There has been a lot of talk surrounding the safety position in New England. Most of the controversy has surrounded Brandon Meriweather, who will freelance at times and be caught out of position. Tackling has also been an issue at times. There was some talk of Meriweather possibly being traded, but that seems less likely now. In a surprising move, the Patriots released James Sanders, a veteran who has been with the team since 2005 and is coming off probably his best season.
Sanders was injured early in training camp with a hamstring issue, and only began practicing with the team regularly last week. He played in Saturday night’s preseason game against the Lions. He did not look particularly good, going high on one tackle and getting driven back for extra yardage. I figured that the team would cut him some slack being that it was his first game action of the preseason and he had only one full week of practice.
Apparently, Sanders is not in their future plans, and there’s no indication that his $2.8 million salary was a factor. According to Sanders, who was surprised by his release, the team wanted to give him a chance to test the market and choose his new team as opposed to being traded to a team he did not want to go to:
“They just said it was time to move on and they felt I earned the opportunity to choose where I wanted to go rather than get traded somewhere I wouldn’t want to go,” Sanders said. “They said I earned that much from [Coach Belichick] and the team, so they released me and gave me the opportunity to test the market.”
Sanders’ release certainly shakes things up when trying to figure out how many safeties the team will keep. Does this open the door for guys like Josh Barrett and James Ihedigbo who are on the bubble? Are the Patriots eyeing another position to use Sanders’ roster spot for? I wouldn’t be surprised to see a few other surprise names to show up by tomorrow when the team has to trim down from 90 to 80 players.