New England Patriots veteran strong safety Steve Gregory was a candidate for release last offseason after he had a disappointing 2012 campaign, and he was probably the team’s most ineffective starter that year due to the most missed tackles on the team, as well as some shoddy play in coverage. However, Gregory was retained in 2013 after Adrian Wilson didn’t pan out and young safeties Tavon Wilson and Duron Harmon didn’t show enough in training camp. The Patriots faith in Gregory was rewarded during the first half of the 2013 season, as he looked like a much-improved player and was actually solid in coverage. More importantly, the instinctive strong safety continued to make plays near the line of scrimmage and became more consistent at tackling, thus leading to better run defense overall.
However, that all fell apart for Gregory later on in the season, as he reverted back to his old habits of missed tackles and blown coverage assignments. He wasn’t terrible, but the 31-year-old didn’t generate any plays outside of 79 tackles and two passes defended. Set to make $2.25 million next season, it looks like that wasn’t enough for the Patriots, especially since Gregory is on the wrong side of 30 and currently headed to a contract year.
ESPN’s Field Yates reports that the New England Patriots will release Gregory today, and this move shouldn’t come as a surprise. It’s interesting to see the Pats cut ties with him this early, but it shows that they have high aspirations for the safety position opposite of superstar FS Devin McCourty. Will the Patriots go after the big safety that the fans are clamoring for? Will they go for a player who can cover and play the run? How will they address the position in the draft? These are all interesting storylines, and two draft prospects to keep close eyes on are Jimmie Ward and Calvin Pryor, as either could form a very solid safety duo with the excellent D-Mac.