Roster Cuts: Impact Analysis

When the Patriots reduced their roster, players on the bubble knew their time in camp had come to an end. But for fans wondering why some names on the list were let go, Patriots Insider explains some of the reasons for the moves. Also inside: Precut predictions comparison (see how we did) and new predictions for the practice squad list.

We had a look at the Patriots roster predictions here ( LINK ), and thought that our early predictions weren't too far off from reality. Sure there were a couple of changes, but considering those predictions were made before the Rodney Harrison news, Danny Baugher's release and seeing David Thomas walking around on the sideline of the Giants game, the final results were pretty close.

Here's a look at the current makeup of the roster

Quarterbacks

Keepers: Tom Brady, Matt Cassel, Matt Gutierrez
Cuts: Vinny Testaverde

How we did: Missed on Vinny for Gutierrez. But we were willing to take more risk with the rookie than the team.

Analysis: Vinny T's release was one of the more sensible moves that the team could make. After all, how many teams really want a 43-year old quarterback who doesn't' know their offense on the team? With Testaverde's release, rookie Matt Gutierrez makes it through the cuts.

Gutierrez didn't overly impress with his reps during training camp, but a lot of that had to do with his working with third string players. When he did get to move up late in camp - during Tom Brady's absence - he struggled with consistency. That struggle was a primary reason Gutierrez was on the bubble. The challenge for the Patriots was deciding whether it was worth the risk to try to sneak Gutierrez through waivers and onto the practice squad. With all the teams desperately seeking a future signal caller in the Tom Brady mold, it was reasonable to assume Gutierrez would be claimed and the Patriots would lose out on their chance to retain a potential future star. The team obviously didn't want to lose the high school record holder and former Michigan quarterback to another team, so Testaverde was shown the door.

Expect to see Testaverde back in uniform at some point during the year, especially if Tom Brady gets shaken up. Testaverde knows the offense, is willing to be a role player and has enough presence to carry the team for a short period if necessary.

OFFENSE

Running Backs

Keepers: Laurence Maroney, Sammy Morris, Heath Evans, Kevin Faulk
Cuts: Quinton Smith

How we did: No surprises, got them all.

Analysis: The Patriots have been stable at the running back spot. The only concern that the team may have had would be for Evans' spot as he competed with Garrett Mills for the hybrid fullback position. Evans is a more solid blocker, and both can run. Evans had an impressive run against Carolina, which put to rest any question about his rushing abilities. Smith may make the practice squad, but that's not a sure thing.

Wide Receivers

Keepers: Randy Moss, Donte Stallworth, Wes Welker, Kelley Washington, Reche Caldwell, Jabar Gaffney
Cuts: Bam Childress, Kelvin Kight, C.J. Jones, Chris Dunlap

How we did: Initially Caldwell was on the cut list, but after confirming with a source on the trade rumors, he was put back on the keeper list. So the revised version yesterday was dead on.

Analysis: Rumors Circulating the media that Washington or Caldwell would either be traded or cut were prevalent. Most of the sentiment out there was that Caldwell would be the one left in the cold when the music stopped. If the Patriots were serious about trading one of the two, keeping them both on the roster was a good way to upset a lot of GMs who expected a potential starter to be released. At this point the Patriot have time to make a trade before a decision has to be made on Troy Brown or Chad Jackson, both of whom are on the Reserve/PUP list and won't be back for at least 6 weeks.

The starters for the season would most likely be Moss, Stallworth and Welker. Washington showed he has potential o run after the catch, which is probably why he's still around. Caldwell and Gaffney have their timing in order with Tom Brady, so if Moss suffers another injury setback, the Patriots have plenty of talent ready to come off the bench - unlike last year.

Regarding the Moss rumors. They are rumors, and to be fair, we've participated in those in the past. But most of the Moss rumors are a lot of far-fetched items including the recent one of him potentially being released.

Tight Ends

Keepers: Kyle Brady, Ben Watson, David Thomas (Activated from PUP)
Cuts: Marcellus Rivers, Garrett Mills, Brian Jones

How we did: Thomas' return was a little earlier than expected, which threw off the starting three. We had Rivers making the cut due to Thomas' injury.

Analysis: Kyle Brady needs to be back in the lineup for the Patriots to effectively run the ball and pass protect. He's an abundance of talent that has no equal on the roster. Watson can stretch the field and is coming into his own as a top talent in the league. With the receiving corps on the roster, Watson should have a solid season. Thomas' return is good news. The talented end from Texas showed significant improvement from his rookie season.

The loss of Rivers was unexpected. He showed well during the preseason, although Brian Jones displayed equally suitable blocking abilities. Bother Rivers and Jones were added during camp; so to see either of them make the final roster would have been a surprise.

Garrett Mils' departure can mean only one thing, the Patriots want to put him on the practice squad while Kyle Brady is still around and Heath Evans is in the backfield. Mills has a load of raw talent, but the key word is "raw". If he clears waivers, he'll make the practice squad, but other teams needing a hybrid FB/TE/H-back will certainly be interested.

Offensive Line

Keepers: Matt Light, Logan Mankins, Dan Koppen, Stephen Neal, Nick Kaczur, Wesley Britt, Ryan O'Callaghan, Billy Yates, Russ Hochstein
Cuts: Gene Mruczkowski, Clint Oldenburg, Mike Elgin, Corey Hilliard

How we did: Dead on. When we're good we're good.

