FOXBORO -- Bill Belichick seemed at ease during Tuesday's press conference.
It might've been because he found his whistle waiting for him at the podium when he got there. He looked down, smiled, looked up and addressed the crowd of reporters seated in front of him.
"Been looking for this whistle," he said happily.
Relaxed as he seemed, there's still plenty of work to hammer out between now and the regular season. The Patriots will take on the Giants in their fourth and final preseason game of the summer on Thursday. Then come cuts. Then the train is moving on the regular season.
Somewhere in there, the Patriots may have to find some help in the form of a player not currently on their roster. Maybe it's a receiver, where they could use a capable body for the first four weeks with Julian Edelman out. Maybe it's somewhere else.
But you can guarantee, the Patriots are scouring the league for that player (or players), wherever he (or they) may be. Belichick said there are probably 30-35 players every year who end up being claimed off of waivers following cuts.
"But it changes from year to year," he said. "Obviously it's specific to certain players and certain teams. I think we can look at a lot of rosters, our roster, other rosters we've studied, and say, 'If this person makes the roster and this other player released to the league, there's gonna be a lot of action on that player.'
"I think we can identify a number of those players. But it's specific to those players. I think there's a lot of other players you could put in the other category who are going to be available and there probably won't be a lot of activity on those players. Maybe on the practice-squad level but the roster level, not as many."
The Patriots have certainly been on the losing end of player cuts in years past. At corner, for instance, they've released a handful of players who've caught on other places and carved out roles for themselves on the active roster. Kenny Moore in Indy, Cre'Von LeBlanc in Chicago and Darryl Roberts with the Jets would all qualify.
Belichick and his staff certainly have an idea of which of their players might see "a lot of action" if they were released. But they also have thoughts on players they've seen preseason tape on around the league who may be impressive enough to land on a 53-man roster somewhere -- even if it's not with their current team.
That's the job of pro scouting director Dave Ziegler and his team.
"Absolutely. Yeah," Belichick said. "What do you think we've been doing? Sure. We look at all 31 teams. What do you think we're doing. We're in camp. We're not having watermelon rolls and badminton contests and all that. Yeah. We're working on football. We're looking at our team, we're looking at all 31 teams. Yeah."
Trades are a possibility as well. Last year, late in the summer, the Patriots picked up Marquis Flowers and Phillip Dorsett via trade. There could be more deals this year, Belichick conceded, though at this point it's hard to gauge since there's always a lot of chatter and not always a lot of trades stemming from that chatter.
"We've already seen a couple of transactions in the last few days," Belichick said. "There's a lot of talking. We'll see how much actually gets done. You can talk about things. That's fairly common. To actually find something that works for one team, that works for the other team, that both teams want to do, that is less common. But I'm sure it's going to happen."
Part of the reason teams may be reluctant to deal is they may not be 100 percent sure they need to give up anything to get the player. If a player might get released and all it would require to get him is a waiver claim . . . why not wait?
"At this point in time it's a little bit of making an educated guess as to who's going to be available and who isn't," Belichick continued. "If you feel like you have to trade a player to get the player, you're more likely to make a trade. If you think you can get a player without trading for him or if you have two or three players where if you had any one of those you'd feel like that would help your team, doesn't have to necessarily be one particular one, then you're not as anxious to trade and you see what's available . . .
"It's all very specific. Your team. Your needs. The player. What the compensation is. The contract. There's a lot of things and that has to fall in place on the other direction too. The other team getting another player of comparable value. Draft pick. Salary. So on and so forth. There's a lot more talking than there is trading."