The Steelers ongoing cap purge saw veteran defensive end Aaron Smith fly forth on Thursday. At 35, the oft-injured Smith may be at the end of the line. Biceps, rotator cuff, neck, foot -- they've all given way in the past few seasons for the once-brilliant 3-4 DE that Bill Belichick once felt was one of the most underrated defenders in football. But, given the penchant of the Patriots for scooping up players who seem to be on their way out of the league and wringing one, final, time-managed season out of them, it wouldn't be a surprise if the Patriots reach out to Smith to see if he's DONE done or just done in Pittsburgh.Meanwhile, Raiders' outside linebacker Kamerion Wimbley is staring at a reported ultimatum from the Raiders. Oakland wants him to restructure before the start of the league year. He's due to make 11 million with 6.5 million guaranteed. The fat contract Al Davis gave this solid pass rusher makes him a player the Patriots wouldn't likely trade for. They'd have to take on his deal. But if Wimbley doesn't blink and is released, New England could be interested. One big reason -- pass rush potency. Another? Joe Linta, Wimbley's agent, has a terrific relationship with the Patriots and could help smooth the way for a signing with the Patriots.
The Patriots won't see the Panthers in the regular season, but their preseason game in Carolina on Friday night could serve as a good way to prepare for what they'll see starting in September.