The New England Patriots struggles with getting to the quarterback from last season has been much publicized throughout the NFL Lockout. For that reason, it may be coming as a surprise to many onlookers that the team has decided to release the player who was considered to be their best pass rusher.
Tully Banta-Cain was reportedly informed today by the franchise that he will be released.
The move saves the team $2.3 million against the salary cap this coming season. Banta-Cain wasn't a major earner for the team but he wasn't representing the value of his deal.
Despite leading the team with 15 sacks over the past two seasons as a situational pass rusher. That's the problem however. Banta-Cain, despite his blitzing prowess, was never good enough to be a consistent full time starter. He is not an all around football player, he struggles against the run and isn't reliable in coverage.
What makes things worse is the fact that Banta-Cain is 30 years of age so doesn't offer the same potential to improve as his teammates Jermaine Cunningham and Rob Ninkovich. The former seventh round pick's fate was sealed when he recently underwent a serious surgery to repair a torn muscle in his abdomen.
With the extra salary cap room the Patriots can look to bring in a better pass rushing threat or put the money towards a big play receiver. With Jermaine Cunningham growing into the NFL and Ninkovich offering more than Banta-Cain overall, the team is under no pressure to add a replacement at linebacker.
Nonetheless an edge rush specialist like Matt Roth or even a former 4-3 defensive end Mathias Kiwanuka would be a major improvement over Banta-Cain.
Bill Belichick generally makes the right decision when cutting veterans, this looks to be another name to add to that long list.
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