New England Patriots linebackers Niko Koutouvides and Jeff Tarpinian were cut yesterday in favor of the injured Tracy White and fellow LB Mike Rivera. Tarpinian has been solid throughout the preseason, while Koutouvides is a solid veteran who is a top special teamer. Tarpinian also offers value on special teams and is a better down linebacker than White, who is a star on special teams, so the move to release both players was a bit interesting for some.
I honestly thought that Tarpinian would stay, and I didn’t foresee both of them being cut. White isn’t as good of a linebacker as either, while Rivera is a relative unknown. Still, Rivera did a lot to boost his stock against the New York Giants by being all over the place in an active display (led the team in tackles).
White, on the other hand, is one of the best special teams players in the league, which makes up for his underwhelming play as an outside linebacker. In Rivera and White, the Patriots are getting a special teams ace and more of a true linebacker as opposed to two players who are a mix of both.
Koutouvides and Tarpinian were both on my 53-man roster lists at one point, but I switched out Koutouvides for White about a week ago. He had a few uneven performances and was poor in both Weeks 3 and 4. Tarpinian did a nice job in bouncing back from a rocky display against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but it evidently wasn’t enough for him to get a roster spot.
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