Despite what had been a solid preseason performance, the New England Patriots are reportedly parting ways with Lil’Jordan Humphrey. According to Andrew Callahan of the Boston Herald, the Patriots will release the wide receiver ahead of Tuesday’s roster cutdown deadline.
Humphrey, 24, originally entered the NFL as an undrafted free agent in 2019. He spent his first three seasons with the New Orleans Saints, regularly moving between the club’s practice squad and active roster. In total, he appeared in a combined 20 regular season and playoff games, catching 17 passes for 309 yards and three touchdowns.
However, the Saints did not re-sign him in restricted free agency earlier this year. He eventually joined the Patriots three months later.
Despite his late arrival, the 6-foot-4, 225-pound receiver made an immediate impact on the team — at least in preseason: appearing in all three of New England’s exhibition games, Humphrey caught a team-high 13 passes for 140 yards and a touchdown. His productivity was not the only reason he appeared to be a dark-horse roster candidate.
The Patriots also lost second-round rookie Tyquan Thornton to a collarbone injury in the second preseason game against the Carolina Panthers, and will miss him for the first few weeks of the season. Additionally, Humphrey’s frame made him a potential candidate to serve as emergency depth at tight end.
“He’s a big kid that is tough and has very good hands and is kind of a big receiver, tight end-ish type of guy, has a good feel, very good instincts in the passing game, handles himself well in the middle of the field with linebackers under him, over him, in between him,” said Patriots head coach Bill Belichick after the Panthers game.
“Kind of does the right thing there and helps the quarterback out and is a big target. He gets some tough yards after the catch. Did a decent job blocking on some of the perimeter plays. He showed up in the kicking game.”
As of now, however, those qualities have not allowed Humphrey to make the roster. He is a realistic candidate to return via the New England practice squad, though, to offer experienced depth behind fellow wideouts Jakobi Meyers, DeVante Parker, Kendrick Bourne, Nelson Agholor, and, once he returns, Thornton.