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The Patriots began the painful process of cutting down the roster by announcing Saturday that they’ve severed ties with safety Brandon Meriweather, running back Sammy Morris, and wideouts Brandon Tate and Tiquan Underwood.
The departures of Underwood and Tate aren’t that startling given the depth the Patriots have at receiver, but releasing Meriweather and Morris is a bit more stunning.
Meriweather, 27, was drafted by the Patriots with the 24th pick in the 2007 draft. In his four full years in New England he had 261 tackles, 12 interceptions, one touchdown and two Pro-Bowl appearances.
It wasn’t all lollipops and roses for Meriweather in Foxborough though. He was a bit of a troubled player who most notably was one of the poster children for the NFL’s push against illegal hits on defenseless receivers.
This came after a brutal helmet to helmet crunch on then, Ravens tight end Todd Heap. His release leaves the Pats with none of their picks from the 2007 draft still on the roster.
Morris joined the Patriots on March 3, 2007 when he signed a four year deal with the team. He had just signed a contract to play one more year in New England but that won’t be happening.
Morris’ agent, Mark Slough tweeted about his client’s release:
“In 12 yrs, I’ve never had this talk w/ #Patriots RB Sammy Morris … just notified of his release. Sammy is consummate professional & class act.”
The veteran, who has also played for the Buffalo Bills and Miami Dolphins, was trapped in a log jam at the running back position. BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Danny Woodhead are New England’s two primary backs and it was unlikely rookies Shane Vereen and Stevan Ridley would be cut after being selected in the second and third round of the draft.
Morris, 34, has continually said he wants to continue playing football, but it is uncertain who would be willing to take a chance on the aging back.
The release of Tate and Underwood as previously stated, was more expected and makes sense.
Tate quickly became a fan favorite with the locals when he returned two kickoffs early in the year last season. Unfortunately, the third round pick in the 2009 draft fell off after that point.
He was given more than enough chances to succeed, especially after the trade of Randy Moss. The Patriots tried to utilize his speed by making him their deep threat on offense but things never panned out as planned.
Underwood was acquired last Monday off waivers. He had four catches for 52 yards Thursday in the Patriots preseason finale, but it wasn’t enough to make the team.
Follow Brian Moller on Twitter: @Brian_Moller