FOXBORO – Leon Washington, whose role was lining up as the Patriots prime kickoff returner, will be released by the team, according to reports.
The veteran running back signed as a free agent this offseason was one of six Patriots backs to make the roster after Saturday’s cut to 53 players.
But with the Patriots adding players released by other teams on Sunday, Washington gets released as the team cleared room for newcomers.
Six was a heavy number of backs for the team to carry. While the Patriots have labored on kickoff returns for the past several seasons, Washington didn’t bring a ton of backfield impact to augment his role in the return game.
Still, don’t rule out Washington being reeled back in. As the season goes on and temperatures drop, the number of kickoff returns resulting in touchbacks dwindles and starting field position becomes a bigger factor. If he goes unsigned, Washington will also serve as unemployed depth for the Patriots, ready to be summoned if there are injuries to any of the remaining Patriots backs.
The Patriots also released cornerback and special teamer Marquice Cole, according to a report by the Boston Globe.
To help fill out the roster, the team claimed defensive tackle AJ Francis who had been signed originally by the Dolphins as an undrafted free agent. The Patriots also claimed guard Chris Barker, according to the Reno Gazerrte-Journal, and center Braxston Cave, which Cave announced on Twitter.