3:11pm: Easley’s knees are in “pretty bad shape,” a source tells Jeff Howe of the Boston Herald (Twitter link). Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com adds (via Twitter) that off-field issues factored into the Patriots’ decision to part ways with Easley.
2:57pm: As the Patriots prepare to enter the 2016 draft as the only NFL team without a first-round pick, the Pats have removed their 2014 first-round pick from their roster. According to Tom Curran of CSNNE.com, defensive lineman Dominique Easley has been waived by New England.
Easley, 24, was selected 29th overall in the 2014 draft by the Patriots, despite the fact that he was recovering from a torn ACL at the time. Although he made it back to the field for his rookie season, he was limited to just 11 games, and played in only 11 more in 2015, having been plagued by hip, knee, and ankle issues.
Before he landed on injured reserve in December of 2015, Easley picked up 15 tackles and two sacks in his sophomore NFL season, and received a solid Pro Football Focus grade. Given his decent play when he was healthy, his first-round pedigree, and the fact that he still has guaranteed money remaining on his contract, Easley’s release comes as a bit of a surprise, despite his injury woes.
Teams will have the opportunity to roll the dice on Easley and place a waiver claim on him before he becomes a free agent — a club that claims him off waivers would assume the final two years of his rookie contract. If Easley goes unclaimed, he would count for about $2.9MM against the Patriots’ cap in 2016, which is about $900K more than his cap hit would have been if he had remained on the team’s roster.
A Monday report indicated that Easley had hired agents Drew Rosenhaus and Michael Katz of Rosenhaus Sports for representation, so it’s possible that he was aware of the Patriots’ decision well before today and was preparing for the possibility of hitting the open market.
Easley is the second 2014 first-rounder to be cut by his team this offseason. The other, of course, was former Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel.
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