Kenny Britt is heading back to the open market. The New England Patriots are releasing the veteran wide receiver after just over eight months, as first reported by the NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport. Britt’s agent, Fadde Mikhail, confirmed the news, as did the team in a press release.
Britt, 29, appeared in just three of a possible six games for the 2017 Patriots. He played 40 total snaps and caught two passes on five targets for 23 yards.
The former Titans, Rams, and Browns wideout never practiced in full after suffering a hamstring injury back on June 5, the first day of Patriots mandatory minicamp. For the last several days of open training camp practice, Britt warmed up in full pads and participated in individual drills before spending the rest of practice on the lower conditioning field with other injured players.
For this reason, Britt’s release doesn’t come as much of a shock at this point. Rapoport characterized the news as “a fairly big surprise” because of high expectations after the Patriots picked up his option for 2018. Britt also made some a few big catches down the field from Tom Brady prior to suffering the hamstring injury. The Athletic’s Jeff Howe reported on Tuesday that the injury was a partial tear.
Howe added that the Patriots had offered Britt a contract extension earlier in the summer, which he apparently declined.
That’s how close Britt came to becoming the subject of preseason hype. The big, athletic wideout was showing he still had the physical tools to be a real weapon if he could keep building a connection with Brady – and stay on the field. Britt had injury trouble early in his career, and the bug has bitten him once again.
Patriots WRs: What Now?
Excluding the suspended Julian Edelman and special teams captain Matthew Slater, here’s how the Patriots’ wide receiver depth chart projects ahead of Week 1:
Hogan, Dorsett, and Patterson are virtual locks for the 53-man roster. So it’s likely that McCarron, Berrios, Decker, Lucien, and Turner are all competing for one open spot to start the season.
Betting on who gets that last spot is still a crapshoot. But “safe” money is on McCarron, who’s in his second season in New England, has caught punts in the preseason, and has mixed in with the starters at times during practice. He’s also probably the best bet to replicate Edelman as a true slot receiver.
Berrios remains a strong candidate to pass through waivers and end up on the practice squad. Decker hasn’t consistently caught the ball in his short time with the Patriots to look like he has a real chance to stick. He appears to be thinking too much about being in the right spot. He’s running out of time to be confident within the offense and make plays that prove he belongs.
Lucien remains a deep sleeper candidate after making some plays in the preseason. But he’s still been consistently behind the aforementioned McCarron and Berrios and may not stay unless it’s on the practice squad. Turner has been a long shot the whole time.
Dependability vs. Ability
Brady was asked earlier on Wednesday if he’s concerned that he hasn’t gotten enough reps with Britt before the season. The quarterback echoed Bill Belichick’s mantra that dependability is more important than ability.
“I think it’s just different stages at different times whether it’s Kenny or other players,” said Brady. “You have set-backs with injuries and so forth and you don’t get the work but when you are out there you just try to get up to speed as best you can, so spending extra time when you’re available, I think that’s important. You know, Kenny was here at the end of last year so had a lot of reps with him and hopefully he can make the most of his opportunity.
“I think everyone’s really trying to do that this time of year, is whatever chance they get, you got to go out there and you got to show something. You got to really show the coaches, to the personnel people, that you can be dependable and trusted and you can get out there and make the plays that are going to help us win.”
Britt could’ve helped them win if he could be counted on to be active on Sundays. He never appeared close to proving that once he pulled up with the hamstring.
— By Matt Dolloff, 985TheSportsHub.com
Matt Dolloff is a digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff or email him at email@example.com.