COMMENTARY | Like other NFL teams, the New England Patriots are currently in full-blown cut mode in order to get their roster pared down to the requisite 53 players by their regular-season opener on September 8.
However, in the midst of all the reduction, they might be able to take advantage of other teams' similar roster crunches and find some useful players from the waiver wire who could help them this season.
The Patriots started releasing players in bunches to help reach league-mandated roster-limit deadlines.
Most recently, the team was trimmed to 75 players. While they must continue to carefully monitor their own players to decide who to keep, here are some newly minted free agents worth considering:
Offensive Guard Stephen Peterman: After spending the past seven seasons starting for the Detroit Lions, the 323-pounder signed with the New York Jets. However, he was surpassed on their depth chart by two younger players this preseason, which made him expendable and ultimately led to his release.
With linemen Dan Connolly and Marcus Cannon banged up, the New England offensive line could use a little more depth. Peterman's size and experience would make him an attractive option if the team wanted to consider working him out.
Defensive End Lawrence Jackson: A 2008 first-round draft choice out of USC, Jackson never has reached his full potential; first with the Seattle Seahawks and then the Detroit Lions. Most recently, he was cut by the Minnesota Vikings.
Jackson began his career as a starter in Seattle, but spent the past three seasons coming off the bench with Detroit. He is a pass rusher and not much help defending the run, having accumulated 19.5 sacks and 141 tackles in his five-year career. But with the Patriots' pass-rush being a bit thin after the likes of Chandler Jones and Rob Ninkovich, the 27-year-old Jackson is still young enough to be worth taking a flier on because of his ability to get to the quarterback.
Linebacker Jamar Chaney: New Philadelphia Eagles head coach Chip Kelly has made a lot of changes in his first preseason with the team. One of those was letting go of Chaney, who had been a significant contributor for the team over the past several seasons.
A 2010 seventh-round pick out of Mississippi State, Chaney became a starter by his second season. The 242-pounder combined for 158 tackles and three interceptions in his first three seasons. He is best-suited for a 4-3 defense, which is used, though not exclusively, by New England.
The team is solid with starters Jerod Mayo, Brandon Spikes and Dont'a Hightower. However, the team might appreciate a little more depth off the bench, where rookie Jamie Collins and veteran Dane Fletcher, who is returning from injury, appear to be the top backups.
The Clemson product is entering his sixth season, having previously played with the Kansas City Chiefs (2008-2011) and St. Louis Rams (2012). He has 49 career starts, including every regular-season game during the past three years.
Although Richardson doesn't offer the kind of positional flexibility typically coveted by New England, his experience makes him an intriguing option. He doesn't offer big upside, but his track record of starting and his anticipated cheap price tag are desirable traits for any team looking for depth.
Offensive Lineman Lance Louis: Perhaps the most versatile lineman among this week's cuts, the fourth-year man was released by the Miami Dolphins after having signed a $1.6 million free-agent contract with them during the offseason.
Louis spent his first three seasons with the Chicago Bears, with a total of 28 starts, playing both tackle and guard.
While he is coming off knee surgery, he has been healthy enough to be on the field this preseason. If the Patriots believe his knee is sound, he's the kind of player who could alleviate any current concerns about the depth of the New England line.
Conclusion: Needing to jettison 22 more players to reach their final roster, the Patriots already have a tough task ahead of them. They must identify who will be able to best help the team during the upcoming season. While the majority of those players are already with New England, there are some tantalizing options on the market who could become part of the equation.In addition to the Yahoo! Contributor Network, Andrew Martin has written for Bleacher Report and a number of print publications and websites on the topics of history and sports. He also produces his own blog and has appeared on various sports talk shows and podcasts.
You can follow Andrew on Twitter @historianandrew.
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