In a statement released on Aug. 25, the Patriots gave holdout Deion Branch until 4 p.m. today to negotiate with other teams. The Patriots released a statement at that time saying:
"No trade has been consummated. Deion Branch remains under contract to the New England Patriots."
In a phone conference with the media today, which took place immediately after the deadline passed, Coach Bill Belichick refused to make any additional comments on Branch.
In an unrelated press release, the Patriots announced one trade and 10 cuts. Running back Patrick Cobbs was traded to the Steelers for an undisclosed draft pick. The undrafted rookie led the team in carries (38) and rushing yards (188) during the preseason. He was also third on the team in receiving yards, with 115 in seven catches. At 5-9, 210 pounds Cobbs was an undersized standout at North Texas.
With Cobbs headed to Pittsburgh andPatrick Pass still on the PUP list, it appears Heath Evans may have landed the fourth running back spot behind Kevin Faulk.
The 10 players released from the team today include: Monty Beisel, Eddie Berlin, Corey Bramlet, Chad Brown, Vernell Brown, Eddie Freeman, Chris Luzar, Jeremy Mincey, John StoneandEric Warfield.
Beisel was in competition for the inside spot, but has struggled at times in the Patriots defense. Despite a solid effort in the Giants game, where he recorded four tackles and an assist, players like Pierre Woods and Corey Mays outlasted him in this season's roster competitions.
Asked about Beisel in the conference call, Belichick responded, "We just, in the end, have to do what we think's best for the team and there are other people that we felt just had more value to the football team. There's a lot of people that we would like to have kept. Unfortunately, we have to get down to a limit and so that's what we're going to have to do. It was tough with all those guys today. They've all worked hard. They've been productive. They've done what we asked them to do, and for one reason or another, we just had to release them to keep somebody else."
Jeremy Mincey, another linebacker released today, came from Florida where he played defensive end. Asked if Mincey simply had too much trouble with the transition to linebacker, Belichick responded, "Jeremy [Mincey] worked hard. He's a tough kid. It's a different system for him. We just had positive players that we think are ahead of him. But I certainly have no complaints or issues at all with his effort – his toughness. He's doing everything we asked him to do. It just didn't work out. There are other guys that are ahead of him right now."
Some believed that Beisel and Mincey's chances to make the team increased after Barry Gardner left the Giants game in the third quarter with an injured left leg. Although the specifics of the injury have not been released, the television replay was reminiscent of Rodney Harrison's injury last year.
"Barry Gardner will go on IR," said Belichick today. "He hurt his leg last night, and he'll be out for the year."
Veteran Chad Brown was looking all right in the system until injuring his hand. His release should come as no surprise considering he hasn't been able to play or practice for some time now.
Receivers Rich Musinski andKeron Henry were released when the team was cut to 75 players on Tuesday. WithEddie Berlin and John Stone released today, it seems that wideouts Bam Childress and Kelvin Kight are the final two in competition for roster spots behind Troy Brown, Reche Caldwell and second-round pick Chad Jackson, who has yet to play in a game. Return specialist Willie Andrews will likely make the team. His versatility at wideout and free safety help him as well.
Until last night, former Wyoming quarterbackCorey Bramlet hadn't thrown a pass in any of the preseason games. He played a few downs against the Giants, but Troy Brown also came in to get reps at quarterback. As of now, it looks like the Patriots will only carry two quarterbacks on the 53-man roster – Tom Brady and his backup Matt Cassel.
The defensive secondary is benefiting from Rodney Harrison's recovery and subsequent return as a motivator for the defense. Wilson, Hobbs and Samuel round out the starters, and with Eric Warfield and Vernell Brown both on their way out, Chad Scott, Gus Scott and Antwain Spann remain in the battle for backup spots on the roster. The severity of Tebucky Jones' hamstring injury (suffered against the Redskins) is unclear and if the Patriots don't carry him, his spot may open up for another DB. If released, his loss will be felt most in the special teams department.
Tight end Chris Luzar and defensive lineman Eddie Freeman had only been here a short time, and were basically non-factors.
The team will need a bit more trimming by 6 p.m. tomorrow when the league requires each team have a maximum of 53 players on the roster.