In case you hadn't heard, NFL teams must have their rosters down to 75 players by 4:00 PM ET tomorrow. The Patriots have gotten a head start on their initial round of cuts, by releasing veteran defenders Tommy Kelly, Will Smith, and James Anderson.
Those three players don't figure to be the only at least somewhat-surprising cuts the Patriots make before getting to 53. In hismost recent roster projection, ESPN Boston's Mike Reiss had Stevan Ridley amongst his projected cuts.
Reiss calls it a "hunch" and bases his prediction in part off the meager 11 snaps Ridley saw in the team's "dress rehearsal" on Friday against the Panthers.
This has been a scenario that I had contemplated earlier in the offseason, and I'm not sure it makes a lot of sense for the team.
The reason? Assuming this is a battle between Ridley and Brandon Bolden, it doesn't make the Patriots better in the short or long term.
Sure, Brandon Bolden has shown the ability to contribute on special teams and on occasion as a pass catcher. But with James White now in the fold, he would be relegated to a very limited role in the backfield. He has generally played two units on special teams - a role that a player such as Jonas Gray could likely fill.
But the main reason I don't think the Patriots will choose to keep Bolden over Ridley (other than, you know, talent level) is because of their contract situations. Both have one year remaining on their deals. According to Spotrac, Ridley is on the books for approximately $940k with $162k in guarantees via signing bonus. Bolden, on the other hand, has a cap hit of $575k and a guarantee of only $5k.
Therefore, if the Patriots keep Bolden over Ridley, they're only shaving about $200k off the cap. Despite Ridley's fumbling issues, he's still the far superior downhill running talent. The $200k difference in negligible, especially considering both players are likely gone after 2014 either way. So if I'm picking one of those two players, I'm taking Ridley every time.
Of course, this is just one blogger's opinion - And none one has any clue what Coach Belichick is actually thinking.