Adios, Dimitri: The Jets' decision to release cornerback Dimitri Patterson came as no surprise. Something had to be done, as he had lost the trust of people in the organization and players in the locker room. Here's the part no one is talking about: The Jets were willing to give him a second chance in the aftermath of AWOLGate. They wanted to see how he responded to the suspension. If he had accepted his punishment instead of kicking and screaming, he'd probably still be on the team. But he sealed his fate by dropping his bombshell of a statement, accusing the Jets of lying about the reason for his absence. Basically, he forced his way out. Good riddance.
Survival of the draft picks: Few jobs in America offer as much security as being a John Idzik draft pick. Surprisingly, 10 of the 12 picks remain, including two on injured reserve (wide receiver Shaq Evans and cornerback Dexter McDougle). In upsets, linebackers Jeremiah George, IK Enemkpali and Trevor Reilly survived the final cut, as did wide receiver Quincy Enunwa. This smacks of Idzik trying to protect his drafting record, but it also shows he's trying to develop the bottom of the roster. George, Enemkpali, Reilly and Enunwa will be this year's version of the Idzik Red Shirts (inactive on game day). The downside to this philosophy is that it eliminates useful veteran backups. Linebackers Garrett McIntyre and A.J. Edds lost their jobs because of the youth movement.
Surprise cut: Quarterback Matt Simms. The Jets are taking a calculated risk, hoping no one claims him on waivers. If not, he's likely to return on the practice squad. Under the new rules, Simms is eligible.
What's next: The Jets should send up an "S.O.S." flare regarding their cornerback position. After cutting Johnny Patrick and others, they're down to six corners, only two of whom have significant starting experience -- slot corner Kyle Wilson and Dee Milliner, who might miss the opener because of a high-ankle sprain. The starters on the outside could be Darrin Walls and converted safety Antonio Allen, assuming he recovers from a concussion. The backups are Ellis Lankster and LeQuan Lewis. LeQuan Lewis? Yes, the Jets are desperate. Look for Idzik to import a functional veteran by the end of the weekend. Some folks are clamoring for Champ Bailey because he's a big name, but he's 36 years old and didn't play a snap in the preseason.
Jets' moves: Placed LB Antwan Barnes on the PUP list; Released Hill, Patterson, Simms, Edds, McIntyre, Patrick, WR Clyde Gates, RB Daryl Richardson, RB Alex Green, TE Chris Pantale, DE Zach Thompson, QB Tajh Boyd, DL Tevita Finau, S Rontez Miles, OT Brent Qvale, G Caleb Schlauderaff, DT Kerry Hyder, LB Troy Davis, CB Jeremy Reeves, G Will Campbell and CB Brandon Dixon.
New returner: The Dolphins will have a new kick returner in 2014. Miami released Marcus Thigpen, who had taken over the return duties for the Dolphins the past two seasons. Like Thomas, Thigpen also had nagging injuries in training camp. He muffed a punt Thursday in Miami’s preseason finale, which sealed his fate. The Dolphins will be searching for new options.The most likely candidates include receivers Jarvis Landry and Damian Williams.
Center of attention: Another interesting decision the Dolphins had to make involved Pro Bowl center Mike Pouncey. After weeks of rehabilitation, Miami decided to take Pouncey off the physically unable to perform list (PUP). This means Pouncey can play whenever he’s recovered from major hip surgery. He’s looked strong in rehab and dropped hints to the Miami media that he’d like to play in London in Week 4 against the Oakland Raiders. Keeping Pouncey on the PUP would have prevented him from playing the first six games of the regular season.
What’s next: The Dolphins will work on filling out their 10-player practice squad over the next 24 hours. That should include several players listed in Saturday’s cuts. Miami also could scan the wires to boost depth at a few positions on its 53-man roster. Thin positions of interest include the offensive line, linebacker and tight end.
Team moves: WR Marcus Thigpen, RB Daniel Thomas, CB Kevin Fogg, WR Matt Hazel, QB Seth Lobato, K Jake Rogers, OL David Arkin, OL Evan Finkenberg, TE Evan Wilson, WR Kevin Cone, S Jordan Kovacs, OL Sam Brenner, DE Tevin Mims, DT Isaako Aaitui, OT Tony Hills, TE Kyle Miller, DE D'Aundre Reed, DL Garrison Smith, LB Andrew Wilson, DT Kamal Johnson (IR)
Linebacker depth on radar: Arguably the second-most notable move was second-year linebacker Steve Beauharnais being waived. The Patriots don't have much depth at their off-the-line linebacker spots (evolving depth chart here), but they're probably factoring Dont'a Hightower into that mix, and perhaps even Rob Ninkovich in an emergency. Beauharnais was on the bubble and had value in terms of his knowledge of the defense and ability to lead the huddle and get everyone lined up correctly, so perhaps he returns on the practice squad if he's not claimed.
