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Popular Patriots, scoop on McDonald & other notes

Posted by Greg A. Bedard  September 5, 2011 12:51 AM

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So we've perused today's waiver wire. It's always fascinating to us who is doing what after they set their tentative 53-man roster, and whose scouting department has stocked their teams.

Obviously you've heard by now the Patriots' castoffs were the most popular in the league, with five players drawing 16 claims total. Both are far and away the most in the league. Five teams has three players claimed (Dallas, San Diego, Miami, Indianapolis and St. Louis). Dallas was the only team with more than three claims (five).

Breakdown by Patriots players (team awarded in bold)

TE Lee Smith (five claims): Buffalo, San Francisco, Tampa Bay, New Orleans, New York Jets.

OG Thomas Austin (four): Cincinnati, Houston, St. Louis, Indianapolis.

WR Brandon Tate (three): Cincinnati, Arizona, New York Jets.

TE Will Yeatman (three): Miami, Tampa Bay, Indianapolis.

DT Landon Cohen (one): Seattle.

In addition to those players, S Brandon Meriweather (Chicago), CB Jonathan Wilhite (Denver), LB Ricky Brown (Oakland) and S James Sanders (Atlanta) have all signed elsewhere.

Nine players who the Patriots released signed elsewhere. That's a pretty good indication of how strong the roster is.

The Packers led the league with five claimed players last year and 10 claims total. Worked out well for them, as they won the Super Bowl.

A lot of people are probably wondering why the Patriots weren't able to find any trade partners for those players. I don't know for sure -- I'm sure they tried -- but I go back to what happened last year with the Packers. They were mighty ticked off that so many of their players got claimed after no one would trade for them. I think the Packers were asking too much -- teams would only go so far before falling back to waivers -- and readjusted their thinking this year. The Packers swung two cutdown trades this year after none last year. Maybe the Patriots will learn a lesson and adjust what they're asking for in trades. Again, this is just a guess.

Here is how the league's waiver wire broke down by number claims made by a team, and then on the right the teams that had players claimed and how popular they were:

Screen shot 2011-09-05 at 12.06.15 AM.png

  • Thought it was interesting the Jets claimed seven players. Thought it might indicate they have more weaknesses than just in-line blocking where they claimed three that can help there (2 OL and Patriots TE Lee Smith). But then I looked back to last year and the Jets led the league with seven claims as well. Worked out OK for them.
  • One of the players the Jets claimed but didn't get because they got their higher priority (C Colin Baxter, Chargers) was former Packers G/C Nick McDonald. He became a free agent and landed on the Patriots' practice squad.
  • I covered McDonald during his NFL training camp as an UDFA out of Grand Valley State. I didn't think enough of McDonald for him to warrant a roster spot last year, but the Packers really liked his potential - so much that they kept him on the 53-man roster for all 20 games last year and he was never active.
  • He came back this year and just hadn't progressed enough. The Packers are not afraid of keeping guys on the bench for multiple years along the offensive line (Allen Barbre, Tony Moll and Breno Giacomini came before and also came up short), so for them to invest a whole year in McDonald and then let him go says a lot.
  • Now, McDonald is a good prospect. He's strapping at 6-4 and 302 pounds, but he really needs to get stronger. He's still not good enough at the point of attack. But he's definitely worth a practice squad spot. And McDonald will get much better line coaching here than in Green Bay, so he still has a chance.
  • Hearing that the one-year contract signed by Meriweather was for between $3-3.5 million.
  • C/G Mike McGlynn, cut loose by the Eagles, was the only other player besides the Patriots' castoffs to have more than two claims put in. He had four: Baltimore, Cincinnati, Indianapolis and St. Louis.
News, analysis and commentary from Boston.com's staff writers and contributors, including Zuri Berry and Erik Frenz.

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