Patriots

Patriots release former second-round pick Butler

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Patriots release former second-round pick Butler

By Phil Perry and Jimmy Toscano
CSNNE.com

Darius Butler is no longer a member of the Patriots.

On Tuesday afternoon the third-year corner back tweeted: "Its been real New England. I was blessed to have a chance to play and start my NFL career here. But its time to open a new chapter. Thx patsnation"

Hours later, Joe Person of the Charlotte Observer reported that the cornerback was claimed off waivers by the Carolina Panthers.

After a productive rookie season in 2009, the second-round pick out of UConn has been a disappointment. In his first year, he made 35 tackles and recorded 3 interceptions. He also defended eight passes.

Last season, he had a chance to step up and have a big role in the Patriots secondary with cornerback Leigh Bodden out for the season but he didn't capitalize on the opportunity. Kyle Arrington, primarily used as a special-teamer at the time, overtook Butler on the depth chart, and Butler was relegated to a bench role.

Coming off the bench, his production went down in every category in 2010 as he finished with just 23 tackles and zero interceptions, and as he told Mike Reiss of ESPNBoston.com, things weren't working out.

It kind of went downhill from there, Butler acknowledged. I never faced that kind of adversity when it came to sports, being benched. I just was not playing up to the level I expected to, and the level the team expected. Not seeing the field as much as last year, that was tough.

The Patriots drafted cornerback Ras-I Dowling in the second round this year, and Bodden is back from last season's shoulder injury. When healthy, Bodden looks like he will be a starter at cornerback opposite Devin McCourty. The Patriots also have cornerbacks Arrington and Antwaun Molden on the roster.

That gave the Patriots options heading into the season.

I didnt know how it would work out, a trade or release," he told ESPNBoston.com. "Im not really surprised by it. Things werent working out with me and the team. Its not really a shocker. You can kind of see the writing on the wall sometimes. It was best for both parties.

If you think this move somehow negates Tom E. Curran's stance that Bill Belichick still knows how to recognize talent, keep in mind: The Patriots also drafted Patrick Chung, Sebastian Vollmer, Myron Pryor, Ron Brace and Julian Edelman in the 2009 draft. Though Chung and Vollmer are the only two surefire starters from that group, all are still with the team.

Butler is the sixth former Patriot claimed off waivers by at least one team since Saturday.

Patriots cut ties with Cassius Marsh, sign Eric Lee to help front-seven

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Patriots cut ties with Cassius Marsh, sign Eric Lee to help front-seven

Cassius Marsh was brought to New England to help a depleted defensive end group and play in the kicking game. The Patriots wanted him badly enough that they parted with two draft picks -- a fifth and a seventh -- to acquire him in a trade with the Seahawks just before the start of the season. 

Less than three months later, they've decided to part ways with the 6-foot-4, 245-pounder. 

Marsh played in nine games for the Patriots this season, providing the team with an edge defender and someone with special-teams experience. He blocked a kick in Week 7 against the Falcons that earned him an enthusiastic attaboy from coach Bill Belichick. 

Coming off the edge, Marsh recorded one sack and 13 hurries. Against the run, he was used more sparingly, and he was one of the Patriots on the scene for Marshawn Lynch's 25-yard run in the second quarter on Sunday. He played in just two snaps in Mexico City after missing the previous week's game in Denver due to a shoulder injury. 

Without Marsh the Patriots remain thin at defensive end. In order to help bolster that spot, the corresponding move the Patriots made to fill the open spot on their 53-man roster was to sign defensive lineman Eric Lee off of the Bills practice squad. 

Lee entered the league with the Texans last season as an undrafted rookie out of South Florida. Listed at 6-foot-3, 260 pounds, Lee has bounced on and off of the Bills practice squad this season since being released by the Texans before this season.

The Patriots got a good look at Lee during joint practices last summer with the Texans at The Greenbrier in West Virginia. In the preseason game with the Texans that week, Lee played 40 snaps and according to Pro Football Focus he had two quarterback hurries. The Patriots have a history of snagging players they've practiced against, and with Lee, that trend continues

Belichick takes some heat for 'earthquake' comment

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Belichick takes some heat for 'earthquake' comment

Bill Belichick sounded less than enthused about traveling to Mexico to play a game. And his line about being "fortunate there was no volcano eruptions, earthquakes or anything else while we were down there," didn't exactly sit well with some folks south of the border.

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“Personally, I wouldn’t be in any big rush to do it again,” Belichick said on his weekly appearance on WEEI's "Dale and Holley with Keefe" show Monday. “Players did a great job dealing with all the challenges that we had to deal with. I think we’re fortunate there was no volcano eruptions, earthquakes or anything else while we were down there. I mean you have two NFL franchises in an area that I don’t know how stable the geological plates that were below us [were], but nothing happened so that was good.”

Pancho Vera of ESPN Mexico took exception to Belichick's comment on Twitter, which, translated, called out the "ignorance of the genius of the NFL." More than 200 people were killed after a quake centered near Mexico City struck in September. 

Other Twitter users said, using Belichick's reasoning, they wondered if they'd be fortunate not to be killed or wounded in a mass shooting if they were to travel to the US:

Translated, the tweets read "I also have luck in Las Vegas I was not in a shooting" and "But you are right, I apply the same when I go to the U.S. and say I was fortunate I was not in some crazy shootout."