Reggie Wayne and Jonas Gray Surprising Releases as Patriots Cut 11


Less than two weeks after his signing, veteran wide receiver Reggie Wayne and the Patriots are already parting ways. Wayne was one of 11 players cut on Saturday, with the team required to get its roster down to 53 by 4pm.

Sources told ESPN that Wayne asked for his release and New England was willing to oblige. Coach Bill Belichick confirmed the agreement of the two sides in a complimentary statement he made about Wayne:

“Obviously, Reggie’s time here was brief, but it only confirmed what I already thought — he is a true professional who represents every positive attribute a player should emulate. Our parting was mutually agreed upon and I am personally grateful to have worked with one of the great NFL players of the past two decades.”

Wayne’s departure leaves the Patriots thin at the wide receiver position. Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola should be good to go for the opener Thursday against Pittsburgh, but Brandon LaFell, who caught a career-high 74 passes last season, has been placed on the physically unable to perform list and isn’t eligible to play until Week 7.

The Patriots will need major contributions for their tight ends, Rob Gronkowski and Scott Chandler, who’s in his first year with the team after spending the majority of his career with the Buffalo Bills. The 30-year-old has Gronkowski-like size, he’s listed 6′ 7″, 270 pounds, and has caught 143 passes and 11 touchdowns over the past three seasons. He should benefit a great deal from playing with a quarterback of Tom Brady‘s caliber.

The Patriots will also be somewhat sparse at the running back position, after another surprising cut made Saturday. Jonas Gray was released after being held out of the team’s final preseason game. He made headlines last season with a huge game against the Colts, but barely played the rest of the year after missing a practice. His strong showing in the preseason opener seemed to put him on the right track to make the team, but instead the Patriots have decided to move on.

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Number one back LeGarrette Blount is suspended for the season opener, but the decision to cut Gray clearly indicates that New England feels good about Blount handling the bulk of the carries throughout the season. He’ll be backed up by Brandon Bolden, Travaris Cadet, and James White. The three together totaled just 47 carries and 159 rushing yards a year ago, compared to Blount’s 60 and 281 in just five games with the Pats. The team is betting on Blount’s ability to replicate that productivity over the course of an entire season, while likely handling more carries per game.

New England has been joyous since Judge Berman overturned Brady’s suspension on Thursday, but the cuts of Wayne and Gray serve as reminders that the reigning Super Bowl MVP will begin this season with a few less weapons than he’d like. He’s faced this issue before and handling it well, proving throughout his career that he’s quite capable getting contributions from unexpected sources. He’ll have his two favorites target still as well, in Gronk and Edelman. Hopefully Scott Chandler, or perhaps someone less likely, can develop into a third.

Next: Judge Overturns Suspension, Brady Set to Play in Opener