Three quarterbacks for now: The Patriots kept both Ryan Mallett and Jimmy Garoppolo behind Tom Brady, marking the first time since 2011 that they'll enter the season with three players at the position. The next question: Who's No. 2?
If history is any indication, expect more movement: The Patriots seldom set their 53-man roster and stand pat. With this in mind, it would hardly be surprising if there aren't more moves ahead, with the club claiming a player or two on waivers, or entertaining trade possibilities in certain areas. Like some of the lower-level players on the roster should be, we're still on edge for potential surprises.
A change at snapper: In releasing Danny Aiken, the Patriots don't have another snapper on the roster outside of Rob Ninkovich. The Patriots could always bring in another player at the position, but for now, it looks like Ninkovich's job unless Aiken returns or the team signs someone else.
Patriots cuts: LS Danny Aiken, LB Steve Beauharnais, DE Jake Bequette, WR Josh Boyce, C Braxston Cave, LB Ja'Gared Davis, S Kanorris Davis, RB Roy Finch, WR Jeremy Gallon, S Shamiel Gary, RB Jonas Gray, OL Jon Halapio, TE Steve Maneri, DL Eathyn Manumaleuna, FB Taylor McCuller, LB James Morris (injured reserve), CB Daxton Swanson, DL L.T. Tuipulotu, DL Jerel Worthy.
What's next: Bill Belichick is scheduled to hold a 10 a.m. ET conference call Sunday to answer questions on the roster, and more.
Quick-hit thought: Could be the best depth chart, from top to bottom and with future upside in mind, in Bill Belichick's 15-year tenure.
RUNNING BACK (4)
Quick-hit thought: Bolden brings notable special-teams value, while there could be times we see plenty of Vereen and White on the field together.
Quick-hit thought: Hard-nosed player has earned everything he has coming to him.
TIGHT END (3)
Quick-hit thought: Promising start for Wright in the preseason finale, as he looks like the better complement to Gronkowski in "12 personnel" (e.g. one back, two TEs).
WIDE RECEIVER (5)
Quick-hit thought: Dobson's 50-snap performance Thursday night was a significant step in him being in position to help the team from the start of the regular season. Tyms doesn't count against the 53-man roster limit because of his four-game suspension.
OFFENSIVE LINEMEN (10)
LT Nate Solder
LG Josh Kline
C Ryan Wendell
RG Dan Connolly
RT Sebastian Vollmer
OT/G Marcus Cannon
C Bryan Stork
OT/G Jordan Devey
OT Cameron Fleming
G/LT Chris Barker
Quick-hit thought: Unlike last year, when the Patriots were combing the waiver wire for developmental prospects, they ended up with a surplus in this all-important area.
DEFENSIVE TACKLE (6)
Quick-hit thought: After Wilfork, who remains the rock in the middle, it's a young group with high upside.
DEFENSIVE END/OUTSIDE LINEBACKER (5)
Quick-hit thought: If Jones and Hightower are the top players on the edge, it could reduce Ninkovich's playing time (95 percent of the snaps last year).
INSIDE LINEBACKER (3)
Quick-hit thought: Looks a bit thin here and could be the area where the Patriots look closely at the waiver wire. Darius Fleming could add depth in this spot too.
Quick-hit thought: Belichick previously said that this is as deep of a group as he's had in recent memory. Next question: Who starts opposite Revis?
* Player doesn't count against the 53-man roster because of NFL suspension.
Quick-hit thought: Still a bit of a mystery as to how the safety spot next to McCourty will be handled, as there are a lot of options, including some cornerbacks who have seen time there.
P Ryan Allen
K Stephen Gostkowski
Captain Matthew Slater
Quick-hit thought: No snapper on the roster after the release of Danny Aiken, which would thrust Rob Ninkovich into that role unless the Patriots sign someone else or bring Aiken back. The Aiken release could be part of some initial roster management to preserve assets at other positions (e.g. Mallett, Barker) that the Patriots felt had value if they landed on the open market.
