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What's going on in the Patriots' secondary?

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When New England traveled to Indianapolis in mid-November, Colts receiver Reggie Wayne praised the Patriots secondary as their best in 14 years of the rivalry.

With the release of Kyle Arrington on Monday, the Patriots have now parted ways with all three starting cornerbacks from Super Bowl XLIX, leaving the position as the biggest question mark on the roster.

So what's behind the organization's decision to move on from Darrelle Revis, Brandon Browner and Arrington?

Analysis of Patriots strategy can be tricky because Bill Belichick is not only so circumspect but also tends to be a step ahead of league-thinking.

As is often the case in professional sports, though, the answer to our question is money.

Revis' contract wasn't meant to last more than one season. The Pats might have briefly considered picking up his astronomical $20 million option that would have counted $25 million against the cap, but it was never a realistic scenario.

The team also balked at Browner's $2 million roster bonus after the 2011 Pro Bowler was whistled for the second-most penalties among NFL cornerbacks.

Arrington was scheduled to earn $3 million and account for $4.625 million on the salary cap, high figures for a niche player who took the field on just 40.9 percent of defensive snaps last season. Although Arrington stifled T.Y. Hilton in a pair of meetings with the Colts, he was also benched in the second half of the Super Bowl.

Perhaps it's no coincidence that Arrington was jettisoned just days after the Patriots took a flier on seventh-round pick Darryl Roberts, a freakishly athletic cornerback graded by Pro Football Focus as a second-round talent.

With the three veterans out of the picture, the Patriots are left with Super Bowl hero Malcolm Butler, Eagles castoff Bradley Fletcher and 2013 third-rounder Logan Ryan -- also benched versus the Seahawks -- competing for the two outside jobs.

That would leave Roberts, former Falcons corner Robert McClain and second-round safety Jordan Richards as candidates to man the slot behind a loaded front seven.

For much of Belichick's New England tenure, he's made do with patchwork offensive and defensive backfields. That appears to be the case again this year, with Jonas Gray the frontrunner to open the season as the starting running back in lieu of a suspended LeGarrette Blount.

The Patriots tend to use September and early October to tinker with different combinations before finding their identity by midseason.

Just as Blount didn't materialize as a backfield savior until November, the same could hold true with the cornerback experiments in 2015.

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