So Long, Zoltan

With the Patriots making their final cuts to finalize the 53 man roster, there were a few surprises. Tim Tebow, for all his hype, was cut by the team. That’s not a huge surprise from a football perspective, but it’s never really about football when people talk about that guy. If you can’t throw, you can’t play quarterback in the NFL, and Tebow can’t throw. It’s hard to teach a 26 year old dog new tricks while competing against the best football players in the world, so he had no business on the New England Patriots purely for football reasons. The bigger surprise today was the release of punter Zoltan Mesko.

Since being selected by the Patriots in the 5th round of the 2010 NFL Draft, the former Michigan Wolverine had been as reliable as any punter in the league. Through three NFL seasons, he averaged 44.2 yards per punt. Bill Belichick likes to place an emphasis on special teams, and Mesko provided him with great field position advantages. Off the field, the Romanian-born punter was active in charity activities for the community. That seems like the perfect kind of guy the Pats would want to keep around, especially after the public relations nightmare of an offseason they just had, right? Wrong.

The Pats, at the end of the day, are a really cheap franchise. They let Wes Welker walk over an insignificant amount of money considering the amount of revenue they rake in every year. They tried to save a few bucks when they needed a veteran safety by signing Adrian Wilson instead of Ed Reed. Not only is Reed a much better player who could have bolstered the Pats’ defense enough to make the the consensus Super Bowl favorit, but Wilson was placed on injured reserve today. You really nailed that deal, guys!

The Patriots signed an undrafted rookie punter named Ryan Allen to provide some competition at the punter position in camp. Allen was a two time Ray Guy Award (given to the best punter in college football) winner, but didn’t exactly outplay the ever reliable Mesko. The Patriots seem to care more about winning the money game than they care about winning the game on the field, though. Allen was a cheaper option, but not that much cheaper. Paying a punter a million dollars is worth it if he’s reliable, and Mesko was. Allen is still unproven, but yet again, the team that’s already well below the salary cap made a decision based on penny pinching rather than trying to win football games. Tom Brady signed a team friendly contract with the understanding that it would help the team give him the pieces he needs to win a Super Bowl, but all they have done is sign cheap players and let reliable guys like Mesko and Welker leave to save even more money. I would be so mad if I were Brady. He won’t be able to play forever and only has a few more cracks at the Super Bowl, but Belichick and the Kraft family are more concerned with dollars and cents, it seems.

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