Heading into cutdown weekend, NFL teams have various ways to trim their rosters to get under the league-mandated 53-man threshold. One of those is moving players to injured reserve — either by straight up placing them there or by releasing them with an injury designation with the hopes off them going unclaimed through the waiver wire.
The latter is what happened to the New England Patriots’ Michael Barnett on Friday.
After the undrafted rookie defensive tackle was released by the team with an injury designation on Thursday, he passed through waivers untouched and has now reverted to New England’s injured reserve list. With him joining the list ahead of Sunday’s 4:00 pm ET deadline, he has become ineligible to return to the Patriots’ active roster again this year. Barnett’s first season as a pro is therefore over.
The 23-year-old originally joined the Patriots last week to provide depth at a defensive tackle position that was headed by Lawrence Guy and Adam Butler, but had missed free agency acquisition Beau Allen all training camp. Barnett did participate in his first few practices with the team, but was not spotted on Wednesday and Thursday due to an undisclosed ailment that led the team to expose him to waivers.
Before arriving in New England, Barnett spent five years at the University of Georgia. Appearing in 46 career games for the Bulldogs, he saw regular action along the team’s defensive line each year with the exception of his 2016 redshirt season. He served as more of a backup player early on in his career, though, and only took over a starting role during his 2019 senior campaign. He eventually went undrafted earlier this year.
Now, Barnett is the third member of the Patriots to join an injury-related reserve list:
Injured reserve: WR Quincy Adeboyejo, DT Michael Barnett
Physically unable to perform: LB Brandon King
While Adeboyejo and Barnett are ineligible to be reactivated again this year, special teams ace Brandon King can return to New England’s roster again seven weeks into the regular season.
The other players released by the Patriots on Thursday, meanwhile, are now both unrestricted free agents. Veteran wide receiver Mohamed Sanu moved directly to the open market after being let go, while cornerback Michael Jackson also went unclaimed through the waiver wire before hitting free agency.