Reports: Patriots releasing WR Demaryius Thomas, but quick return is possible

Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY

By Matt Dolloff, 985TheSportsHub.com

The Patriots had at least one more surprise move in them on cutdown day. Ian Rapoport first reported on Saturday that they're releasing wide receiver Demaryius Thomas.

It's a stunning move at this juncture, especially considering Thomas' strong performance in Thursday's preseason finale. The veteran wideout caught seven passes for 87 yards and two touchdowns, looking fully back from an Achilles injury that kept him out of full practice participation for most of the summer.

The idea was, if the Patriots intended to release Thomas, that it would've happened sooner so he could get a chance to sign with a new team. That can still happen for the 31-year-old.

It's also possible that the two sides have an agreement in place to bring Thomas back after moving a player on the initial 53-man roster to injured reserve with a designation to return. Mike Giardi of the NFL Network reported that this appears to be the plan. The Pats have already placed center David Andrews and defensive end Derek Rivers on IR, ending their seasons. Rookie offensive linemen Hjalte Froholdt and Yodny Cajuste are two candidates to make the 53-man roster then move to short-term IR.

Aug 29, 2019; Foxborough, MA: New England Patriots wide receiver Demaryius Thomas carries the ball for yards during the first half against the New York Giants at Gillette Stadium. (Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports)
Aug 29, 2019; Foxborough, MA: New England Patriots wide receiver Demaryius Thomas carries the ball for yards during the first half against the New York Giants at Gillette Stadium. (Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports)

Assuming Thomas doesn't come back, here's what the Patriots receiver depth chart looks like as of this writing:

Julian Edelman
Phillip Dorsett
Josh Gordon
N'Keal Harry
Jakobi Meyers
Gunner Olszewski

After a very strong preseason, Olszewski really shook things up at both receiver and cornerback. The team's trade of Keion Crossen to the Texans opened up a spot for Olszewski, who was previously informed of his release. Assuming he counts as a WR, the team was likely to make a surprise cut.

For now, it looks like Thomas is that cut and his strong preseason finale was just a mirage. But situations are fluid on cutdown day with the possibilities for teams to move players to IR. It will be interesting to watch what happens with both him and quarterback Brian Hoyer, who is drawing interest from the Broncos after being released.

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 protected].