Sharing a few thoughts on the release of linebacker Bobby Carpenter:
1. White's health. Veteran linebacker Tracy White has missed consecutive games with a foot injury, and his special-teams role has been partially filled by Carpenter. It's possible that White is nearing a return, and with the bye week at hand, he has additional recovery time. With rookie linebacker Dont'a Hightower settling back in after dealing with a hamstring issue, having both White and Carpenter is doubling up on depth-level linebackers with primarily special-teams roles.
2. Shiancoe set to return? With a roster spot available, the door has been opened for tight end Visanthe Shiancoe to be removed from the injured reserve list (he was placed on the list with the team's lone designation to return). Shiancoe returned to practice last Wednesday, and the team has 21 days to make a decision on whether he will return to game action or remain on IR for the balance of 2012. Players who are placed on IR with the designation to return are eligible to play in games eight weeks after being put on the list. Shiancoe, placed on IR on Sept. 5, is now eligible to play. We'll see if the team decides to activate the veteran before Week 10.
3. Trade deadline impact. Trades are uncommon in football, and we wouldn't count on any significant move from the Patriots prior to Thursday's trade deadline. But it's important to keep in mind that once the trade deadline has passed, all players who are released are subject to waivers, vested veterans included. Prior to the deadline, players with four or more years of experience in the NFL are automatically released, which is what happened to Carpenter on Tuesday. If the team had waited to make the move until Thursday, Carpenter would have been subject to waivers and potentially claimed by another team. Given that Carpenter knows the system and could be called upon in a pinch if needed, the team may want to minimize the risk of him being picked up by another team by releasing him now. Yes, the possibility of Carpenter signing with another team of his choosing is now in play, but at least there's no risk of him being claimed by a team he had no interest in playing for.