PatsFans forum member PatriotsFanInPa posed an interesting question today: “Based on the draft, which Pats vets are going to be cut, traded, released, not re-signed?” Although 14-2 teams don’t typically need or want to have a lot of changes, NFL teams still usually have about a 15-20% turnover on their rosters from year to year. Who could this season’s casualties be? Here is a look at seventeen Patriot players from 2010 that could potentially not be on the club in September after the latest additions from this week’s NFL Draft.
Fred Taylor: let’s face it, even Fred knew he wasn’t coming back long before the draft.
Sammy Morris: a player I thought had a good chance of coming back because of his contributions on special teams and as a quasi-fullback. With the selection of second running back in the draft (Steven Ridley), there is very little incentive for Morris to return even if the Pats did offer him a contract. If he wants to continue playing in the NFL it will have to be with another team.
Kevin Faulk: the emergence of Danny Woodhead as a productive third-down, change-of-pace running back last year appears to have left Faulk on the outside looking in. Now you add in the fact that Pats drafted two running backs, and my guess is that he retires before the start of the season. The only question is whether he does it before or after the start of training camp.
Alge Crumpler: Bill Belichick was extremely complimentary of Crumpler in regards to his leadership and what he meant to the team. The Pats drafted Lee Smith in the 5th round to replace him, whether it be this year or next. Crumpler will turn 34 this season and is rehabbing from shoulder surgery. It will be tough to increase the number of roster spots allocated to both the tight end and quarterback positions, though there may be a way to do that: the Pats could go with four running backs rather than five, and if Smith is able to handle long snapper duties as well then the changes in roster slots dedicated to those positions equals out. I’ll say 75% chance Crumpler stays.
Matt Light: Light is a free agent and has been very positive about his ability to work out a new deal with the Pats once both sides saw what the new CBA would bring, specifically in terms of a new salary cap. The Pats drafting of Nate Solder with their very first pick changes those dynamics quite a bit. Light is surely looking for a contract that will likely keep him employed for three or more years, but the addition of a #17 pick at the same position means the Pats probably are looking to keep him on the roster for no more than a year unless he agrees to a substantial pay cut; he made $4.5 million last year and is probably looking for about a 3-year contract with a similar salary now. My guess is that there is somebody out there that will offer him a far better deal than what the Pats will due to the two team’s respective situations. I’ll say 25% chance of a return.
Logan Mankins: Personally I do not believe the new CBA will eliminate the franchise tag. It’s not that big of a sticking point for the players, but it is for the owners. I think he’ll hold out until the end of training camp and report just before the first game.
Nick Kaczur: He was as good as gone a very long time ago. Kaczur is due to make $3.4 million this year and teams just don’t pay that kind of money to players seen they project to be backups. Kaczur has already said that he will not agree to a pay cut; he has little value to the Pats but he does to other NFL teams. To this day I do not understand the reasoning to keep him on the roster when final camp cuts were made last year, knowing he was just weeks removed from back surgery; the idea he would be able to come back and perform had to have been based more on wishful thinking than on reality. Perhaps the Pats were overly concerned with Connolly being able to hold his own at RG at the time, but the end result was that they cut and lost Ted Larsen as a result of their decision to keep Kaczur, who didn’t play a single down with the Pats last year – and will not this year either. Chances of returning: 5%, based strictly on the possibility of an injury to another lineman.
Dan Koppen: The $2.9 million salary may seem a little hefty, but with the only alternatives at this time being Dan Connolly or Ryan Wendell, Koppen’s job is safe. His contract expires after this season; I would not be surprised if this season is his last.
BenJarvus Green-Ellis: A lot depends on what happens with the CBA and what rules are in place for this year. As of right now BJGE is due to make $1.835 million, but the real question will be whether he ends up being whether or not his status changes to becoming an unrestricted free agent. With the addition of the two new running backs and his coming off a 13-touchdown season, he is surely eager to see what other teams may be willing to offer once he gets the opportunity.
Gerard Warren: At first glance it looked like he would not be coming back when the Pats signed Marcus Stroud, in large part because the prevailing opinion was that the Pats would add one (if not two) defensive ends in the draft. However, keep in mind that the Pats brought both he and Damione Lewis into training camp last year, and for what it’s worth Bill Belichick was very complimentary of Warren after the season ended.
Ty Warren: The Boston Herald’s Ian Rapoport has been beating the drum for the past month that Warren is on the bubble to return this year, but based on how the draft unfolded I would say that is about as likely as his multiple statements that the Pats would surely draft Mark Ingram if he was available to the Pats in the first round. Despite the fact that he is coming off the loss of an entire season due to surgery and is due to collect a base salary of $3.1 million, I’d put Warren’s chance of returning at about 90%.
Tully Banta-Cain: TBC’s $2.3 million base salary and a relatively mediocre 2010 season made him a possibility of not returning this year, but because of the way the draft unfolded it looks like he’ll be a Patriot for at least one more year – even if the Pats do add another OLB in free agency.
Jonathan Wilhite: The corner was already considered to be a potential cut due to his salary; because he hit incentives his base salary increases from $550k to $1.2 million. Though that is a manageable amount, it’s still a lot considering his playing time. I doubt they give up on Butler yet plus there is the addition of Dowling, making Wilhite about a 75% chance of being either cut or traded.
Leigh Bodden: A $3.9 million salary makes him a consideration, but I think Belichick would really like to see what the defense looks like with Bodden and McCourty as his starting corners. Whether or not he makes it to the end of his contract (2013) is another question, but the Pats aren’t going to cut him.
James Sanders: Sanders plays a big role in calling out formations in the defensive secondary, but beyond that is he worth his $2.8 million base? Sanders is in the final year of his contract; perhaps the Pats may extend him with a deal that reduces the average annual salary.
Brandon Meriweather: The player fans and the media love to loathe is another safety in the final year of his contract, but has a much more team-friendly salary of $1.65 million. While he may not be re-signed, I’m confident he’ll be with the Pats this season.
Jarrad Page: Yet another safety in his contract year with the Pats. With a $1.96 million base salary, I would not be surprised at all to see Page let go. The Chiefs traded him in part due to contract negotiations breaking down, so I doubt he’s going to be receptive to the idea of lowering his contract and not being able to become a free agent.
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