Tiquan Underwood was cut by the New England Patriots just 24 hours before the Super Bowl, and the move has caused plenty of uproar. It's cold, sure, but the move was also a calculated one, as you would probably expect. As the news began to trickle out, I wondered if the timing had something to do with a competitive advantage, and it seems that it did.
In short, releasing Underwood now, and not days ago, ensures the New York Giants cannot claim him, allowing them to gain some kind of perceived advantage. It's likely the Patriots decided Chad Ochocinco would be active, making Underwood expendable. So instead of keeping the young wide receiver, New England called up a practice squad defensive end for depth.
Albert Breer elaborates on the rules.
For everyone wondering about timing on Underwood: Pretty sure a reason to do it now would be that the Giants can't claim him. It's too late.— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) February 5, 2012
... If that's indeed why the Patriots are doing it now, my guess is it was planned, and Underwood was apprised of it all along.— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) February 5, 2012
The earliest the Giants could pickup Underwood is Monday, so the Patriots don't have to risk losing a player to their Super Bowl opponent. Remember, coaches are always paranoid, and Bill Belichick certainly looks to find every competitive advantage available while preventing his opponents from doing the same. After all, Josh McDaniels did join the team as a quality control coach just before the Patriots faced the Broncos.
So releasing Underwood 24 hours before the Super Bowl was cold, but it's just another reminder that the NFL is a business. Underwood may have known the move was coming, but that doesn't make it any easier to swallow for him. Then again, I'm sure plenty of coaches would pull the same move Belichick did, so there's that.