The Patriots will have a new punter in 2007.
The team cut punter Josh Miller today, leaving just youngsters Danny Baugher and Tom Malone in a battle for the job.
"He enjoyed his time in New England and it was great to win a championship," said Glenn Schwartzman, Miller's agent. "We're appreciative of the chance to get on the market a bit early and find Josh a new home."
The 37-year-old Miller was entering his fourth season with the Patriots. He was limited to 10 games in 2006, landing on injured reserve due to his shoulder (which affected his drop, a key technique for punters).
Miller was also the team's primary holder on field goals in 2006, a chore that likely will fall to backup quarterback Matt Cassel. Both the 23-year-old Baugher and 23-year-old Malone can hold if necessary.
Baugher and Malone spent time on the Patriots' practice squad last year, and both punted in NFL Europa. Baugher would have to be considered the favorite at this time, although the gap is not significant enough that it couldn't be closed through the rest of the preseason.
Baugher and Malone split punting duties in the preseason opener. The Patriots plan to take a similar approach Friday night, and partially in fairness to Miller, decided to set him free to seek other opportunities. Miller, a left-footed punter who had earned a reputation as one of the NFL's better directional and hang-time punters, had been growing frustrated about his limited opportunities.
Financial considerations could also be a factor in the Patriots' move. Baugher and Malone each have a base salary of $285,000, while Miller was making $820,000.