Every year there are typically a few names that are always big surprises when it comes down to final roster cuts, and there were certainly some names that were unexpected on Saturday as the Patriots pared down their roster to the mandatory 53.
Here’s a rundown of the players released Saturday:
Linebackers – Number Released (2)
LB Kamu Grugier-Hill
LB Kevin Snyder
Thoughts: Grugier-Hill is probably the biggest surprise here, especially considering his performance Thursday night where he put a brutal hit on New York’s Bobby Rainey on a punt return that made everyone in MetLife stadium audibly gasp. But it was a competitive group, and after Freeny’s extension and the emergence of Barkevious Mingo, there just wasn’t enough room for Grugier-Hill to land on the roster. As for Snyder, Doug Kyed of NESN reported that he had surgery on his hand on Saturday, so he’s apparently headed to injured reserve.
Wide Receivers – Number Released (5)
WR Keshawn Martin
WR Aaron Dobson
WR DeAndre Carter
WR Chris Harper
WR Devin Lucien
Thoughts: This obviously marks the end of the line for Dobson, who we could potentially see finally become the player everyone hoped he’d be here with another team. That will certainly be irritating given the fact the Patriots could have used a player like him in this offense, but Bill Belichick apparently is tired of waiting around for that to happen, so now they’re moving on. Martin suffered an injury in the final game, which you’d have to think played a factor in their decision, which may have been the case with Lucien after he got hurt Thursday night also. As for Harper and Carter, neither of those two were a big surprise. Barring any changes, they’ll now start the year with Julian Edelman, Danny Amendola, CHris Hogan, and Malcolm Mitchell on the roster.
Gaffney played well during the preseason but also got hurt in the final game. (USA TODAY Images)
Runningbacks – Total Released (2)
RB Tyler Gaffney
RB Joey Iosefa
Thoughts: The only real surprise is Gaffney, but he got hurt Thursday night and D.J. Foster played well enough that it seems the coaches were comfortable enough with what they saw to give him a roster spot. Reports indicate that Gaffney could end up back in New England on injured reserve in the event he passes through waivers. Otherwise that leaves them with four running backs, which includes Foster, LeGarrette Blount, James White and Brandon Bolden.
Offensive Line – Total Released (2)
OG Jon Halapio
OG Chris Barker
Thoughts: Only two players released here, as the Patriots went with Nate Solder, Cameron Fleming, Joe Thuney, Marcus Cannon, Jonathan Cooper, LaAdrian Waddle, Shaq Mason, David Andrews and Ted Karras to begin 2016. The health of Solder is one of the concerns heading into next Sunday after suffering what seemed to be a hamstring injury Thursday, but overall it’s a pretty good group heading into Week 1.
Defensive Tackles – Players Released (3)
DT Woodrow Hamilton
DT Joe Vellano
DT Markus Kuhn
Thoughts: No surprises here with the exception of Vellano. But this is a deep group that saw some terrific play this preseason, with Anthony Johnson, Alan Branch, Malcolm Brown, Vincent Valentine rounding out a group of players that should be pretty disruptive up front for the Patriots this season.
Defensive Backs – Players Released (3)
CB Darryl Roberts
CB Cre’Von LeBlanc
S Vinnie Sunseri
Thoughts: LeBlanc and Roberts were reportedly both given the waived/injured designation, opening up the door for a return to injured reserve for those two players. But otherwise, the Patriots take a pretty deep group at cornerback into 2016 behind Malcolm Butler, Logan Ryan, Justin Coleman, Jonathan Jones and rookie Cyrus Jones. Sunseri was fighting to try and make it into a deep group at safety that features Devin McCourty, Patrick Chung, Duron Harmon, Nate Ebner, and Jordan Richards and couldn’t break in.
Tight Ends – Players Released (1)
TE Bryce Williams
Thoughts: Good for Clay Harbor, who seemed like he could have been the odd man out after seeing the play of A.J. Derby during the preseason. But it’s possible that after seeing what happened with Zach Sudfeld, Belichick may have been playing it safe by keeping Harbor here as he’s both a sure-handed pass catcher and a terrific blocker, which given the fact injuries happen, Belichcik may be looking to make sure the Patriots have enough to weather any storm that could come their way this season.
Defensive – Ends Players Released (2)
DE Geneo Grissom
DE Rufus Johnson
Thoughts: Heading up that list was defensive end Geneo Grissom, who was a third round pick a year ago and seemed like he had made a lot of progress in this defense and was poised to take the next step this season. But Trey Flowers was great during the preseason, as was Chris Long, which created a numbers game that forced Grissom and Johnson out of the equation.
There could certainly be changes before next weekend when the regular season begins, but for now the team will turn the page as they’ll begin preparations this week to battle the Cardinals next Sunday night out in Arizona.
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