The Patriots sent Reche Caldwell on an out route yesterday, releasing their most productive receiver from last season. Caldwell led the team in receptions (61) and receiving yards (760) and tied for the team lead in touchdown catches (4).
The sixth-year wideout became expendable when Randy Moss returned to health.
"It pretty much feels that way, yeah," said Caldwell, who joined the team last year as a free agent. "[Sunday] was his first day back and it may have something to do with it, it may not. The decision was made and I'm looking to move on. I'm not bitter or mad. That's part of the game, players move on."
Cutting Caldwell leaves the Patriots with Moss, Donte' Stallworth, Wes Welker, Kelley Washington, and Jabar Gaffney on the active roster at wide receiver. The team also has Bam Childress and C.J. Jones on the practice squad and Troy Brown and Chad Jackson on the reserve/physically-unable-to-perform list.
All the moves the team made in the offseason at the position foreshadowed Caldwell's departure.
"They brought a lot of guys in. Those are the guys they stuck with," said Caldwell. "It's a bit of a surprise. In training camp I was taking a lot of the reps because Moss was hurt and Donte' was hurt and Jabar was hurt. They stuck with the guys they wanted and I wish them the best."
Caldwell, who had already collected a $106,720 workout bonus and was scheduled to make a base salary of $1.55 million, said he wasn't sure the key drops he had in last season's AFC Championship game played a part in his release.
He did say he is hopeful that he will find a new home. But that will be tougher now that teams have set their 53-man rosters coming out of training camp.
"I think it's very disappointing," said Caldwell's agent, Tony Fleming. "I think Reche had a really good year last year. I think he was very reliable for them last year. He counted on them like they counted on him."