It's always fun to play the role of general manager, and with that in mind, each of ESPNBoston's Patriots reporters identified three players who were waived/released by other teams that might project to interest New England:
Clyde Gates, WR/KR (Dolphins) -- Rookie running back/returner Jeff Demps was placed on injured reserve, leading to the question of who might take kickoffs for the Patriots. Perhaps Gates would be a consideration, as he was one of the fastest players in the 2011 draft and he had a 24.8-yard average on 34 returns last year for the Dolphins. Always a concern when a receiver-needy team like Miami releases a receiver, but perhaps in the specialized role, the speedy Gates could appeal to the Patriots.
Jacob Hester, FB (Chargers) -- The Patriots brought three fullbacks to training camp and none of them remain with the team, so the position makes some sense to target. Hester, who is considered a hard-nosed player, could help on special teams and in two-back sets and he's still in his prime years. In 2008, when the Chargers traded up to select Hester in the early third round, they dealt with the Patriots, so this would bring things full circle.
Mike Kafka QB (Eagles) -- With just two quarterbacks on the active roster in Tom Brady and Ryan Mallett, one would think the Patriots will explore available signal-callers, either for the active roster or practice squad. Kafka, a 2010 fourth-round draft choice of the Eagles out of Northwestern, seems to have some characteristics the club seeks at the position, starting with intelligence. He's available because he lost out to Trent Edwards for the No. 3 job this preseason, in part because he suffered a fractured left hand which knocked him out of the final three games.
Diondre Borel, WR (Packers) -- A college quarterback at Utah State, the 6-foot-1, 199-pound Borel was considered to be in the mix on the back end of a deep Packers receiving corps. In college, he was a threat as both a runner and passer, and is second in school history with more than 8,000 yards of total offense. In the NFL, Borel spent last season on Green Bay's practice squad, and turned down an opportunity to sign with Tampa Bay late in the season. This preseason, Borel saw work as both a kick returner and punt returner, although he did fumble once. As a receiver this preseason, he had 7 receptions for 48 yards. With the Patriots thin at wide receiver and now without Jeff Demps at kick returner, Borel is a Julian Edelman-like player who could do multiple things for the team.
Shaun Chapas, FB (Cowboys) -- As the backup to Tony Fiammetta in Dallas for parts of last season, Chapas' release was considered a bit of a surprise. On Thursday, ESPNDallas.com's Todd Archer wrote the following of Chapas: "The move is somewhat surprising ... Chapas has the ability to play a major role on special teams ... Chapas had a solid training camp and improved as leader blocker. He could be a target for a team looking for a fullback and special-teamer off the waiver wire." The Patriots lost a similar player to injured reserve in Spencer Larsen. Numbers-wise, the Patriots are thin offensively, and could use a fullback in their offense. At 6-foot-2, 247 pounds, the Georgia product could fit the bill.
Mike Person, G/T (49ers) -- This would be the Patriots' first crack at the 49ers' seventh-round draft pick in 2011. The 6-foot-4, 299-pounder who spent all of last season as a game-day inactive for San Francisco was moved from tackle to guard in the pros, but couldn't find a spot this season with the 49ers. A Montana State product, the Patriots have tapped the West/Northwest region frequently for offensive linemen: Nate Solder (Colorado), Logan Mankins (Fresno State), Ryan Wendell (Fresno State), Darrion Weems (Oregon), Dustin Waldron (Portland State), Matt Kopa (Stanford), Ryan O'Callaghan (California), Clint Oldenburg(Colorado State).
Jacob Hester, FB (Chargers): Hester, perhaps a surprise cut by the Chargers, is a vested veteran, meaning he is not subject to waivers and can sign with a team of his choosing. Although not a smash-mouth lead blocker, he brings just the kind of versatility the Patriots typically love. A valuable special-teamer, Hester is also dependable as a pass blocker, receiver, and occasional running back too. He's likely to be a popular player on the open market, but may see an opportunity to start in New England as enticing.
Greg Jones, LB (Giants): The Giants parted ways with the former sixth-round draft pick, who was a tackling machine at Michigan State. Jones is a little light in the trunk, checking in at 248 pounds, but has good athleticism and showed some instincts while in college. Although the Patriots have six linebackers on the roster, it's possible that they could seek additional depth as Tracy White continues to deal with an injury. Jones, with just a single season of experience under his belt, is subject to waivers, meaning any team that places a claim on him would have priority over the Patriots. Nonetheless, a player that could make some sense in New England.