According to a report from ESPN, the Patriots have cut veteran defensive linemen Tommy Kelly and Will Smith, as well as veteran linebacker James Anderson.
The three moves come in advance of the NFL mandatory cut down to 75 players for all teams by Tuesday afternoon. With these three reported moves, the Patriots would have 84 players on the roster at this point in the process.
Kelly is the most surprising of the moves. The big veteran had been playing left defensive end next to Vince Wilfork in the 3-4 this summer as he returned from a torn ACL that cost him the bulk of his first season in New England last fall. He restructured his contract to take a pay cut this spring, but his work on the practice field and in the preseason saw him take the bulk of the reps with the top unit.
Anderson joined New England as a free agent this offseason after a 100-tackle season with the Bears. The undersized veteran is more of a coverage linebacker, something he displayed pretty impressively on the practice field this summer. He missed time to injury, but had returned to health and preseason game action. He was the most experienced of New England's potential backup linebackers.
Smith also joined the Patriots as a free agent this offseason. The former Saints star was returning from a torn ACL that had cost him the entire 2013 season. The veteran had seen minimal practice and preseason game reps this summer, mostly as a pass rusher in sub packages.
The Kelly and Smith moves could be a good sign for such young defensive linemen as Joe Vellano, Chris Jones and Sealver Siliga. The departure of Anderson could open the door for another young linebacker in the 53-man mix, with Darius Fleming the most likely candidate.
What do you think of these moves? Are you surprised? Let us know with a comment below!