- Mike Reiss, ESPN Staff Writer
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The Patriots figure to have Leigh Bodden, who was their most consistent cornerback in 2009, starting on the right side. The question is who will be on the opposide side.
Veteran Shawn Springs would have competed for a starting role, but in releasing Springs today, the Patriots appear comfortable with the progress made by 2009 second-round draft choice Darius Butler.
Springs started eight games in 2009, while Butler started five.
This looks like a passing of the torch of sorts.
Butler now projects as the starter, with competition coming from 2010 first-round draft choice Devin McCourty, and third-year players Terrence Wheatley and Jonathan Wilhite. Kyle Arrington is also part of the cornerback discussion, at this point mainly because of his impressive special teams skills.
In terms of value, the Patriots didn't get much bang for their buck with Springs.
In signing a three-year deal last offseason, Springs landed a $2.7 million signing bonus and a $1.75 million base salary. So for $4.55 million, the Patriots received 12 games, 39 tackles, one interception and four passes defended.
Springs was due to earn $2.25 million this year, the ninth-richest total among base salaries of Patriots players.
One other factor when assessing Springs is special-teams value.
With a depth chart headed by Bodden, Butler and McCourty, the Patriots will be relying on their fourth, fifth and perhaps sixth cornerbacks to contribute on special teams. If they didn't project Springs among their top three corners, he was going to have a tough time earning a roster spot.