FOXBOROUGH, Mass. - The New England Patriots were busy on two fronts Wednesday, making two additions to a purged coaching staff while at the same time announcing the release of four players.
The Patriots added two coaches to Bill Belichick's staff today, appointing Joel Collier to the position of assistant secondary coach while naming Harold Nash the team's assistant strength and conditioning coach. The additions to the coaching staff come after four members of the staff had accepted positions elsewhere since the end of the playoffs. The Patriots lost both coordinators, as offensive coordinator Charlie Weis left to become the head coach at the University of Notre Dame and defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel was named the head coach of the Cleveland Browns. Tight ends/assistant offensive line coach Jeff Davidson joined Crennel's staff in Cleveland as the offensive line coach, while assistant strength and conditioning coach Markus Paul left to become the Director of Physical Development with the New York Jets.
Collier joins the Patriots staff after spending the last 11 seasons with the Miami Dolphins. While the team announced his title as "assistant" secondary coach, it has not announced who will handle the role or responsibilities of defensive backs coach, which was previously held by new defensive coordinator Eric Mangini. Collier, who held the titles of defensive assistant (1994-97) and running backs coach (1997-2004) with the Dolphins, re-joins the New England organization he was a member of from 1991-93.
Nash, who recently completed an 11-year career as a defensive back in the Canadian Football League, replaces Paul on the Patriots staff. Paul, who officially left the organization on Tuesday, had been with the Patriots for five seasons.
Even with the coaching additions, it doesn't appear the Patriots coaching staff is set heading into the 2005 season. The team has yet to announce a new offensive coordinator, or who would take over those responsibilities if the vacancy is not filled. The team has also not announced who will fill the coaching role of Davidson. With the departure of Crennel to Cleveland and the promotion of Mangini to defensive coordinator, the defensive staff is also one coach short of the number it operated at last season.
The Patriots also announced the release of four players: cornerback Earthwind Moreland, defensive lineman Buck Rasmussen, offensive guard Wilbert Brown and tight end Zeron Flemister.
The most notable of the releases is Moreland, who was signed from the practice squad to the active roster in November and played in nine games this season. Forced into action after injuries to starting cornerbacks Ty Law and Tyrone Poole, the 27-year-old Moreland made two starts - against Buffalo and Kansas City - finishing the season with 13 total tackles.
Rasmussen, who spent the last two training camps with the Patriots, was a member of the practice squad the entire 2004 season. Brown, 27, was claimed off waivers during the 2003 season from the Washington Redskins but did not report to training camp this season and was placed on the reserve/did not report list. Flemister was signed as an unrestricted free agent in late July after four seasons with the Washington Redskins but spent the entire regular season on injured reserve.
Meanwhile, the official fiscal year for NFL teams begins on March 1. The 2005 salary cap goes into effect next Tuesday, at which point the Patriots must be under the league's $85.5 million salary cap.