The Patriots apparently tried to trade him but couldn’t find any suitors. In February, sources indicated Meriweather could be worth as much as a third-round draft pick on the trade market, but his value was destroyed Saturday when word leaked the Pats were willing to release him.
Meriweather, who was on the books for $1.65 million in the last year of his rookie contract, earned trips to each of the last two Pro Bowls — a deserving selection in 2009 and a questionable one in 2010 — and never missed a game during his four seasons in New England, but the 2007 first-round pick became unpredictable on the field over the last year.
He has always been a shaky tackler, but his coverage skills waned in 2010, when he took poor angles to the ball and was victimized by big plays. He also lost his starting job early in the year when he said he wasn’t practicing up to the standard of the coaching staff.
Meriweather’s 2011 camp got off to a poor start, as his flaws in coverage were on regular display. He was also reamed out by safeties coach Matt Patricia on one occasion for having a poor showing during a positional drill.
While the writing had been on the wall, the release was still surprising because the Patriots don’t have a ton of experience at safety since also cutting James Sanders. Patrick Chung has had a terrific month and is one of the team’s no-doubt starters, but as the roster currently stands, second-year safety Sergio Brown will likely start alongside Chung with James Ihedigbo and Josh Barrett coming off the bench. It’s also very possible the Patriots acquire another safety in the near future.
Obviously, Meriweather never reached his full potential, but the most disappointing aspect of his career progression is that he regressed in the last year — so much so that the Patriots couldn’t even get a conditional draft pick for him before his release.