By 6 p.m. EST today, all NFL clubs must have their rosters trimmed to 53 players. By tomorrow, they can assemble their eight-man practice squads.
On Friday, the Patriots announced the release of 10 player and need to do so with 12 other by tonight to get to 53. They've already begun that process, according to multiple media reports.
The two biggest roster stories surround tight end Rob Gronkowski and quarterback Tim Tebow. With the cutting of two veteran tight ends on Friday (Daniel Fells and Jake Ballard), it seems likely that the Patriots will remove Gronk from the PUP list. That's precisely what was reported earlier today by several media members citing sources.
Also, it appears the team has seen enough of Tim Tebow. Reports indicate New England will release him by day's end. It's not entirely surprising, given Bill Belichick's history of carrying just two quarterbacks on the active roster, but it was believed that Tebow's athleticism might offer the Patriots more than just a third-string passer. That makes this move questionable, at least to some (like myself).
Another mildly surprising move that's been reported involves the punting situation. There'd been a neck-and-neck competition all summer between veteran incumbent Zoltan Mesko and rookie Ryan Allen. It appeared that Mesko, who also held placekicks for kicker Stephen Gostkowski, had edged ahead of Allen, but media reports suggest that Mesko has been released, and the player himself indicated as much via his Twitter account a short time ago.
Further reports say yet another second-round Patriots draft choice has flamed out. Defensive end Jermaine Cunningham has been injured and inactive throughout most of the summer, and his career heretofore has been less than impressive overall. It's little surprise, therefore, that the team finally decided to part ways with him.
The reported release of another defensive end, second-year man Justin Francis, seems to be good news for the fortunes of Jake Bequette, a 2012 third-round draft pick, and 2013 seventh-rounder Michael Buchanan, both of whom played the entire preseason finale against New York and looked impressive.
Several other marginal players are said to have been axed, including defensive tackle Marcus Forston, which is somewhat surprising given New England's lack of depth at the position. It's important to remember, though, at this point (around midday Saturday) that the club has yet to announce any of these moves officially.
One other Gronk-related note: with the tight end roster now seemingly down to just three players (Gronkowski, veteran Michael Hoomanawanui, and undrafted rookie Zach Sudfeld), a report has surfaced that New England asked "Hooman" to take a pay cut by restructuring his contract. He had been scheduled to earn around $1.3 million this season, but has agreed to re-do his deal.