Patriots

Patriots

FOXBORO -- While the Patriots are busy fiddling with their roster to get down to 75 players by Tuesday afternoon, they're not focused solely on which players to release.

Teams across the league are making cuts, meaning that the waiver-wire is cluttered and the free-agent pool is fast filling with names. The Patriots, like all other 31 NFL clubs, will be scouring those lists for potential help. 

A few of the names that ended up becoming available on Monday were very familiar to coach Bill Belichick and his coaching staff.

Former Bills running back Fred Jackson, a dangerous division rival for the last eight seasons, was released on Monday. Buffalo also cut ties with defensive lineman and 2013 Patriots seventh-round pick Michael Buchanan. Another former member of the Patriots who became available on Monday was Colts veteran guard Donald Thomas, who started eight games for the Patriots in the 2011 and 2012 seasons.

One name to keep an eye on during the waiver process is former Patriots receiver Kenbrell Thompkins, who was released by the Raiders on Monday, according to Pro Football Talk. Thompkins caught 32 passes for 466 yards and four touchdowns for the Patriots in 2013 as an undrafted rookie out of Cincinnati. 

Early last season, the Patriots promoted linebacker Ja'Gared Davis to the 53-man roster and released Thompkins to make room. Belichick hoped that Thompkins would clear waivers and sign with the practice squad, but instead Thompkins was picked up by the Raiders and played 12 games for Oakland. 

 

At the time, Belichick admitted it was difficult to expose Thompkins to other clubs.

"It’s always tough to release a player, especially one like KT who works extremely hard and was really a dedicated athlete and certainly had a lot of good moments of performance for us," Belichick said. "We have other players at that position that also work hard that are talented. In the end, in order to get a guy on the roster you have to take a guy off. It just came down to that decision. It’s a hard decision to make, you know.

"We had other ones we had to make relative to the two players that we added yesterday from the reserve list. If we could have more players, we would have them. We’re fortunate that we have a lot of the players that we want to work with on the practice squad. But we know that anytime you expose a player, there’s a chance you could lose them. We were prepared for that. Oakland will be getting a young, hardworking player."

Belichick added: "I think KT has a future in the NFL. But we obviously have a depth issue at linebacker and we’re heavy at receiver so something has to give."

With the Patriots hurting for depth at receiver, and given some of the injuries the team has seen at that position -- Brandon LaFell (on the physically unable to perform list), Brian Tyms (on injured reserve), Julian Edelman (has not participated in a preseason game), Aaron Dobson (did not play in the first two preseason games), Josh Boyce (waived with an injury designation on Monday) and Jonathan Krause (waived/injured on Monday) have all missed time -- might a reunion between the Patriots and Thompkins make sense?

The Patriots recently signed veteran free agent Reggie Wayne to add depth at that spot so perhaps Belichick does not perceive the receiver position as a need. But it's possible that a wideout with some size (6-feet, 200 pounds), an understanding of the team's offense and practice-squad eligibility may provide value as an insurance policy.