The New England Patriots have made two roster moves according to reports. Though the team hasn't officially announced the moves, league sources confirmed that OG Billy Yates and WR Kelley Washington were released by the team.
OL Billy Yates was released by the New England Patriots according to a league source. The 6-foot-2, 305-pound reserve offensive lineman started seven games at right guard for the Patriots in 2008. Yates was in his fourth year with the Patriots after being signed as an undrafted rookie free agent out of Texas A&M by the Miami Dolphins in 2003.
WR Kelley Washington was released by the team according to a league source. The 6-foot-3, 215-pound veteran receiver spent the past two seasons playing a key role on special teams for the Patriots. Washington appeared in 10 games for New England as both a reserve receiver and on special teams.
By releasing both players, the Patriots will save roughly $1.9 million in cap space. Yates was slated to count roughly $800,000 against the cap, while Washingon's cap number was closer to $1.1 million
Teams have this week to release players prior to the start of the new season. For many players, roster and/or option or signing bonuses come due at the beginning of the new season, giving teams a reason to make the cuts now. For others, the moves come because the teams have to find a way to fit their salaries under the cap.
For the Patriots, fitting under the salary cap isn't impossible, even with Matt Cassel's whopping $14.65 million cap charge. The team is actually roughly $6 million below the cap.
The moves for the Patriots are making will free up space to sign new players or re-sign some of their roughly 20 free agents.
According to some estimates, it could take as much as $7 million in cap space to sign the rookies each team drafts. Combined with the need to add free agents, anything short of at least $10 million could hinder the Patriots ability to build depth into the roster.
One note is that rookie salaries don't count against the cap until the players sign their contracts. Often that isn't until the team's minicamps in May /June or occasionally into July.
Draft Talk: Who should the Patriots take at #23?
Cap Issue Concerns