Scout.com and PatriotsInsider.com have confirmed that New England Patriots running back Corey Dillon will be released tomorrow making the 10-year veteran an unrestricted free agent. According to a league source, Dillon requested to be released despite restructuring his contract in an effort to have a more cap friendly deal last season.
Dillon's role with the Patriots has declined since setting a career-best and franchise rushing record of 1,635 yards during the 2004 regular season. He reached the goal by carrying the ball 345 times (4.7 avg.) also a career high. Considered a downhill ball carrier, Dillon's bruising style of running, and workhorse mindset opened him up to get "dinged." Nagging injuries hurt his production in 2005. He played in just 12 games that season managing only 733 yards on 209 carries for a career-low 3.5 avg.
Last year the 6-foot-1, 225-pound record holder split time with the team's 2006 first round draft pick, Laurence Maroney. Dillon appeared healthier and played in every game during the season, the first time he was able to do so since 2002 when he was with the Cincinnati Bengals. His improved health revitalized his performance, enabling him to gain 812 yards on 199 carries (4.1 avg.) and score a team high and career-best 13 touchdowns.
In three seasons, Dillon appeared in 43 regular season games for the Patriots starting 37 of them. His rushed 753 times for 3,180 yards (4.2 avg.) scoring 37 touchdowns. As a receiver, Dillon made 42 pass receptions for 431 yards and two touchdowns.
A number of teams are rumored to be interested in Dillon's services once the roster move becomes official, but none can speak to him, or his agent, until he becomes a free agent.
The Patriots may be in the market for a veteran of their own to provide depth behind Maroney and Kevin Faulk after Dillon's departure. Of the players set to be available, Sammy Morris, Correll Buckhalter and Najeh Davenport might be good fits for the Patriots. Anthony Thomas is another back who could fill a role in New England.