By Patriots Insider Staff
FOXBOROUGH — It's that time of year when teams around the league begin to set their rosters. Players who have been through the process understand it's not an easy time to be a rookie or undrafted player. Every aspiring player wants to have their name on the opening day roster, yet nearly thirty of them have to be release prior to the start of the regular season. The Patriots are no exception to this process and have begun their own shake out of the roster prior to veterans reporting to camp.
In a series of moves from last week and through the weekend, the Patriots have made a number of adjustments to the roster, most notably, signing their drafted rookies to contracts in time for the start of training camp. Last year, the team negotiated with their last rookie to sign, first-round selection, Ben Watson, who reported late to camp after holding out through the negotiation process. This season, they can begin camp on time with all their draft picks.
First-round selection Logan Mankins signed a deal which will allow him to participate at camp, and set in motion the process of slotting for other first-round draft picks around the league. Slotting, is the league's way of determining value for a player's contract according to the position they were drafted, the position they play, and a certain percentage increase over the contact a player from last season's slot was signed for.
With Mankins signing, the Patriots have all of their draft picks signed and ready for camp. Last week, Ellis Hobbs, III signed his rookie agreement. The other draft picks include: Nick Kaczur, OL, Toledo; James Sanders, DB, Fresno State; Ryan Claridge, LB, UNLV; Matt Cassel, QB, USC; and Andy Stokes, TE, William Penn.
Part of the camp process is to sort out those players who have a viable chance to play for the team from those who would be better served trying their chances elsewhere. Many players go through this process as teams whittle their rosters down from the 85 - 90 (depending upon NFLEL exemptions) on the roster now, to the 54 players allowed during the season. The Patriots have begun to tweak the bottom of the depth chart by releasing a number of the players signed during the offseason.
Players Released: DeCori Birmingham, RB, Arkansas; Demarco McNeil, DL, Auburn and Earl Charles, RB, Marshall. All three players were signed to the roster in time to participate in the team's minicamp.
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