Malik Cunningham's rise from the practice squad to active roster has been one of the New England Patriots' best stories in an otherwise difficult start to the year. The Louisville product went from preseason standout, to the practice squad, to actually seeing a few snaps in Week 6.
However, this dream came crashing down on Tuesday, as the Pats decided to waive Cunningham from the active roster. Head coach Bill Belichick certainly didn't sugarcoat things the next day when discussing the move.
Belichick said releasing Cunningham was "doing what's best for the team." Yeesh. The HC did state New England would bring him back to the practice squad "if he's not claimed."
This is a case where Belichick's prickly persona comes off incredibly poorly. Even if he doesn't want to show many emotions, he could at least speak a little more favorably of a player he's overseeing, especially one whose job security is now completely up in the air.
For Cunningham, this has got to sting. Not only is his (ex-?)head coach saying releasing him is better for the team than keeping him, but this comes on the heels of the quarterback inking a three-year contract for a spot on the active roster. Most of that deal wasn't guaranteed, but it sent a message that Cunningham's role could be expanding.
Now, it's back to the uncertainty of waivers, which Cunningham already experienced after the preseason. He did clear then, which paved the way for his return to the Patriots' practice squad, but a rival team could take a shot on him this time around -- whether for his skills or just to toy with Belichick.
Even if he goes unclaimed, it's worth wondering if Cunningham would want to keep things going in New England considering how the team has treated him to this point.
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