New-look offensive line: The Bills' shuffling on the offensive line resulted in Doug Legursky, an 11-game starter last season, being released. He was in a battle for his roster spot with Kraig Urbik over the last two preseason games. While Urbik was reportedly on the trade block, he'll stick for now. If left guard Chris Williams can't play in the season opener, expect rookie Cyril Richardson to start in his place. That would make Urbik the top interior backup. He edged out Legursky for that spot.
What's next: The Bills will scour the waiver wire as other teams make their moves. The claiming period ends at noon Sunday and it wouldn't be shocking if the Bills tried to upgrade positions. They could use help at tight end, where Scott Chandler (knee) and Lee Smith (toe) missed the preseason finale with injuries. They could also look to replace backup offensive tackle Chris Hairston. The team is also cycling through specialists, having claimed punter/kickoff specialist Jordan Gay and signed punter Colton Schmidt on Saturday. If another one becomes available, they may make a move.
Bills' moves: Released S Deon Broomfield, LB Jimmy Gaines, WR T.J. Graham, WR Caleb Holley, DE Ikponmwosa Igbinosun, DE Bryan Johnson, S Kenny Ladler, C Legursky, G Antoine McClain, QB Tuel, LB Xavius Boyd, DT Landon Cohen, TE Dominique Jones, CB Kamaal McIlwain, CB Sam Miller, P Brian Moorman, QB Jordan Palmer, FB Evan Rodriguez, WR Naaman Roosevelt, C Jared Wheeler. Placed on injured reserve: TE Tony Moeaki, CB Mario Butler, CB Bobby Felder.
Tuel's roster spot was in jeopardy following the signing of Kyle Orton, which the Bills made official Saturday. Orton, 31, will backup EJ Manuel.
For now, the Bills only have Manuel and Orton on their 53-man roster at quarterback.
The Bills began training camp with Manuel, Tuel, Thad Lewis, and Dennis Dixon on their roster at quarterback. They waived Lewis and Dixon earlier this week, while the team also signed and released quarterback Jordan Palmer this week.
Tuel, 23, started one game last season -- a loss to the Kansas City Chiefs -- as an undrafted rookie from Washington State. He played in four games this preseason, completing 64.4 percent of his passes for two touchdowns and two interceptions.
Under the NFL's new rules, Tuel is eligible to return to the practice squad as soon as noon Sunday.
Graham, a third-round pick in 2012, was buried on the Bills' depth chart this summer and had been on the trading block. The Bills did not find any takers, per Caplan:
#Bills had Graham on the trade block actually going back to last season. Tried to include him in other deals, no takers.— Adam Caplan (@caplannfl) August 30, 2014
If Graham clears waivers, the Bills have the option of re-signing him to their practice squad as soon as noon Sunday. Graham is eligible for the practice squad under the NFL's new rules this season, but it's unclear if there would be mutual interest between him and the team.
In two seasons in Buffalo, Graham played in 31 games, making 17 starts. He had 23 catches for 361 yards and two touchdowns last season.
The Bills upgraded their wide receiver position this offseason, trading up for Sammy Watkins and later dealing with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for Mike Williams. That pushed Graham down the depth chart.
Graham is known for his speed, but has shown inconsistent pass-catching ability.
Former Clemson star Tajh Boyd, picked in the sixth round of this year's NFL draft, was among the players cut by the New York Jets. It came as no surprise, as Boyd struggled throughout training camp, losing the No. 3 quarterback job to Matt Simms.
On draft day, Ryan admitted he wanted Boyd on the team. The coach's son, Seth, is a wide receiver at Clemson, allowing Ryan to develop a relationship with Boyd. Ryan spoke effusively of Boyd, praising his intangibles, his mobility and his ability to throw the long ball.
But it quickly became apparent Boyd was overwhelmed by the transition to a pro-style offense after years in Clemson's spread-option.
Boyd played in two preseason games, completing eight of 17 passes for 98 yards, including one touchdown and no interceptions. His passer rating was 84.9. There's always a chance he could be added to the practice squad, assuming he clears waivers.
The Jets also announced the release of running back Alex Green, tight end Chris Pantale and defensive lineman Zach Thompson. Defensive lineman Tevita Finau also was released, according to his agent.
All three veterans were thought to be in good position to make the team, especially Edds, who played well in the preseason. He played inside linebacker and contributed on special teams. His release likely means Nick Bellore's calf injury, sustained in the final preseason game, isn't serious. He also could open the door for fifth-round pick Jeremiah George, who had a non-descript training camp.
