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Patriots reportedly release Keionta Davis after bolstering defensive edge in the draft

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Related: 9 winners and 10 losers from the Patriots’ second and third rounds in the draft

NFL: SEP 23 Patriots at Lions Photo by Scott W. Grau/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The New England Patriots were quite busy over the weekend, adding a total of 10 players to their roster during the draft and reportedly signing an additional 16 men in the subsequent free agency period. The moves created the need to free up space under the 90-man offseason roster limit, however, which led to the Patriots recently making their first post-draft cut: according to The Athletic’s Jeff Howe, the team has released Keionta Davis.

Davis originally arrived in New England as an undrafted rookie in 2017, but he had to spend his entire rookie season on the sidelines due to a neck injury that was diagnosed at the scouting combine. Davis returned to the field in 2018 and appeared in six games as a rotational edge rusher, but he failed to build on his momentum heading into his third year in the system: the Patriots waived him with an injury designation in August and he eventually reverted to season-ending injured reserve.

The 26-year-old was headed for exclusive-rights free agency this offseason, but the Patriots opted to re-sign him to an undisclosed contract in mid-March. However, his return to New England was apparently a short one — likely prompted in part because the team decided to invest some serious capital along its defensive edge over the course of the draft: the team selected Michigan’s Josh Uche and Alabama’s Anfernee Jennings in the second and third rounds, respectively.

Adding the two youngsters to the equation should help the team replace departed veteran linebackers Kyle Van Noy and Jamie Collins, who both left New England in unrestricted free agency, but it also now made Davis expendable. With him now off the roster, the Patriots’ defensive edge consists of roster locks Chase Winovich, John Simon, Uche and Jennings, as well as depth options Derek Rivers and Shilique Calhoun. New England also added rookie free agents Nick Coe and Trevon Hill since Saturday.

Even account for Davis’ release, the Patriots are projected to be over the 90-man roster limit: New England has a total of 92 players on its squad at the moment. Accordingly, the team will either not bring some of the reported rookie free agents on board after all, or part ways with more veteran players currently under contract.