In a surprise move, the Patriots released veteran linebacker Bobby Carpenter today, according to ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter.
Carpenter, who signed a one-year deal as a free-agent this offseason, had been lauded by Bill Belichick for his smarts at various times this offseason. He projected as a top backup on either the weakside (behind Jerod Mayo) or strongside (behind Dont'a Hightower). He also showed up on special teams units.
With Carpenter's release, the Patriots' linebacker corps looks like this:
Starters: Mayo (weakside), Brandon Spikes (middle), Hightower (strongside)
Backups: Mike Rivera (middle), Tracy White (weakside), Rob Ninkovich (starting end who could play linebacker)
This group looks a bit thin, although the Patriots have also been using safeties Tavon Wilson and Nate Ebner in linebacker-type roles in often-used sub packages.