The Patriots are releasing Mohamed Sanu with just a week remaining in the coronavirus-shortened preseason.
The veteran wideout — who was carrying the team’s fifth highest salary cap liability in 2020 — was informed of the decision on Wednesday evening.
Sanu, 31, was brought into New England midseason last year by way of Atlanta to aid a frustratingly inert offense after the Antonio Brown drama unfolded. The trade cost the Patriots a 2020 second-round pick and a $3.8 million cap hit in 2019.
But in a rare Bill Belichick misstep, the Rutgers product failed to provide the explosiveness that the Patriots so desperately needed last season and struggled to fit into their scheme.
“I was out there, so I was doing what I was supposed to do: Play,” he said dismissively of his performance last season, via The Boston Globe. “I’m not focused on that anymore. I’m focused on this year.”
Sanu had also been hampered with injuries and began the preseason on the physically unable to perform list after offseason ankle surgery. If he made the 53-man roster, he was expected to be the team’s fourth receiver behind Julian Edelman, N’Keal Harry and Damiere Byrd.
His release saves the team from a $6.5 million cap hit this year (no dead cap hit) and will take effect on Thursday at 4 p.m. The Patriots now have just shy of $37.1 million in cap space, per Patriots salary-cap tracker Miguel Benzan. This means they could be in the market to add receiving depth to help out newly acquired starting quarterback Cam Newton immediately.
Alternatively, the Patriots could instead elect to roll over the cap space surplus into the 2021 season amid the uncertainty of next year’s cap total, which could decrease in light of shrinking revenues this year.
Sanu will be on the market for a new team. The 6-foot-2, 210-pound has accrued 403 career catches for 4,507 yards and 26 touchdowns since entering the league as the Bengals’ 2012 third-round pick.