The news came as a surprise on Monday. The Patriots had cut linebacker Tully Banta-Cain, who had been playing well in his second stint with the team.
Even more surprising is the fact that Banta-Cain thinks he’ll be back.
Banta-Cain was being interviewed by Tim Ryan and Pat Kirwan of Sirius NFL Radio when the news broke, and Banta-Cain suggested that the move will be temporary.
“There’s some stuff going on in terms of the roster,” Banta-Cain said, per Ian Rapoport of the Boston Herald. “I got to see what’s up with that situation.”
Asked whether it’s understanding that he’ll be back with the Patriots, Banta-Cain said, “Yes.”
It sounds like the Patriots plan to be adding someone to the roster, and that they didn’t want to cut a non-vested veteran, who would have been subject to waivers. Likewise, if they’d waited until after the trade deadline to dump Banta-Cain, he would have been required to pass through waivers, and he might have been claimed by the Chiefs, whose G.M. drafted Banta-Cain in 2003 when working as New England’s V.P. of player personnel.
But, still, it’s unclear why the Patriots needed to clear a roster spot the day before the trade deadline, and why they’d have an extra spot available for Banta-Cain once the dust settles.
It could be that they’re potentially trying to add a player via a trade, and also trying to work a deal that would send another player (like Joey Galloway) to a new team.
If/when they pull off one of more deals that result in no net increase to the roster, they can bring back Banta-Cain. If they add a player via trade but can’t work out a deal for Galloway, they can re-sign Banta-Cain and then cut Galloway.
So why would a team like the Ravens trade for Galloway if he’s going to be cut? If the Pats dump Galloway after today, he’ll have to pass through waivers, which means he could be claimed by any team occupying a spot higher on the pecking order than Baltimore.