In an attempt to free salary cap room the New England Patriots have released tight end Ben Coates and Patriots.com has learned that other big name cuts could be imminent. The Patriots are not the only team faced with tough decisions. Organizations such as Miami, Minnesota and San Francisco have been forced to make the decision to part ways with high profiled players before this afternoon's Free Agency deadline.
"As I have said before, we are faced with some very touch decisions and unfortunately this is one of them," said Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick in a written statement. "It is a shame that in this era of salary cap constraints and value considerations, players of Ben Coates' stature often finish their careers in places other than where they established themselves. But, however painful the process, blending in younger and less expensive players sometimes has to be done. Obviously, I respect how much Ben has given to this organization over the last decade and I am sure he will remain one of the more revered players in history."
Over his nine years with New England, Coates is the Patriots second all-time leading receiver with 490 receptions and 50 touchdowns. He is currently ranked third in career receiving yards with 5,471 yards. Coates has been to five Pro Bowls (1994-98).
However, within the last year Coates' role and production within the Patriots offense has diminished. In 1999, Coates only caught 32 catches and scored just two touchdowns. Over his career, Coates averages around 54 receptions and 5 touchdowns a season.
This will be a busy day here at Patriots.com. A Noon press conference will be held to announce the resigning of safety Lawyer Milloy. Be sure to keep checking Patriots.com for the breaking news and get the final word tonight on Patriots Cyber Sideline.