Richardson wasn't impressive in the preseason, but many figured he'd land the fourth tailback spot by default. He rushed a team-high 31 times for only 95 yards in the preseason, with a long run of only eight yards. He also caught three passes for 58 yards. His competition, Alex Green, also is likely to be released.
Patrick, whom the Jets acquired on waivers in the offseason, failed to capitalize on a wide-open cornerback position. That the Jets cut a healthy corner, considering the dire situation, shows how little they thought of Patrick.
There are many more cuts coming Saturday.
The 5-foot-11, 205-pound Boyce, whose speed was one of his main assets coming into the NFL, could potentially return to the team's practice squad if he clears waivers.
In addition to Boyce, the Patriots have informed rookie guard Jon Halapio that he is also being waived. That move was expected, although it's a bit of a disappointment for the Patriots after they selected Halapio in the sixth round of the draft (179th overall) out of Florida.
Similar to Boyce, the 6-foot-3, 320-pound Halapio is a possibility for the practice squad if he's not claimed on waivers.
Others reportedly told of their release, per reports include defensive tackle Jerel Worthy, defensive end Jake Bequette, linebacker Steve Beauharnais and safety Shamiel Gary.
NOTE: While players are informed of their release, nothing is official until the team turns in paperwork to the NFL. There is always the outside chance of a late change, or another team seeing news of a player being informed of his release and approaching that team about a trade.
Yet it's the one they haven't yet announced -- agreeing to terms with quarterback Kyle Orton -- that could have the biggest effect.
Here are some thoughts on that move and where the Bills stand entering Saturday's cut-down deadline at 4 p.m. ET:
Spotlight still on Manuel: Unless the Bills change their tune down the road, Orton isn't going to challenge Manuel for the starting job. So while they have one of the NFL's better backup quarterbacks, the Bills' overall quarterback situation still isn't where it needs to be. A few days ago, it was the worst in the NFL. Now it's in the bottom-third. It's hard to place the Bills' quarterback group any higher than that until Manuel proves in the regular season some of his preseason woes were a fluke or the product of a "vanilla" offense.
Punting situation problematic: The Bills cut veteran punter Brian Moorman after he ended the preseason with two sub-par performances. While the team claimed punter/kicker Jordan Gay off waivers, he only punted once in Thursday's game. The Bills didn't feel as though he was "ready" to punt yet and wanted to evaluate him more as a kickoff specialist. Whether that changes in the next eight days is not known. One way or the other, the Bills will need a punter for their opener in Chicago. Expect them to keep an eye on the waiver wire and try some players out. They had a similar situation at kicker around this time last season and struck gold with Dan Carpenter.
Parting with Cohen: Of the Bills' 13 roster moves Friday, the most surprising may have been the release of defensive tackle Landon Cohen. He quickly earned praised after signing early in training camp, proving to be a disruptive player in some of the Bills' preseason games. There are a few important factors to remember with Cohen: (1) He played mostly against lesser competition later in games, (2) He's a seventh-year, journeyman veteran who remained a free agent most of this offseason and should be available if needed during the regular season, and (3) The Bills likely only need two backups at defensive tackle and those roles were filled by Stefan Charles and Corbin Bryant. Cohen was a nice story during the preseason but he wouldn't have seen much, if any, playing time in the regular season.
Urbik on block? The Bills have already placed wide receiver T.J. Graham on the trade block, a source told ESPN NFL Insider Adam Caplan, but he may not be the only player. Guard Kraig Urbik, who started 16 games last season, could also be available, according to a tweet from CBS Sports' Jason La Canfora. The Bills seemingly tried everything they could do to push Urbik out of the starting lineup this preseason, shuffling players in and out of his right guard spot. Eventually the return of Cordy Glenn at left tackle had the trickle-down effect of moving Erik Pears to right guard. That could be the final blow to Urbik.
I'm told the #Patriots had a meeting with the veteran offensive linemen yesterday and told Vollmer about moving to guard, Cannon to tackle— Ben Volin (@BenVolin) August 30, 2014
Considering this possibility brings us back to Thursday's blog post on the balance between a team playing its best five linemen versus picking the best overall combination.
Four-year veteran Marcus Cannon is a starting-caliber lineman, but with Vollmer (right) and Nate Solder (left) locking down the tackle spots, it pushes him out of the top-unit line unless he's at guard.
And from this view, Cannon isn't as effective at guard. He doesn't seem as comfortable at that spot.
Maybe Vollmer would be. And then the Patriots wouldn't lose much, if at all, in the Cannon-for-Vollmer swap at right tackle because Cannon has already proven he's capable of playing there and at a high level.
