New England Patriots fans were the undisputed Super Bowl champions of Thursday with two big acquisitions in Albert Haynesworth and Chad OchoCinco. That being said, Friday was all about cuts, as the Patriots released five of their own.
Among those cut were veteran defensive linemen Ty Warren, Tony Carter, Alge Crumpler, Nick Kaczur and rookie free agent Ryan Coulson. They also officially announced the release of Tully Banta-Cain and Marcus Stroud, both of which has confirmed reports over the past few days.
Coulson was only signed a few days ago, so his cut is virtually meaningless. The rest, however, have at least some impact on the roster and the camp battles. Let's take a look.
This cut was a bit of a surprise, but with so many tight ends on the roster, someone had to go. It definitely wasn't going to be Aaron Hernandez or Rob Gronkowski, as the two rookie tight ends both came on very strong in their first years.
Fifth round draft pick Lee Smith from Marshall is a tight end in very much the same mold of what Crumpler's role has been for the Patriots. He is a blocking tight end who can do some spot work as a pass catcher.
Crumpler's veteran presence was great as the Patriots brought on Hernandez and Gronkowski, but the team looks to take the training wheels off on those two young guys and let them ride free in the Patriots system.
Props to Ian Rapoport over at the Boston Herald for predicting this one way back in February.
Kaczur's release was a cap move, no question, but we haven't even seen him since the first practice of last year's training camp when he went down with a back injury and never came back.
His services were indeed very useful in his time as a Patriot, but he was often considered the weakest link on the offensive line. What better way to replace a weak link than with a 6'8" 320-pound monster in Sebastian Vollmer taking over on the right side.
That is, of course, if they are able to keep hold of Matt Light. If not, it could send the entire offensive line into a frenzy of players being moved to different spots to accommodate, as the team is not high on starting Nate Solder from the beginning.
My thoughts on the release of Tully Banta-Cain can be found here.
To reiterate, the biggest weakness of the Patriots defense last year was in generating a pass rush. The release of Tully Banta-Cain only adds more questions to the scenario at outside linebacker.
There's a deep battle brewing on the outside between Rob Ninkovich, Jermaine Cunningham, Eric Moore and rookie free agents Alex Silvestro, Clay Nurse and Aaron Lavarius.
Deep, however, doesn't necessarily translate to productive. There needs to be some improvement in their pressure, especially on third downs. Releasing Tully Banta-Cain only adds to the question marks at an already shaky position on the roster.
When the New England Patriots announced the signing of Marcus Stroud just before the lockout, the question was to what degree he would contribute. The answer: zero. Nothing. He didn't even practice.
It was thought that he could provide some veteran mentoring to the young depth on the defensive line, including guys like Myron Pryor, Ron Brace, Brandon Deaderick, Kyle Love and others. It was also thought that he could push them in competition, getting the most out of them as they fought for their jobs.
The primary hope, as it has been with every player the Patriots have brought in all offseason, was that he could help out the worst third down defense in the league, possibly by playing on the interior of the defensive line in some sub packages as a pass rusher up the middle.
None of those projections will come to be. Stroud's release, however, means far less than the next person on the list.
Comcast SportsNet New England's Tom E. Curran wrote a great piece on a conversation he had with Ty Warren after it was announced that the star defensive linemen was cut from the team. Among his great points was the number on Ty Warren's contract, a whopping $5.878 million salary cap hit according to PatsCap.com.
But my friend Mike Dussault of PatsPropaganda sheds light on another subject of the conversation, where Warren says, "I think the team was looking to do some things differently on defense and I wasn't in the plan."
Well, Warren is a great run-stuffer in the base 3-4 and a great interior pass rusher in the sub package. How wouldn't he fit into either of those plans? That has Dussault thinking the Patriots could be concocting something unique, perhaps utilizing a 2-4-5 package next year with their massive defensive linemen up front and five defensive backs, and a core group of four linebackers.