The New England Patriots continue to shake up their roster after adding a combined 26 players via the draft and the subsequent rookie free agency period over the weekend. One of the players who joined the team is safety Kyle Dugger, who became the team’s highest drafted player when he was picked 37th overall. Dugger will add quality depth and starter upside to the equation, and has now reportedly also made another safety expendable.
According to ESPN’s Field Yates, the Patriots have informed Obi Melifonwu of his release.
Melifonwu originally arrived in New England in November 2018. Serving primarily as an emergency depth option, the former second-round draft pick failed to earn regular playing time and appeared in only two games during his first half-season with the Patriots. He also failed to carve out the role as New England’s fourth safety the following offseason and training camp, despite veteran Patrick Chung having missed spring workouts due to injury.
Instead, Melifonwu was released just one week into the season and later signed to the practice squad. The 26-year-old spent nine weeks on the developmental team before being placed on injured reserve. Even though his 2019 season ended in disappointing fashion, however, Melifonwu was signed to a reserve/futures contract by the Patriots after their playoff exit in January. The addition of Dugger, however, has now changed the outlook.
With Melifonwu out of the picture, New England’s position depth chart at the safety spot now consists of starters Devin McCourty and Patrick Chung, the aforementioned Kyle Dugger, veterans Adrian Phillips, Terrence Brooks and Cody Davis, as well as second-year-men Malik Gant and Adarius Pickett.