It's something the Patriots, according to Volin, are at least considering at this point.
A quick look at some of the more intriguing decisions:
The Dimitri Patterson saga: Accusing your bosses of lying is never good for one's job security. Patterson should've handled his matter privately instead of calling out John Idzik and Rex Ryan. Idzik is old school -- he likes to keep family business in-house -- and he has to be fuming. But, unless another serviceable cornerback falls out of the sky, it would be a surprise if they cut him Saturday. Why give him a chance to catch on with another team? Let him stew and suffer the consequences.
The three-quarterback issue: They could use the roster spot elsewhere -- like, cornerback -- but it would be a surprise if third-stringer Matt Simms is released.
The Barnes dilemma: Eleven months removed from knee surgery, linebacker Antwan Barnes (on the physically unable to perform list) still isn't practicing. Ryan said he's impressed by Barnes' progress, but progress doesn't warrant a roster spot. It's all about production, so they have three primary options: Move him to the in-season PUP list (six weeks), place him on short-term injured reserve (eight weeks) or simply carry him on the 53-man roster. Look for the PUP list.
Safety dance: Former practice squad player Rontez Miles was one of the best players on the field in the final preseason game. Word has it he could replace Josh Bush as the fourth safety, behind Dawan Landry, Calvin Pryor and Jaiquawn Jarrett.
Stork's shotgun snaps. This was our first look at rookie center Bryan Stork, and one thing that stood out was his solid delivery of the shotgun snap, which is a staple in the Patriots' offense. We counted 16 of them from Stork and they were mostly (if not all) on the mark. In contrast, first-year center Braxston Cave had one low delivery in the red zone that made things harder on Jimmy Garoppolo on a play that ultimately was an incomplete pass. In terms of his blocking, Stork showed promise (e.g. nice seal on James White's 9-yard run up the middle) while also enduring some standard rookie hiccups, such as losing his feet while getting into his pass set at one point.
Ball skills show up in the secondary. Patriots defensive backs had five pass breakups in the game as Logan Ryan totaled two, followed by Daxton Swanson, Tavon Wilson and Brandon Browner. Ryan and Swanson appeared to be fortunate to avoid pass interference penalties in the end zone, but overall, the coverage in the defensive backfield was competitive and tight. When Swanson is making plays like he did (pass breakup, forced fumble and recovery), and undrafted rookie Malcolm Butler is blanketing receivers, it reflects some quality depth.
Aaron Dobson does the little things, too. While the second-year receiver's preseason debut was productive with a big touchdown catch, he showed up in another area, too. On running back James White's 29-yard catch and run, Dobson effectively rubbed the linebacker assigned to cover White, helping to create some significant separation for White. It might have been a penalty on Dobson, but from this view, it still reflected a receiver doing the little things necessary that are often overlooked.
Head coach Bill Belichick provided some insight on the effectiveness of his offensive line's blocking in Thursday's preseason finale with the New York Giants.
"Overall offensively we had not very many problems in pass protection, a couple, but overall not very many," Belichick said in a conference call on Friday. "We didn't run the ball as well as we would like, or need to.
"That was a combination of things. Sometimes it was multiple people or a combination block or the back and the offensive linemen with the read or whatever it happened to be."
Belichick likes the effort in pass blocking, but still needs to see more consistency from all of his offensive linemen. Second-year guard Josh Kline, who projects to assume the role of Mankins after playing all 70 offensive snaps on Thursday, is one of those players in the spotlight.
"I'd probably say it's about the same thing with all the players that played," Belichick said about Kline. "There were a lot of good things out there and there were some things that at times weren't so good, need to be corrected, need to be improved.
"When you talk about the whole line, you're probably going to have similar comments on all of them: a lack of consistency in the running game, pass blocking [was] not perfect but certainly manageable."
Although Marcus Cannon did not play Thursday, he possesses the versatility that can provide some consistency to the line. Belichick confirmed that Cannon has lined up at every spot except for center.
"He's [Cannon] obviously got great size and strength, and he's very athletic for his size," Belichick said. "He moves well. He has excellent feet, balance. He's a powerful player in the running game ... [with] his length and size."
Most of Cannon's snaps have come at tackle, but Cannon did play guard last year and has seen some action there this year. Belichick is trying to find the right spot for Cannon's skills.
"He [Cannon], I think, physically can play any position on the line," Belichick said. He probably could play center too but definitely could play guard or tackle. It's just a question of refining his skills at one position."