New England Patriots cornerback Ras-I Dowling (21) limps off the field during the fourth quarter against the New York Jets at Gillette Stadium. The New England Patriots won 29-26. Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

New England Patriots Analysis: Ras-I Dowling release

The New England Patriots decided to pull a fast one on us by releasing cornerback Ras-I Dowling yesterday, and the cut came a day after the mandatory cut down to 75-men. The Patriots were quite active following the final release to 75 before the deadline (that was UDFA defensive tackle Anthony Rashad White), as they cut offensive lineman Brice Schwab in order to add Gilbert Pena from waivers, and then they decided to cut Dowling.

Nobody should be surprised by the release of Ras-I Dowling, reported by Adam Schefter, but it did come at a sudden time prior to the fourth preseason game. Even so, Dowling’s status on the roster was never a question of productivity, but rather a question of health; playing in another preseason game wouldn’t significantly sway the Patriots either way.

The 33rd pick in the 2011 draft, Dowling was expected to be something for the Patriots at corner and fill a need there, but he was only able to play in nine games in two seasons. He has also been dealing with an injury this August, and that likely spelled his time here in Foxboro. I wanted the Patriots to give Dowling another season and a third year to be healthy and productive, but the Patriots decided to pull the plug.

I wonder how severe Dowling’s injury is, and I’m sure the New England Patriots believed that it just wasn’t worth it at this time. They aren’t alone, as a few Pats fans have told me that they are sick of Dowling’s inability to stay healthy and have always wanted him to be cut. Dowling is one of those big, long corners, though, that has a lot of value in this league, and it’s never been a question of talent for Ras-I Dowling. However, health has been a massive question for Dowling even in college, and he just hasn’t been healthy enough to showcase his ability on the field.

Cutting Dowling definitely hurts the Patriots at corner depth-wise, because the fourth-best corner on the roster is now Logan Ryan. If Alfonzo Dennard is suspended, then the Patriots could be forced to play somebody best-suited in the slot on the outside (Kyle Arrington and Ryan both project as better slot corners). Ryan already looks like a quality dime corner, but I don’t know how much I trust a cornerback trio of Arrington, Dennard, and Aqib Talib.

We do need to consider one more thing in the aftermath of Dowling’s release, and that is it’s endorsement of the other players on the roster. In the same way that releasing Donald Jones was a sign of confidence in the rookie receivers on the roster (one that seems to have been fulfilled), I wonder if the release of Ras-I Dowling signals that the Patriots like what they see in the other corners. We know what we have in Marquice Cole, but I wonder if the Patriots are high on Stephon Morris (he looks like the kind of corner Bill Belichick likes with his ball skills and run defense, and they did re-sign him a day before 75-man cuts) and Justin Green, who is a UDFA out of Illinois and made it over Rutgers UDFA Brandon Jones on cut day.

Now, where will Ras-IR land next? My money is on the Jacksonville Jaguars.

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  • Gary Wolff

    As you said, no surprise here. I had Justin Green taking Dowling’s spot on the roster in my 53 man roster projection. Looking forward to seeing Stephon Morris tonight. I haven’t seen him play. The Patriots definitely need to find some quality depth on the outside because Arrington is a liability there in the the passing game. He needs to play on the inside. Also, McCourty must stay at safety as he is the only player on the roster who is qualified to play the position as a starter. We can’t afford to shuffle him back to corner as there is no one to play in the middle in his place. That said, between Green, Morris, & Ryan, there should be at least 1 quality player that emerges, if not two.
    So later in the season, I feel the corner position will be fairly solid (barring injury to Talib of course, and also assuming Dennard is not in jail for an extended period). The safety position, well, that might be the weak link in the chain this year, as the interior d-line depth will also solidify as the season goes on.

  • Gary Wolff

    Given the signing of Morris, in my 53 man roster projection, where I had the Patriots keeping an ‘extra’ interior offensive lineman (who I predict would later be cut to pick up a d-line or safety player after roster cut downs), I’d change that now to keeping an extra corner, i.e. Ryan, Green, & Morris, in place of the extra o-lineman.

    • Joe Soriano

      I’m not sure who I would swap for a CB on the depth chart right now, but I am 100% sure that Ryan makes the roster. I haven’t been too impressed with Green, but he isn’t terrible for a UDFA by any means. I view Morris as the better player, and I want to see what he can do tonight; he’s intriguing. The Patriots have a lot of options right now, and it is possible that they share a brain with you and see something they like in Green as well.

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