Brandon Hughes #27 of the Philadelphia Eagles breaks up a pass intended for Donte' Stallworth #19 of the New England Patriots during a preseason game at Gillette Stadium on August 20, 2012 in Foxboro, Massachusetts.
With the Patriots needing to trim their roster by ten players to reach 75 by the league deadline of 4 PM ET today, news has trickled in this morning and the early parts of this afternoon on various moves the Patriots have made, or are prepared to make. A quick update of each move:
Extension for Aaron Heranandez. This is the big move of the day, even if it doesn't impact the 75 man limit. With Hernandez' extension, the Patriots have secured the league's best tight end duo for the better of the decade, with Hernandez now signed through 2018, and Rob Gronkowski signed through 2019.
Donte Stallworth Released. The Patriots were expected to keep one or two of the trio of Deion Branch, Donte Stallworth, and Jabar Gaffney. Donte Stallworth initially appeared to be ahead of the pack, but Deion Branch has outperformed him in game action, and Jabar Gaffney still has higher upside if healthy. The Patriots are likely releasing Stallworth now so that he has more time to sign with another team before the start of the regular season. If he goes unsigned, it wouldn't surprise me if he remains on the team's emergency list.
Jake Ballard Placed on Reserve/PUP. Ballard is still expected to miss the entire season, but for now, he'll go to the reserve/PUP list, which means he won't be able to practice for the first six weeks of the season. At that point, the Patriots will have three weeks to decide whether or not to have him begin practice, and another three weeks to activate him if he does practice. My hunch is that he still ends up on injured reserve, although perhaps his recovery is going quicker than expected. Either way, this move reduces a roster spot, and gives the Patriots flexibility.
No Fullback? Spencer Larsen Cut. The Patriots may not elect to keep a fullback on the roster, as FB/LB Spencer Larsen was reportedly released this afternoon. When Larsen signed a two year deal with a $250,000 signing bonus earlier this offseason, many expected him to stick to the 53 man roster. The Patriots still have Eric Kettani on the active roster, but at this point, he'll probably land on the practice squad. I wouldn't expect the Patriots to carry a fullback on their regular season roster.
More cuts after the jump!
Gerard Warren Let Go. In a bit of a surprising move, the Patriots released veteran defensive lineman Gerard Warren. Warren had two productive years in New England, but age was clearly a factor. The strong play of Ron Brace clearly didn't help his case for a roster spot. Just a hunch, but I think the Patriots will keep four defensive tackles: Vince Wilfork, Brace, Kyle Love, and Brandon Deaderick.
DT Tim Bulman Also Released. In addition to Gerard Warren, the Patriots also reportedly released defensive lineman Tim Bulman. Bulman was signed earlier in training camp, but didn't see much playing time in the last two preseason games. With the depth the Patriots had at defensive tackle, he was a long-shot to make the roster.
Defensive Backs Josh Barrett and Ross Ventrone Cut. The Patriots also reportedly released two defensive backs in Josh Barrett and Ross Ventrone, both of who spent time on the Patriots 53 man roster last season. Barrett is physically giften, but has little NFL experience due to a constant run of injuries. Ventrone became infamous last year due to his high number of roster transactions, and was seen as a fringe roster guy / special teams player. Expect him to stay on the Patriots emergency list.
We're just shy of 1:00 PM, and if the reports of these cuts are all accurate, that would put the Patriots at 78 players. They'll need to be at 75 by 5:00 PM ET.