The New England Patriots will enter the 2015 NFL season as the reigning Super Bowl champions, and for that they owe much gratitude to the defensive talents of cornerback Malcolm Butler.
His interception in the dying seconds back in February saved the Pats from defeat against the Seattle Seahawks and catapulted him into the nation's consciousness.
And, after it was announced the team plan to relieve themselves of yet another man on secondary, Bill Belichick and co better hope that Butler is ready to kick on in the upcoming season.
After seeing both starting CBs, Darrell Revis and Brandon Browner, leave New England since the franchise lifted the Super Bowl Patriots fans would be forgiven for having some concerns about their team's traditionally impressive defense.
Those concerns won't be eased by the news, first reported by Ian Rapoport today, that the Patriots plan to cut Alfonzo Dennard - a three year-veteran with the franchise and a man listed as second on the team's depth chart at Right Cornerback.
Dennard will leave the Pats having amassed 86 tackles and five interceptions (including a franchise-tying two picks against Andrew Luck and the Colts in the 2014 playoffs) since being taken in the seventh round of the 2012 draft - five rounds later than many anticipated before legal troubles saw him slide down the draft.
Having brought in Bradley Fletcher (Philadelphia Eagles) and Robert McClain (Atlanta Flacons) earlier in the offseason, as well as picking up a CB (Darryl Robers, Marshall) in the 2015 draft it is clear that the Patriots are continuing an overhaul of their secondary.
This move differs from that of Browner and Revis however, both of whom opted to leave the team rather than being cut from the roster as appears the case with Dennard.
Although the decision leaves the Patriots light at a crucial position it cannot come as a total surprise given Dennard's recent injury issues. Having impressed in both the 2012 and 2013 seasons, the 25-year-old was placed in the injury reserve list two days after Christmas 2014.
With cornerback an increasingly vital position in today's modern game it is perhaps surprising to see the Patriots embark on such major change after their 2014 season. They do though save $1.542 million against the salary cap by cutting Dennard.
For Dennard himself, if he can prove his fitness in the coming months, there is likely another roster in the NFL ready to give him another chance.
Patriots fans: Where do you think your team is weakest heading into the 2015 NFL season? Have your say in the comments section below...
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