Pats cut Starks
In addition to meeting with prospects at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis, the Patriots are also conducting business with players on their current roster.
Along those lines, the team announced it has released cornerback Duane Starks.
The move is not surprising, considering that Starks was set to count $5.1 million on the team's salary cap, the sixth highest figure on the club.
Starks played in seven games, with six starts in 2005. He struggled at times, and was benched for the second half of a loss to the Colts on Nov. 7. He was placed on injured reserve with a shoulder injury Nov. 10.
After the loss to the Colts, Starks said: "When things aren't going right, I understand people are going to point fingers. If they want to point fingers at me, that's fine. ... Did it hurt? Of course, I'm a competitive person."
The 31-year-old Starks was acquired by the Patriots last March. The team traded a 2005 third-round pick and 2005 fifth-round pick to the Cardinals, in exchange for Starks and a 2005 fifth-round choice.
Starks had two years remaining on his salary at the time, for $3.6 million each season. But he renegotiated to help consummate the deal to New England, which resulted in his high cap number for 2006. In cutting Starks, the Patriots will save around $3.6 million on the salary cap.
In addition to Starks, cornerback Tyrone Poole ($2.5 million) and outside linebacker Willie McGinest ($8.3 million) have high cap numbers and could be under consideration for a renegotation or outright release.
The Patriots have cornerbacks Asante Samuel, Ellis Hobbs, Poole and longshot Antwain Spann under contract for 2006. In addition, Randall Gay is an exclusive rights free agent who most likely will be tendered a contract to return.