Surprise Cuts May Mean a Big Move Coming
Today is the day teams have to trim their rosters down to 53 players by 6 pm. With the deadline approaching, the list of players who will be looking for work elsewhere grows, and as usual with the Patriots, there have been some surprises. The biggest surprise name to get cut so far is DE/OLB Derrick Burgess. Burgess was expected to be a starter despite playing poorly because, quite frankly, the team doesn’t have anyone else. However, rookie Jermaine Cunningham, who missed all of the preseason with an ankle injury, is close to returning. If Cunningham’s return is part of the reasoning for Burgess’ release, then that’s an awful lot of confidence in a player who hasn’t taken a single NFL snap. This leads me to believe something (or someone) else is coming down the pike…
To add to my suspicion, the Pats also released special teams stalwart Pierre Woods. Woods could start (though not very effectively) in a pinch if necessary. He started 5 games last season. With Woods and Burgess out, that leaves Cunningham, Rob Ninkovich, Tull Banta-Cain, and Marques Murrell. That’s not exactly a group one would have complete confidence in as their sole outside linebackers in a 3-4 defense. Earlier today, ESPN’s Adam Schefter tweeted that the Raiders were listening to trade inquiries for CB Chris Johnson and LB Thomas Howard. Both players play positions of need for the Pats, and Belichick and Al Davis have been frequent trade partners recently. Could it have been the Patriots inquiring on Johnson and Howard? Thomas Howard in particular intrigues me because he is a solid OLB.
The Pats could also be eying players cut from other teams. Former Patriot Jarvis Green was cut from Denver, so that’s a name that jumps out immediately as someone who could bring help at DE. Bobby Carpenter, a LB who has played mostly with Dallas in their 3-4, was released by the Rams. The Chargers cut former Bears CB Nathan Vasher. He could come in as a veteran option at corner. I wouldn’t start him over Darius Butler or Devin McCourty (unless they struggle mightily), but he would but a better nickel option over Jonathon “Earthwind Moreland” Wilhite.
In another shocker, the Pats released WR Sam Aiken. Aiken has always underwhelmed as a receiving option but was a solid special teams player, serving as captain last season. He had a solid preseason, so I thought (and most experts thought) that he was on solid ground with the team. Apparently not. Aiken joins Rod Owens and Darnell Jenkins as receivers who have been cut. Matthew Slater and Buddy Farnham are the only wide-outs on the bubble still on the roster at the time of this article. Here’s a list of the other cuts not yet mentioned (so far):
- DL Damione Lewis
- OL Eric Ghiaciuc
- TE Carson Butler
- TE Rob Myers
- G Rich Ohrnberger
- G/C Ted Larsen
- T Thomas Welch
- LB Eric Alexander
- RB Thomas Clayton