The New England Patriots have been releasing a few veterans in order to give them a head start in free agency, as we near the 75-man roster crunch deadline at 4 p.m. eastern time. The most significant name to be dropped thus far is athletic veteran Donte’ Stallworth, and the release shows that the Patriots know what we have been seeing; he’s clearly not an option for this team.
At 31, Stallworth’s best attributes are his speed and athleticism, which is quite extraordinary for a wide receiver of his age. Those advantages led many to believe, including me, that he would make the roster due to the unique skill-set that he brings to the table as compared to Deion Branch.
However, speed and athleticism aren’t enough for a player who struggles to get open more than he should and does not catch the ball. Stallworth was dropping passes like crazy in training camp, and he dropped two passes on Friday against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. In the Monday Night Football game against the Philadelphia Eagles, Stallworth failed to gain separation from defensive backs and was clearly outclassed by Branch (51 receiving yards).
In our poll on the right side of the site, Stallworth was leading Branch before the Eagles game. Afterwards, you readers made Stallworth take a complete 180 and rightfully bumped him below Branch.
Jabar Gaffney isn’t healthy, but he is the most consistent of the three and the most productive. He will likely make the roster and should be the number three receiver, as long as the injury isn’t serious (it probably isn’t).
At the end of the day, this was a cut that had to be made, and Stallworth will find a job somewhere else. After all, speed and athleticism are two traits that a team lacking a No. 4 or 5 receiver- or who want veteran help- will desire.
You can follow Joe Soriano on Twitter @SorianoJoe.