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2000 Preseason Roster Moves - Part 1
by Clint Mills (8/29/2000)
On Monday evening the Patriots went to the waiver wire to fill the remaining two spots on the 53-man roster, adding depth to the very thin positions of TE and LB.
TE Chris Fontenot will make New England his 5th NFL home after being cut by both the Raiders and Cowboys earlier this preseason. He was originally signed by Jimmy Johnson in Miami following the 1998 draft, but did not make the team. His NFL game experience is limited to a brief stint on the active roster of the '98 Philadelphia Eagles. Could Harvard's Chris Eitzmann really have been this bad? I think we can now officially add TE to our 2001 1st round wish list.
Also aboard is LB Matt Chatham. In this his second season out of college, Chatham had yet to make an NFL roster until Bill Belichick came calling. Following the 1999 NFL draft, Chatham signed on as a rookie free agent with the Rams, but was unable to make the team. The Rams gave him a 2nd chance this summer, but again fell victim to the numbers game in Saint Louis. Are Belichick and Pioli telling us that this guy is more valuable than Marc Megna, who impressed in NFL Europe and was a monster on special teams this summer?
Typically the 52nd and 53rd players added to a roster are of little consequence, but not when one is the 3rd TE and the other the 6th LB on a team that will rely very heavily on their top 4. This roster move may turn very few heads, but think of this as packaging Eitzmann and Megna in exchange for Fontenot and Chatham. Even though the Pats are just rounding out the roster, these signings appear to make very little sense following yesterday's cutdown decisions.
Unless these players find their niche here in New England rather quickly, they may be on the outside again in 6 weeks when the Pats must cut two players to make room for Adrian Klemm and Todd Rucci coming off the "Physically Unable to Perform" list. Common sense would indicate that two offensive linemen will be jettisoned to make room, but on a team with 4 quarterbacks, one never knows.