In a somewhat surprising move, the New England Patriots decided to release defensive edge Cassius Marsh yesterday. Thus, the 25-year old’s tenure with the team ends not even three months after New England acquired him via trade from the Seattle Seahawks. Marsh had his moments but his overall inconsistencies were apparently no longer tolerated by the Patriots.
Let’s take a closer look to find out what the move means for them.
The defensive edge gets even lighter
Even before Marsh's release, defensive edge was one of the thinnest positions on the Patriots' roster. And while recently signed Eric Lee adds another body to the rotation, the group as a whole appears to be even less deep now – after all, Lee only has minimal in-game experience. Consequently, players like Kyle Van Noy and Trevor Reilly will likely see increased snaps on the edge to lighten the workload of de facto starters Trey Flowers and Deatrich Wise Jr..
Trading for Marsh did not work out as planned
In early September, the Patriots sent two draft picks – a 2018 fifth round pick and a 2018 seventh round selection – to the Seahawks to get Marsh. The trade at the time was seen to be a good one for both teams: Seattle received draft capital, while New England received a high-upside player to help on defense and special teams. However, Marsh never lived up to his potential and his inconsistent fundamentals ultimately doomed him. Safe to say that the trade did not work out for New England.
Defensive edge becomes an offseason priority
New England hit the jackpot with Trey Flowers; rookie Deatrich Wise Jr. looks like a steal so far. Beyond the duo, however, the Patriots have more questions than answers: Kyle Van Noy and currently injured Dont'a Hightower and Shea McClellin are no pure defensive linemen, while third round rookie Derek Rivers will be coming off a torn ACL next season. It would therefore not be a surprise to see the team target the defensive edge position again next offseason to bolster a unit that relies heavily on its two starters.
The Patriots gain minimal salary cap space
According to the number one source on all things Patriots salary cap – patscap.com –, releasing Cassius Marsh and replacing him with Eric Lee results in a small increase of salary cap space: The Patriots gain $79,412 by replacing Marsh's $690,000 salary with Lee's $465,000. Therefore, New England now has roughly $3.79 million left in salary cap space – most of it will likely be rolled over to next season.