Since waiving veteran tight end Visanthe Shiancoe and placing wide receiver Donte' Stallworth on injured reserve last week, the Patriots have moved to fill only one of the two available active roster spots (accomplished by re-signing wide receiver Deion Branch).
That meant the team was required to deactivate just six players this past Sunday night when they took on the 49ers, in accordance with the 46-man game-day roster limit.
On Tuesday, head coach Bill Belichick was asked about the potential of filling the roster spot, and offered some insight into the team's thinking on the situation.
"That's something that we'll talk about today," he said. "We had a couple of preliminary thoughts on it, but nothing definitive so we'll focus on a little research and thinking and trying to see where some of our players are relative to their availability this week. We'll have that conversation probably later on this afternoon. I'll meet with the coaching staff on it to try to figure out where we are. We have to inactivate seven players anyways; if we sign a player at that position and then have to inactivate him, the gain on that is marginal."
While injuries and deactivations are among the considerations for filling the final spot, so too is the pending re-activation to the roster of defensive end Jermaine Cunningham, who will serve the final of a four-game suspension this Sunday, Belichick noted.
"We do anticipate Jermaine returning to the team after this game, so we're going to need a spot for that if he comes back and is activated and all that," he said. "Again, that hasn't happened yet, but that's on the horizon."
He didn't rule out staying put at 52 players until Cunningham is eligible to return.
"One thing we've talked about is just leaving that spot open in anticipation of that happening," Belichick said. "If we sign a player, we then have to re-open it, that type of thing. We'll look at our options and try to see what's best for everybody involved here."