Foxborough, Mass. – Two of the New England Patriots three unsigned draft picks who missed the opening of training camp in contract disputes are expected to sign as soon as today, according to head coach Bill Belichick.
Belichick announced in his daily press conference that the signing of third-round draft choice Guss Scott and Cedric Cobbs, the team's second pick of the fourth round, are imminent. When the players actually report to camp will depend on when the contract process is completed and on travel logistics.
"I would expect those to be done today," said Belichick. "I've been wrong before, but I hope that will be the case. That just leaves one player who is unsigned."
Scott was a two-year starter at safety for the University of Florida who is expected to contribute mainly on special teams this season if he makes the final roster. Cobbs gained 3,027 yards with 26 touchdowns in 46 career games at Arkansas. He would presumably be battling with veteran Michael Cloud for one of the final roster spots at running back. Both players took part in the teams' June mini-camp.
Once the signing of Cobbs and Scott takes place as expected, the Patriots lone absent rookie will be tight end Benjamin Watson. Talks with Watson, the team's second pick of the first round, have reached an impasse this week, according to published reports. Watson has now missed the first two practices of camp and negotiations between the Patriots and his agent – IMG's Tom Condon – have reportedly ceased.
Belichick publicly appears unphased by Watson's absence.
"Well, that is part of the process," said Belichick. "When both sides agree, that is when there will be a contract and that is when they will be here. Until that point, they won't. In the 30 years that I have seen that, it is not going to change. It is what it is."
The Patriots reached their roster limit of 80 players (not including NFL Europe exemptions) today by releasing tight end Matt Cercone. The 28-year-old Cercone was signed as a free agent last week as the team faced opening camp without Watson and veteran Christian Fauria, who was placed on the Physically Unable to Perform List and has yet to practice. Belichick hinted that Cercone was one player who ran but did not pass the team's conditioning test prior to the first training camp practice on Thursday.
One veteran player who has yet to report to camp is guard Wilbert Brown. Belichick said Friday that Brown, who played in two regular season and two postseason games for the Patriots in 2003 after he was claimed off waivers from Washington, has an excused absence from camp for personal reasons.
"As soon as [those issues] are resolved he'll back," said Belichick.