By A. Sherrod Blakely
CSNNE.com Celtics Insider
Like every NFL team this time of year, the New England Patriots are trying to find the right pieces to create a championship-caliber squad.
That requires adding talent, and at times, letting some get away.
As the Patriots went about trimming their roster down to the 80 players required by tomorrow, they did a little bit of both.
Of the 11 players released, none of the moves stood out more than the decision to release veteran safety James Sanders.
"Tough release there with James Sanders," Patriots head coach Bill Belichick said on his weekly press conference Monday afternoon. "James has been a really good guy to have on this team, a hard working kid. Has developed from the time he came to us, he's been a really solid team player for us. We needed to release some people. He was a tough one."
Sanders, a fourth-round pick of the Patriots in 2005, appeared in 80 games for the Pats (50 starts), totally 301 tackles and eight interceptions. Although the Patriots are relatively thin in the secondary, the Pats surely had to weigh whether Sanders likely reduced role justified the 2.8 million salary he's due to make this season.
While Sanders was the most notable release, the Patriots also released tight end Garrett Mills; long snapper Matt Katula (Belichick said the team will sign another long snapper by Thursday); wide receivers Tyree Barnes and Darnell Jenkins; kick Chris Koepplin; defensive end Clay Nurse; defensive tackle Kade Weston; guard Mark Wetterer; defensive back Malcolm Williams and cornerback Jonathan Wilhite.
The Patriots announced the signing of wide receiver Tiquan Underwood, a seventh-round pick of the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2009. The former Rutgers star had eight receptions while appearing in 13 games over the past two seasons for the Jaguars who waived him last week.
New England also announced the return of safety Ross Ventrone, who was released earlier this month after spending most of last season on the practice squad.