New England Patriots Release Tully Banta-Cain: What's Next in NFL Free Agency?

Erik FrenzSenior Writer IJuly 26, 2011

LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 25:  Tully Banta-Cain (#95) of the New England Patriots celebrates scoring the fourth touchdown during the NFL International Series match between New England Patriots and Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Wembley Stadium on October 25, 2009 in London, England. This is the third occasion where a regular season NFL match has been played in London.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Elsa/Getty Images

The NFL lockout ended just more than 24 hours ago, and already the media frenzy more closely resembles a tornado than the traditional whirlwind we're used to in free agency.

ESPN's Adam Schefter reports the New England Patriots will release outside linebacker Tully Banta-Cain on Thursday.

He led the Patriots in sacks over the past two years with 15 in that span.

As such, this may seem entirely out of left field but Banta-Cain required surgery on an abdominal tear that will keep him out of action for at least the next four to five weeks.

Apparently, the Patriots are not content to enter training camp with the corps of Jermaine Cunningham, Rob Ninkovich, Eric Moore and Markell Carter.

Since the bell rung on free agency yesterday afternoon, the Patriots have been aggressive in pursuing players they have in their cross hairs. They have already signed three players who could potentially fill the roster spot vacated by Banta-Cain.

Those names include Alex Silvestro, Ryan Coulson and Clay Nurse. All three played defensive end in college but project as outside linebackers in the 3-4 system or as pass rush specialists in the sub package.

The Patriots may not stop there, though, as a couple of veteran free agents remain available once the free agent signing period officially begins Friday, July 29. Among those of interest are Matt Roth and Mathias Kiwanuka.

Roth has more experience in the 3-4 than Kiwanuka, while Kiwanuka appears far more flexible in where he can line up than Roth, having played defensive end and outside linebacker in the 4-3. 

Whether the Patriots pursue one of those available free agents or not remains to be seen, but for all intents and purposes, Tully Banta-Cain's time in a Patriots uniform has come to an end for the second time in four years.


Erik Frenz is the co-host of the PatsPropaganda and Frenz podcast. Follow Erik on Twitter @erikfrenz.