This job doesn’t get Belichick fired up
This is Bill Belichick’s 37th season in the NFL, and in that time, he has seen thousands of players come and go.
But having to tell them that they’re out of a job hasn’t gotten any easier, not since his first days with the Baltimore Colts, when Belichick became known as “Billy Bad News’’ because he was the Colts’ Turk, the man who told players to grab their playbook and go see head coach Ted Marchibroda - essentially telling them they’re being released.
Then, he was a first-year, low-level assistant. Now, he’s a highly successful head coach.
And still, telling a player he’s cut is “the worst part of the job,’’ Belichick said yesterday.
The NFL mandates that all teams must pare their rosters from 80 to the regular-season limit of 53 by today at 6 p.m., so Belichick is calling a lot of players into his office, to tell them they can’t make the cut in New England at this point, shake their hand, and wish them good luck.
Yesterday, the team started the trimming process by releasing eight players - veterans Ricky Brown, a linebacker who played his college ball at Boston College, and offensive lineman Jonathan Compas and defensive lineman Darryl Richard; first-year players Carson Butler, a tight end, and receiver Buddy Farnham; and rookie free agents Richard Medlin, a running back, and offensive linemen Mike Berry and Corey Woods.
Brown was signed less than two weeks ago, and faced long odds to make the roster, even as a special teamer, because of the number of experienced players at his position.
Richard is the only one of the eight who was drafted by the Patriots, taken 234th overall in 2009, but he never played a regular-season game for the team. He spent his rookie season on the practice squad, then missed all of last season after being placed on injured reserve at the end of the preseason with a foot injury.
With those cuts, the Patriots still have 19 roster moves to make today to get down to 53 - though it may not be the 53 players New England has on the roster come Sept. 12, when it opens the season in Miami.
Belichick frequently shuffles his roster, so while the Patriots will announce 19 more moves today, it’s a safe bet that there will be more to come, especially with more than 800 players hitting the market at the same time.
But giving a player who’s been cut by someone else a job is the opposite of what he’ll be doing today.
“It’s the worst part of the job,’’ Belichick said. “You start with 90 players and you know you’re going to have to release 37 of them or 37 of them can’t make your roster - it’s usually more than that because other players come and are part of that process, too. Guys work hard, they give you everything they’ve got, they go out there and compete, and not everybody can make it.
“It’s always a tough time of year for myself and all the other position coaches as well, because those guys spend a lot of time with those players in meetings, watching film with them, out on the practice field in smaller groups, and really try to develop a good working relationship with those players, and it’s hard to see it end.
“It doesn’t make it any easier, but it’s something - I don’t want to say you get used to it, but it’s something you have to deal with every year. It doesn’t really get any easier.’’
Not every move the Patriots make today will be releasing a player: There could be trades, or players placed on injured reserve, or one or all three of the players still on the active/physically unable to perform list (Kevin Faulk, Ron Brace, and Brandon Deaderick) could be transferred to the reserve/PUP list, meaning they won’t be able to play or practice until after Week 6 of the regular season at the earliest.
For a percentage of players cut, they may never be on another NFL team; others will latch on elsewhere, and could excel. It’s part of the business, but even after nearly four decades it doesn’t make it easier for Belichick to tell a player he’s out of a job.