Before acquiring Washington, the Pats really had no one to fill that all-important NT position. This could also be the time that we may see the disgruntled Adalius Thomas get released by the team.
The June cuts landscape should get clearer after the draft, and it looks like the Pats will be doing some late-season shopping.