The Patriots plan to release veteran safety James Sanders, according to his agent, Gary Uberstine. ESPN's Adam Schefter reports the team plans to cut ties with the seventh-year safety after he returned to the starting lineup Saturday night in Detroit.
Also, multiple media outlets have indicated wide receiver Tyree Barnes, running back Eric Kettani, defensive lineman Clay Nurse and wide receiver Darnell Jenkins all will be let go. With power outages continuing to affect Gillette Stadium there is no official word yet coming from the team on any of these potential transactions.
Sanders was scheduled to earn $2.8 million in base salary this season and perhaps that was too rich for the Patriots blood at this stage of his career. The team has been auditioning safeties all summer long but other than special teams maven James Ihedigbo it hasn't signed any potential solutions. Sanders' release would leave just Patrick Chung, Brandon Meriweather and Sergio Brown as true option on the back end of the secondary. Josh Barrett, who is know for his strong kickoff coverage but has yet to show he can stay healthy, also is in the mix. Earlier in training camp he was used as a hybrid linebacker/safety type in subpackages and it's possible the coaches like his versatility.
Perhaps rookie Ras-I Dowling, who's been limited to a handful of practices at this point, is a candidate to add depth at safety in the future.
Regardless, the team would lose plenty without Sanders, who's steadying presence often has solidified the secondary over the year. While he's not a flashy playmaker, Sanders generally is in the right position and is a sure tackler. His leadership has often been cited by Bill Belichick over the years, with coach even going as far as to say he'd like to field a team full of James Sanders at one point.
Now it appears he'll do so without any.