Another day, and another New England Patriots cut has reportedly been made.
Donte Stallworth is the latest victim.
It was a bit of a surprise when the Patriots took a chance on Stallworth this offseason. Stallworth was charged with DUI manslaughter in 2009, according to the Associated Press, for which he received a one-season suspension. Since returning to the NFL, he hasn't started a single game in two years with the Ravens and the Redskins. In 19 games, he tallied two touchdowns.
But Stallworth made sense for the Patriots.
He was, after all, a part of the notorious 18-1 team in 2007, and that year, he played in all 16 games and started nine. He finished with 697 yards and three touchdowns, and he established himself as a reliable option for Tom Brady, even as Randy Moss and Wes Welker hogged the spotlight.
Now, with one preseason game remaining, Stallworth's second run with the Patriots has reportedly come to an end. His numbers in the preseason have been far from staggering—his best game was his last, in which he tallied three receptions for 40 yards—but he could have been an asset this season for a Patriots team that could use some experience and leadership at the position.
Now that Stallworth is reportedly on his way out, that responsibility will fall squarely onto the shoulders of Brandon Lloyd, who has yet to play a meaningful game in New England.
Last season, the Patriots relied heavily on Rob Gronkowski. That worked out well, until he hurt his ankle in the postseason and was quite obviously limited in the Super Bowl. We all know how that ended.
Fellow tight end Aaron Hernandez also had a solid sophomore season, but in the Super Bowl, he, too, was conspicuously quiet.
And we all remember the image that encapsulates Welker's Super Bowl XLVI experience.
Last February, when there were only two teams left standing, it became exceedingly clear that the Patriots—though far from offensively challenged—were missing something in their receiving corps. They had a lot of young talent, a former Super Bowl MVP who couldn't seem to shake the injury bug and a veteran on his way to a career year.
But in the playoffs, they needed more depth. They needed more experience. They needed someone to pick up the slack when Gronk went down, when Deion Branch got injured and when Welker was struggling.
Who knows? Maybe it could've been Stallworth this season.
He has the experience, and he has the requisite familiarity with Brady and the Patriots system. Perhaps he could have come up big here and there for the Patriots when they really needed a veteran to step up.
But New England had too many wide receivers and not enough roster spots. Stallworth, it appears, was the expendable one.
Hopefully, Welker and Lloyd will be able to make sure he isn't missed.
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