This article was originally published on 6/7/2009 at PatriotsExaminer.com.
I hate surprises.
Every offseason, about this time, I take a look at the Patriots’ roster and try to prepare myself for any potential Lawyer Malloy-type surprises come preseason cut-down time.
For those of you who don't remember, Lawyer Malloy was surprisingly cut in the final week of the 2003 preseason. It was so shocking, most Patriots' fans didn't believe the initial reports. Some of us didn't believe the story until we saw him the next Sunday destroying the Patriots in a Bills uniform.
Anyway, I refuse to let myself be surprised again by moves like that—too painful. So I put together this list every offseason to help avoid having that type of thing sneak up on me again.
Many factors weigh into a player getting released or traded, but the most common factors are cap number, performance, and age. If you’re old, you have a high cap number, and if your performance hasn’t lived up to your salary, you may find yourself on the next train up to Buffalo, or down to Miami, or New York—out of New England.
While looking at this season’s list of potential surprises, a few names jumped out at me.
Richard Seymour (cap savings if cut/traded: approximately $3.3 million)
Seymour was once the best defensive lineman on the team. He may be the third best defensive lineman on the 2009 Patriots. Seymour, when healthy, can still dominate. The problem is, he’s not healthy as often as the Patriots would like.
Combine the $3.3 million in cap savings with the injury history and Seymour could be moved before the season starts. He certainly won’t be cut, but a trade isn’t out of the question.
Jarvis Green (cap savings if cut/traded: approximately $2 million)
Jarvis Green is coming off an injury, entering the last year of his contract, and is a backup who’s being paid like a starter. The Patriots may decide dropping Green and re-signing Wilfork or Seymour is a better use of $2 million in cap space.
Stephen Neal (cap savings if cut/traded: approximately $2 million)
Stephen Neal is the reason the Patriots need a thousand backup offensive guards on their roster. The guy is never healthy. When he’s healthy, he’s a decent guard. But he’s not worth the cap hit, especially if he’s not playing. Should the Patriots find a replacement in training camp or preseason, Neal’s roster spot is certainly in jeopardy.
Nick Kaczur (cap savings if cut/traded: approximately $1.8 million)
The problem here is that there’s nobody else on the roster who can play right tackle. The bigger problem here is that Nick Kaczur can barely play right tackle himself. Personally, I’d take the $1.8 million in cap savings and line up the fattest guy I can find at right tackle and tell him to just stand in the way. After all, it takes just as long to run around a stationary fat guy as it does to run around Kaczur.
Tedy Bruschi (cap savings if cut/traded: approximately $1.4 million)
This may be blasphemous, but Bruschi is my most-likely candidate to end up Lawyer Malloy-ed at the end of the preseason. I love Tedy, as does most of New England, but he has some serious issues working against him.
- His performance has drastically declined over the last few years.
- He’s probably the fourth best inside linebacker, from a talent standpoint, on the team (behind Jerod Mayo, Paris Lenon, and Gary Guyton).
- $1.4 million is a lot of cap space for the fourth best guy at a position.
- He doesn’t give you anything on special teams anymore, and the fourth best inside linebacker should be a decent special teams player.
Belichick loves Bruschi, but we know how he works. If the Patriots are a better team with $1.4 million in cap space and no Tedy Bruschi than they are with Tedy Bruschi, then the veteran inside linebacker is as good as gone.
I’m not saying it’ll happen, but based on the information at hand, I’m preparing myself just in case.
For detailed Patriots salary cap information, check out http://www.patscap.com/.
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