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Patriots release linebacker Shea McClellin with failed physical designation

New England parts ways with the veteran.

New England Patriots v Arizona Cardinals Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

One of the weaknesses of the 2017 New England Patriots was the team's depth at the linebacker position, especially after defensive signal caller Dont'a Hightower and former first round draft pick Shea McClellin were placed on season-ending injured reserve. But while the former will return next season, the latter will likely not.

According to ESPN's Field Yates, the Patriots have released McClellin:

Source: the Patriots have released veteran LB Shea McLellin.

McClellin, who was released with a failed physical designation, was placed on injured reserve in September after suffering what appears to be a serious concussion at one point during the preseason. The 28-year old was designated to return off the list in November but was never activated to the active roster due to a setback during practice.

Despite the issues, however, McClellin planned to continue playing, according to a recent report. The former Chicago Bear was projected to be one of the team’s top three linebackers alongside the aforementioned Hightower and Kyle Van Noy. After all, he played 37% of New England’s defensive snaps during the 2016 season, his first with the Patriots.

Releasing McClellin does free up a net of $1.72 million in salary cap space but simultaneously is a hit to the Patriots' linebacker depth.

[UPDATE 03/19, 5:45 pm ET] The Patriots have officially confirmed the release.