The New England Patriots made the decision to cut ties with two wide receivers yesterday in Lavelle Hawkins and Perez Ashford, but neither of those releases were surprising. The surprise release the Patriots made was on the offensive line (Nick McDonald), but neither Hawkins nor Ashford looked like threats to make the roster.
It’s a bit surprising to think that Lavelle Hawkins, formerly of the Tennessee Titans, is 27 years old, because it doesn’t seem like he’s been in the league for that long. Hawkins is a capable depth receiver and should find a way to latch onto another squad, and his release is even less surprising than Donald Jones’s was. Although Hawkins didn’t have a workout bonus for camp, that was just about the only thing that saved him from being released sooner, in my opinion. He did not impress during training camp, and the rift between him and Kenbrell Thompkins just continued to grow for the competition as the No. 5 receiver.
If Michael Jenkins and Kamar Aiken are on the roster bubble (which they certainly are), then Hawkins was clearly on the outside looking in. Both Jenkins and Aiken have impressed more this offseason than Hawkins, who has had a quiet offseason. That’s never good for a wide receiver, and he was just poor overall in camp. The Patriots will likely keep six receivers (the sixth is Matthew Slater who is the special teams captain, so the competition is at the No. 5 spot), and Thompkins is getting closer to locking up that fifth spot with each impressive day that passes by.
Aiken has been impressive in camp at times, but even he is on the outside looking in. Ditto to dependable veteran Michael Jenkins, who has had a subpar camp but did hook up well with Tom Brady in great showings at OTAs and minicamp. But even Jenkins looks like a guy who won’t make the roster, and the only way I see him making the roster is if Thompkins fizzles out or if the Patriots decide to keep seven wide receivers (which I don’t see happening).
As for Perez Ashford, his release comes as even less of a surprise. Both he and Quentin Sims were signed by the New England Patriots right after the release of Donald Jones, and both of them were viewed as huge longshots for the roster and even unlikely to make the practice squad. Ashford, who played for Northern Illinois in college, is a UDFA who hasn’t shown anything in training camp, unlike Sims who has shown the occasional flash. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Sims get his walking papers soon.