FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- The Patriots released tight end Dan Gronkowski today and it's natural to ask why. With this move, and Aaron Hernandez out with a knee injury, it leaves the Patriots with just one tight end -- Rob Gronkowski.
Here are some quick-hit thoughts on the move and how this has been a challenging week for Bill Belichick when it comes to roster management because of a string of injuries:
1. Dan Gronkowski was on the injury report this week (hamstring) and, now that this move has been made, my sense is that he wasn't going to be ready to play anyway.
2. If the Patriots want to go into the game with a second tight end, they have Garrett Mills on the practice squad. Mills is more in the mold of Hernandez, so that move could make sense.
3. At the same time, it wouldn't be shocking if the Patriots go into the game with just one tight end, even though they've run 125 of their 151 offensive snaps with multiple tight ends. They might look at the Bills' defense, which was picked apart by the Raiders last week, and see good opportunities in 3- and 4-receiver sets. That would likely mean extended opportunities for Chad Ochocinco (35 of 151 snaps played)
4. The Patriots have other areas of potential need on the roster, such as defensive back or punter. To create a spot, it makes some sense to trim an injured player who could very well return when healthy.
5. That's been the big theme of this week -- roster management. The Patriots have a lot of banged-up players and the status of some of those players (e.g. safety Patrick Chung, punter Zoltan Mesko) wasn't going to be known for sure until the end of the week. It's been a very fluid situation.
6. Watching the Bills play, they run a lot of spread offense and that means a team needs to be loaded at defensive back. Wouldn't be surprised to see the team make another move there by Saturday at 4 p.m., with someone like practice squad safety Ross Ventrone. That would also help on special teams, which is another consideration.