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Patriots bring DT Ricky Jean-Francois back to New England, release LB Jonathan Freeny

The defensive tackle is on a plane to Foxborough.

Houston Texans v Indianapolis Colts Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

The New England Patriots are busy this week in preparation for the Pittsburgh Steelers and they’re in the process of three notable roster moves.

First, they signed wide receiver Kenny Britt to a two-year deal and will have to make a corresponding roster move. Second, they have to activate tight end Rob Gronkowski after his suspension, but the team does not have to do that until Saturday (Edit: Per Bill Belichick himself, the Patriots received a 1-day exemption for Gronkowski, not a standard 1-week. He will be activated later today.)

And then they’ve brought back defensive tackle Ricky Jean-Francois, per the Globe’s Nora Princiotti.

Francois had a cup of Dunkin Donuts coffee with the Patriots from November 7th through December 2nd as the Patriots managed the injury to defensive tackle Malcom Brown. Francois makes his return now that defensive tackle Alan Branch is dealing with an injury that he suffered against the Miami Dolphins.

The Patriots will have to make two roster moves on Wednesday to account for Britt and Francois (unless the Francois signing doesn’t become official until tomorrow), and then a third roster move later this week to bring back Gronkowski.

The likely candidates for release depend on the availability of other veterans like defensive lineman Trey Flowers and linebacker Kyle Van Noy. If they’re able to come back, then defensive lineman Geneo Grissom and linebacker Jonathan Freeny could be the first to be released. We’ll provide updates when available.

UPDATE: The Patriots released LB Jonathan Freeny to make space for Francois.