Analysis: Ther were no surprises here. All three rookies need a load of work to be ready to move into the starting rotation. They're eligible for the practice squad, but they may not all get invitations. Mike Elgin needs to work on balance at the center position. Oldenburg has the size to be successful, but must improve his footwork.

Gene Mruczkowski has to be resigned to the fact that he'll be released and re-signed on a regular basis with this team. Not quite good enough to knock off Billy Yates or Russ Hochstein Mruczkowski has plenty to offer as a backup. The rest of the line returns from last year with Kaczur beating out O'Callaghan for the starting role by the looks of things.

DEFENSE

Defensive Line

Keepers: Ty Warrant, Jarvis Green, Vince Wilfork. Mike Wright, Le Kevin Smith, Kareem Brown
Cuts: Rashad Moore, Zach West, Santonio Thomas
Moves Richard Seymour to Reserve/PUP

How we did: Dead one except the move of Seymour to the Reserve/PUP list.

Analysis: No surprises here. Even after a good game on Thursday night against the Giants, Thomas couldn't avoid the cut list. West has practice squad written all over, unless the team finds some gems on the wire (and there are some good ones).

Le Kevin Smith did well in the preseason to earn his roster spot. Kareem Brown has too much potential not to give a chance to. He would never make it through waivers.

The starting group remains the same, although th emove to put Seymour on PUP was a mild Surprise. The Patriots have a touch challenge ahead of them with some teams featuring above average rushing attacks. It will be interesting to see how the unit responds without Seymour in the lineup. Jarvis Green is more than capable of filling in until Seymour returns, but the loss will put more pressure on the linebackers to stop the run.


Linebackers

Keepers: Adalius Thomas, Tedy Bruschi, Mike Vrabel, Rosevelt Colvin, Junior Seau, Pierre Woods, Eric Alexander, Larry Izzo
Cuts: Justin Rogers, Chad Brown, Corey Mays
Moves Oscar Lua to Reserve/Injured

How we did: Analysis of the Giants game, we predicted Lua to IR because of his knee. Other than that, only Rogers was cut, the rest were right on. We did think Corey Mays would get a spot when Lua went to IR instead of being cut.

Analysis: The Patriots must know there will be other linebackers available so they weren't' as concerned about risking putting Rogers or Mays through waivers. The team is loaded with talent at the starting position. Alexander, Woods and Seau have held down the primary backup duties throughout camp and all three have looked decent doing so. Despite missing most of camp in a red jersey, Alexander worked hard to stay in shape. He ran throughout practice when his unit was on the field during drills, so he is definitely in shape.

Cornerbacks

Keepers: Asante Samuel, Ellis Hobbs, Randall Gay, Willie Andrews, Tory James
Cuts: Dante Wesley, Larry Anam
Moves Samuel is a roster exemption until Sept 10.

How we did: We had Wesley swapped with Tory James. The feeling was that Wesley was a better special teams player.

Analysis: Tory James managed to hold onto his roster spot, liely because Asante Samuel may not be ready for action for week one. The other impact players include Gay and Hobbs who would be the team's starters if Samuel hadn't reported. Andrews is in this mix due to his versatility as a nickel corner / nickel safety.

Anam was a long shot and could conceivably be added to the practice squad. He struggled at times, so he may not get that invitation. Wesley was the only surprise cut. When the Patriots traded a Draft pick to the Bears for him, it was conditional on Wesley making the roster.


Safeties

Keepers: James Sanders, Eugene Wilson, Brandon Meriweather, Mel Mitchell Rashad Baker
Cuts: None
Moves Rodney Harrison to Reserve/Suspended

How we did: We had Mitchell getting cut, before the Harrison news, then no after. Backer we assumed would be gone, but the injury to Wilson and Harrison's absence changed that.

Analysis: Harrison's suspension thrown the secondary back into a state of flux… again. No matter how hard the Patriots try to solidify the secondary, there is a roster shuffle every season. With Wilson's hamstring issue and Harrison's suspension, the team will need all the reserve safeties on the roster. Note: Willie Andres and Brandon Meriweather have swapped spots often in camp. Either could play safety or corner. Both are listed as defensive backs because of this.

The big question for this unit is injuries. Baker is nursing one, Wilson is nursing another. Without Harrison, there could be a host of changes on game days until every one is back. That could spell trouble with the Jets, Chargers and Bengals on the schedule before Harrison's suspension is over.


SPECIALISTS

Kicker: Stepehen Gostkowski
Punter: Chris Hanson
Long Snapper: Loni Paxton

How we did: Originally we had Baugher in this spot. Hanson took over and we though he might be replaced by Paul Ernster who worked out for the team on Friday.

Analysis: The only surprise is Chris Hanson remains the starting punter. That may change soon.

 

PRACTICE SQUAD

Best guess: LB Justin Rogers, LB Corey Mays, OL Mike Elgin, OL Clint Oldenburg, WR C.J. Jones, WR Bam Childress, TE Garrett Mills, DL Santonio Thomas

Dunlap ad West are options here if one of the others is claimed by another team. Kight. Moore and Rivers are not eligible, unfiortunately.

Jon Scott has covered the NFL since 1995. He is a member of the Pro Football Writers of America and a long time contributor to the Scout.com network. A New England native, Scott has followed the Patriots for over two decades and covered the team since 2001. He can be found in the Insider's Lounge under the handle JSinCT

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