Count me among those surprised at the Patriots' decision to waive second-year cornerback Sterling Moore today.
Moore has served as the primary nickel back since the second week of the season, and has played 43 percent of the defensive snaps. His body of work, from this perspective, didn't scream out that he was in danger of being cut.
While Moore isn't a huge factor on special teams, that he'd be replaced by a journeyman special teamer who is unlikely to factor into the defensive mix (Derrick Martin) reflects the view of the coaching staff that he had hit his plateau as a defender, or that the ceiling for his development was low.
Why else would the Patriots be willing to lose a durable player who has logged 43 percent of the defensive snaps?
It's possible that the Patriots are playing some odds here. Moore could still return on the practice squad this season and even in 2013 (if he's not claimed by another team). Had he played one more regular-season game, Moore's future practice squad eligibility would have been affected.
In that case, the Patriots could have the best of both worlds -- addressing what they apparently view as an immediate need with Martin special-teams wise, while still keeping Moore around on the practice squad to add depth at cornerback.