A closer look at the Patriots decision to part ways with several veterans
|07.29.11 at 3:44 pm ET|
FOXBORO — The Patriots decision to cut several notable veterans on Friday afternoon — including veterans Ty Warren, Alge Crumpler and Nick Kaczur — is likely not so much a commentary on what the franchise thinks of them as players, but more of an indication that the team is continuing to shuffle money around in hopes of creating more space under the cap.
While Kaczur had shown value because of his versatility (he has played both guard and tackle) and ability to add depth at the tackle spot, he was carrying a big cap number because of a big deal he had signed a few years back, and likely would not accept a salary cut. (You also have to figure that this move could also lead to the signing of free agent tackle Matt Light, who could still provide depth at the position and serve as a mentor to first-round pick Nate Solder.)
Meanwhile, given Crumpler’s contributions over the last year and Warren’s body of work dating back several years is a likely sign that the team is hoping they will be able to re-sign the two of them at a reduced rate. When healthy, Warren has been a powerful force along the defensive line. Meanwhile, Crumpler’s locker-room presence in 2010 was immense, serving as a mentor to rookie tight ends Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez.
However, it’s important to note that in the context of this conversation, both Crumpler and Warren had been dealing with what could be described as moderate-to-severe injury issues over the last year — Crumpler had shoulder surgery in the offseason, while Warren was out all last season because of a hip injury.
Late Friday afternoon, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported that Warren, a Texas native, had already expressed interest in playing for the Cowboys. The story also revealed that Warren had failed his conditioning test this week with New England. If the Patriots are unable to re-sign Warren, this likely means an expanded role for new defensive lineman Albert Haynesworth, as well as an opportunity for some of the younger defensive linemen like Ron Brace to see some playing time.
The release of the seven players will provide the Patriots with increased flexibility under the cap, and with several quality defensive players still on the market who could fit in New England (Matt Roth? Manny Lawson), the Patriots could be positioning themselves for a run at a high-profile free agent once the frenzy begins Friday at 6 p.m.
In all, the team released seven players: Warren, Crumpler and Kaczur, as well as linebacker Tully Banta-Cain, cornerback Tony Carter, defensive lineman Marcus Stroud and rookie free agent Ryan Coulson. The cuts of Banta-Cain, Carter and Stroud were expected (and reported on earlier this week), while it appears Coulson, a rookie long snapper/linebacker from Nevada, could be the first casualty of training camp.
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