BOSTON (CBS) – The New England Patriots have to make 12 cuts or other roster moves to make by Saturday evening, and began that process early Saturday morning.
12:28 p.m.: The Patriots have reportedly made five more cuts, with defensive end Justin Francis the biggest surprise of the bunch.
Francis has been released along with linebacker Ja’Gared Davis and safety Kanorris Davis, according to ESPNBoston.com’s Field Yates. The Boston Globe’s Shalise Manza-Young is also reporting the team has cut ties with offensive lineman Josh Kline and defensive back Justin Green, but would like to get both onto the practice squad.
In Francis, the Patriots cut ties with a promising rookie from last season. The Rutgers product finished his rookie campaign with three sacks and seven other QB hits.
With those moves the Patriots find themselves with 54 players on the roster, and will have to make one more move before 6 p.m..
11:27 a.m.: The Boston Herald’s Jeff Howe is reporting the Patriots have released receiver Quentin Sims.
The undrafted rookie scored two touchdowns in the preseason finale, and is a candidate for the Patriots practice squad.
The Pats roster is now at 59 players.
11:09 a.m.: In a surprise cut, the Patriots have released punter Zoltan Mesko.
Mesko’s released means rookie Ryan Allen will take over New England’s punting duties.
Mesko, who the Patriots drafted in the fifth round of the 2010 NFL Draft, released the following statement on his facebook page:
First and foremost, I want to thank the New England Patriots for everything they have done for me. I have nothing but love in my heart as I depart this great organization. Mr. Kraft, the coaches, the strength staff, the trainers, the media personnel, the marketing department, the rest of the amazing staff members at Gillette, and especially my teammates…THANK YOU for all that you have given and have done for me. I want to say that I see the silver lining in things now more than ever, and am a true believer that things DO happen for a reason. This goes out to anyone that will ever come across a mere bump in the road; be thankful, be positive, because there’s a deeper purpose of WHY things happen that we may not yet, or may never come to understand. Just believe. I will miss New England, and more than anything, I’ll be missing the smiles on those kids whom I visited and acted like a goofball in front of. It was ALL worth it. God bless.
There wasn’t a huge difference this preseason between the two punters, but in the end it likely came down to salary, and as a rookie Allen makes a lot less than Mesko. The move will reportedly save the Patriots nearly $1 million.
The Patriots have also released defensive tackle Marcus Forston, running back George Winn according to ESPNBoston.com’s Field Yates. The roster is now down to 60 players.
10:43 a.m.: According to Pro Football Talk, the Patriots have cut defensive end Jermaine Cunningham.
The Patriots drafted Cunningham in the second-round of the 2010 NFL draft, and the Florida product started as a rookie. But he fell out of favor on the defensive line last season, and was also suspended for four games for violating the league’s performance-enhancing substance policy. He finished his three-year Patriots career with 59 tackles and 3.5 sacks in 35 games.
Cunningham, who battled injuries for most of the preseason, is the second recent second-round pick the Patriots have released this week. New England also let go of 2011 second-round pick Ras-I Dowling on Wednesday.
With Cunningham’s release, the Patriots are down to 64 players on their roster. They must be down to 53 players on their roster by 6 p.m..