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Patriots ‘have all the respect in the world’ for James Sanders

08.29.11 at 8:45 pm ET
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Safe to say, James Sanders wasn’t the only one in the Patriots locker room stunned by his release on Monday. But veterans and rookies alike know that the unpredictable is the norm in the NFL and while Sanders was likable and respected by everyone in the locker room, he was given his walking papers primarily because he was scheduled to make $2.8 million in 2011, a lot to pay your third or fourth safety on the roster.

On Monday, shortly after Sanders got his walking papers from the Pats, word quickly spread to his teammates that he was looking elsewhere for work.

Linebacker Jerod Mayo played with Sanders for the last two seasons and got to know Sanders and appreciated his leadership on and off the field.

“James is a great player,” Mayo said Monday after getting the news. “It’€™s not really my job to evaluate guys and how they do on the field. Coach Belichick made the decision, and did what he thought was the best decision for the team. I have all the respect in the world for James.”

As for coach Bill Belichick, he agreed with Mayo’s assessment on the safety whom he selected in the fourth round of the 2005 NFL Draft.

“Tough release there with James Sanders,” Belichick said. “James has been a good guy to have on this team. A hard-working kid. He really has developed from the time he came to us as a draft choice from Fresno [State] and he’€™s been a really solid team player for us but we just, part of the move, needed to release people. But he was a tough one.”

Any regrets?

“Well, we just did what we felt was best for the football team at this time,” Belichick said. “That’€™s the best way I can answer it. Not a lot of negatives with James, but we have to select the players that we feel like are best for our team.”

As for Sanders, he did what any savvy professional athlete would do given Monday’s circumstances; he took to twitter to thank New England fans and teammates, and ask anyone if they knew of anyone needing a safety.

Odds are, given his reputation he won’t be unemployed long. He certainly has good references in New England.

Read More: Bill Belichick, James Sanders, Jerod Mayo, New England Patriots
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