The New England Patriots announced that they released corner Shawn Springs today. The move reinforces the youth movement currently underway in the defense. Springs, 35, was signed last year to a three-year deal. His stay in New England was kind of hot-and-cold. He began the season as the starting corner opposite Leigh Bodden, then after a poor performance in Denver, was benched and was also a healthy scratch in a few games. After the defensive secondary struggled against Indy, the Jets, New Orleans, and Miami, Springs was back in the line-up and finished the season starting again.
Springs couldn’t figure out why things went the way they did in New England or why he was released, but has no hard feelings and doesn’t rule out a return to the Patriots.
“It didn’t go bad at all (the meeting with Belichick where he was informed of his release). I could see myself working for Bill. I have a lot of respect for Bill. It wasn’t bad at all. It’s almost like he cut me, and he wants to see what he’s got without distractions. He wants to give them (the other corners) a shot. It’s hard to give them a shot when you have the presence of a guy like me around. He’s going to give you all the chances not to mess it up. It helps your psyche. You don’t have to compete. Just do your job.
“Now, you don’t have to worry about the pressure of guys competing with me and messing up your confidence as a young guy, feeling like, ‘How am I going to compete with this guy?’ “
Springs may have let the cat out of the bag and inadvertently given us an insight into Belichick’s thinking. It seems that Bill wants to see what his young crop of corners have and by releasing Springs, they can get more reps in practice and more playing time in the preseason games. If Bill is unhappy with what he sees, I wouldn’t be surprised if he indeed does bring Springs back for depth. I would say that with Bodden locking down the right corner spot, left corner is up in the air. The main competitors for that spot are second-year man Darius Butler and first-round pick Devin McCourty. Butler did get time starting last season as a rookie and showed flashes of big-play ability, nabbing three interceptions. I would pencil him in at left corner right now, but we don’t know what McCourty will bring to the mix yet.
With the release of Springs, the depth at corner looks like this:
- Leigh Bodden
- Darius Butler
- Devin McCourty
- Jonathon Wilhite
- Terrence Wheatley
- Kyle Arrington
- Terrence Johnson