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2020 NFL roster cuts: Patriots make surprising decision to release rookie linebacker Cassh Maluia

Related: Patriots roster cuts tracker: News, rumors, instant analysis, and more

New England Patriots Training Camp Photo by Steven Senne-Pool/Getty Images

The New England Patriots continue trimming their roster with cutdown deadline on the horizon. After already parting ways with 15 players earlier today, the team also decided to add rookie linebacker Cassh Maluia to the list of roster cuts.

LB Cassh Maluia

Maluia’s release is the first real surprise of cutdown day considering that the sixth-round rookie appeared to have a solid training camp. After originally entering the NFL projected to become a run-first defender, he made some solid strides in coverage as well. His outlook for the 2020 season was projected to be as an Elandon Roberts-like inside linebacker: primarily an early-down defender who also has value in the kicking game.

The Patriots, however, seem to have different plans.

With the Wyoming product now exposed to waivers — he could return to the practice squad if unclaimed, although that is not a given — and fellow off-the-ball linebackers Terez Hall and De’Jon Harris also released, New England is comparatively light at the position. Ja’Whaun Bentley is a true inside linebacker, while Josh Uche and Anfernee Jennings are capable of playing the move role both on and off the ball. The team could, of course, also use safeties Adrian Phillips and Kyle Dugger at linebacker.