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Patriots LS Joe Cardona "may need to leave the Patriots for a year" for Navy Service

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The Patriots might need to find another long snapper for 2016!

The New England Patriots might have an opening at long snapper for the 2016 season.

The Patriots relied on 2015 5th round pick Joe Cardona to provide his long snapping services for the season, but the draft pick came with a major caveat: Cardona, as a graduate of Navy, would have to fulfill his service requirements.

Cardona was allowed to serve the Navy in active duty by working a 24-hour shift at the Naval Academy Preparatory School once a week. That deal no longer seems to be on the table for 2016 according to Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus.

Mabus spoke on the Dan Patrick Show to address 2016 draftee and Navy graduate Keenan Reynolds and whether or not he'd be able to play in the NFL this season. In his answer, Mabus spoke a little on the future of Cardona.

"We have Joe Cardona, long snapper for the Patriots," Mabus said. "He played last year for the Patriots while he was on active duty because he was able to work them both out. He's been assigned to a ship and he's going to report to that ship so he may need to leave the Patriots for a year or so in order to go fulfill that role."

Based on that response, Cardona might not be available to play for the 2016 season, or at the very least not for a good chunk of the year. The Patriots could stash Cardona on a reserves list so he won't count against the team's roster limit, and possible retain an additional year of control over the long snapper's contract.

Cardona has four more years remaining in his 5-year military service commitment.

New England signed long snapper Christian Yount in case Cardona is unable to participate in the 2016 season.

(h/t PatsFans.com)