By Tuesday, the Patriots must trim their roster from 84 to 75 players, the first of two major cut-downs that will take place in the next week (they'll need to be at 53 players by next Saturday).
There are many factors that go into roster decisions, and the cut-down to 75 players might not be reflective of those players that the team feels have the least amount of talent or value. Rather, there could be some players released on Tuesday (or even before) that the Patriots feel they have fully evaluated and don't project to land on their active roster or practice squad. Others, meanwhile, remain a work in progress from an evaluation standpoint.
With all that in mind, here's our guess at nine players who could be released on or before Tuesday's mandated deadline.
Wide receiver Kamar Aiken. Limited in recent days due to an undisclosed injury, Aiken has fallen behind the trio of rookie receivers on the depth chart. He's an intriguing mix of size and speed, but he couldn't consistently get on the field for reps when healthy.
Punter Ryan Allen. Perhaps a surprising name to appear on this list, but our feeling is that Zoltan Mesko has separated himself in the punting competition. Allen has a strong leg and a decorated college résumé, which could land him work with another team.
Wide receiver Johnathan Haggerty. Haggerty has seen limited action in preseason games and has worked largely with the opportunity group during practices. The former Bears and Browns receiver is the kind of player who the team can keep on its list of street free agents if it ever needed to bring a body in quickly.
Cornerback Brandon Jones. Jones has been dealing with an undisclosed injury in recent days, so he could be given the waived/injured designation if the team parts ways with him. The Rutgers product is near the bottom of the cornerback depth chart.
Tight end Evan Landi. Recently signed, Landi may not last long with the Patriots. Though Rob Gronkowski remains on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list, the Patriots have been able to get by with four tight ends, and if Daniel Fells returns soon, Landi could be the odd man out.
Cornerback LeQuan Lewis. Lewis was brought aboard when the Patriots' cornerback depth decreased due to injuries to both Ras-I Dowling and Alfonzo Dennard. If either returns soon, Lewis seems like a candidate to go.
Offensive lineman Brice Schwab. The Patriots have a group of young linemen who could be vying for a practice squad spot, but given the thin interior-line depth, Schwab, a tackle prospect, could be squeezed out of a roster spot.
Running back George Winn. The Patriots are deep and talented in the backfield, though Winn could end up on a practice squad somewhere else around the league.