The New England Patriots are cleaning up house in an effort to get down to the mandatory 75 players allowed on the roster tomorrow, and the Patriots are now at 77 after making 11 moves today. They released five players from the squad, with none of the releases coming as a surprise. The Patriots have cut ties with wide receiver Kamar Aiken, backup linebacker and special teams player Niko Koutouvides, Rutgers UDFA CB Brandon Jones, cornerback LeQuan Lewis, and long snapper Mike Zupancic. Below are some assorted thoughts on their releases.
Aiken is the most notable name of the five, and he had a slim chance of making the roster to begin training camp. He was impressive in OTAs and minicamp and showed up well in training camp, but the wide receiver position is set right now. The six players set to make it are all essentially locks, and there was no place for a seventh receiver in Aiken. I’m hoping he can make it to the Patriots practice squad, as he looks like a decent player. But I believe somebody else will take a jump on him, because he is worth a roster spot for another team out there despite never catching a regular season pass.
Niko Koutouvides is a known player due to his tenure in this league (nine seasons), but there was no spot for him. The Patriots are set at six linebackers (five if you think Steve Beauharnais should be cut, which I definitely don’t), and Koutouvides’s special teams need is now obsolete with the addition of Beauharnais and the health of Dane Fletcher. Jeff Tarpinian is another linebacker and special teamer set for the chopping block, but he is younger and better than Koutouvides (ditto on the former for LB/STer Mike Rivera).
The Patriots indeed decided to re-sign Stephon Morris, leaving Brandon Jones an odd-man out at cornerback. He is suffering from an injury and didn’t do well enough in the preseason to justify a roster spot over Morris, who had a promising career at Penn State. As for Lewis and Zupancic, those guys were not threats to make the roster (Zupancic never really provided long snapping competition for incumbent Danny Aiken).