On Tuesday the New England Patriots released recently acquired defensive tackle Jonathan Fanene. Fanene signed a three-year deal with the Patriots worth $3.85 million but had missed the last thirteen practices. This is just one of several releases that look to take place with injured players.
One lingering problem the Patriots have had this offseason is injuries to key players. When one player returns more have gone down. Some of the key players have included Vince Wilfork, Sebastian Vollmer, and Brandon Spikes. While those players have returned to full practice, others have not been as lucky.
The current crop of injured players includes free agent tight end Visanthe Shiancoe and 2012 NFL Draft pick Alfonzo Dennard. Shiancoe was signed as a free agent earlier this offseason as the Patriots looked to add depth behind star tight ends Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez. The veteran tight end has been in the NFL since 2003 spending those seasons with the New York Giants and Minnesota Vikings.
Alfonzo Dennard was selected by the Patriots in the seventh round of this year’s draft. Originally projected as a first or second round pick, Dennard got arrested just days before the draft which dropped him to near the end of the draft. With enormous potential and his court hearing delayed until the end of the season, he looked to be a possible steal for the Patriots.
Depth at the tight end position and good young talent in the defensive secondary were key targets for the Patriots this offseason. With Shiancoe and Dennard it looked as though they had solved those issues. But with both players being out the majority of training camp and the team having to cut their roster from 85 to 75 on Monday, their time could being running out.
The release of Fanene on Tuesday is just the first of multiple key acquisitions that the Patriots will be forced to let go in the coming week. These players were brought in to solve issues that the team had at multiple positions as they attempt to repeat as AFC champions. But injuries have ravaged this team and caused the Patriots the lose players once seen as key to success.