While Julian Edelman’s departure from the New England Patriots dominated the headlines on Monday afternoon, he was not the biggest player released by the team that day. That honor belongs to defensive tackle Michael Barnett, who stands at 6-foot-3 and 310 pounds (compared to Edelman’s 5-foot-10, 200-pound frame).
Barnett had originally joined the Patriots last August to provide depth along the interior defensive line behind Lawrence Guy and Adam Butler. The 23-year-old did participate in his first few practices with the team, but later missed time due to an undisclosed ailment that eventually led to the team to release him with an injury designation.
The undrafted rookie passed through waivers untouched and reverted to New England’s injured reserve list. Ineligible to be reactivated again, Barnett’s first season as a pro ended before it even truly began. The Georgia product remained under contract heading into the new league year but was now let go by the club again, this time without the injury-tag.
Despite him now out of the picture, though, the Patriots still have plenty of bodies along the interior defensive line. Veterans Lawrence Guy, Deatrich Wise Jr. and Carl Davis were all retained last month, while Davon Godchaux, Henry Anderson and Montravius Adams were added via unrestricted free agency. New England also returns Byron Cowart, Akeem Spence, Nick Thurman and Bill Murray.
Assuming that cornerback J.C. Jackson eventually signs his second-round restricted free agent tender sheet, and that safety Patrick Chung’s retirement become official, New England now has 77 players on its 90-man offseason roster.
Barnett’s release did open up a roster spot, but it does not impact the Patriots’ salary cap number given that he was not part of the Top-51 contracts. According to Miguel Benzan, the team currently is $15.55 million under the cap.