FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Patriots players were guarded in their remarks on cornerback Leigh Bodden's release, and there seemed to be two lines of thinking.
For some, they classified it as "nothing surprises me in this business."
For others, the timing of the move was what contributed to being surprised, as it came two days before their game against the Steelers. Also, it wasn't as if Bodden had not been contributing in his role as third corner. From this view, a team doesn't cut its third corner two days before its next game simply based on performance; there has to be more to it than just that.
Cornerback Antwaun Molden, who is a leading candidate to take over Bodden's role as the nickel corner, said he's already learned this is a business. He compared his own situation -- being waived by the Texans near the end of preseason -- to what was unfolding with Bodden.
"Every guy has a responsibility and the next guy is going to have to step up," he said.
The Patriots have had Devin McCourty and Kyle Arrington as their starting corners, with Bodden the third man, followed by Molden in the dime.
Rookie Ras-I Dowling is also on the depth chart, but he's been sidelined since Week 2 with a hip injury, while Phillip Adams -- who has been on and off the roster -- adds another layer of depth.
The Patriots now have an open roster spot, which could go to one of their players on the physically unable to perform list -- running back Kevin Faulk or defensive linemen Ron Brace or Brandon Deaderick.
As for Bodden's time in New England, his first season (2009) was his best. After enduring the Lions' winless season the year before, Bodden was revived to join the Patriots and was the team's most consistent corner, leading the club with 17 passes defended while starting on the right side.
He was on a one-year deal at the time, and the performance set him up for a nice free-agent payday, a four-year, $22 million deal (approximately $10 million guaranteed) in which the Patriots were competing with the Texans for his services.
Bodden missed all of 2010 with a torn rotator cuff sustained in a preseason game.
Bodden was earning $3.9 million this season. The Patriots will pay the remainder of that if he is not claimed on waivers, which reflects how Bill Belichick wasn't pleased with Bodden's performance -- or perhaps his willingness to accept the third corner role -- as he is willing to eat the salary.