The Patriots have cut bait with a former first-round pick. According to ESPN’s Field Yates (via Twitter), the team has released offensive guard Jonathan Cooper. No corresponding move has been announced, but Jeff Howe of the Boston Herald tweets that the Patriots have promoted defensive tackle Woodrow Hamilton to the active roster.
Cooper, the seventh-overall pick in the 2013 draft, was acquired by the Patriots this offseason (along with a second-round pick) in exchange for linebacker Chandler Jones. After having started 11 of his 24 career games in Arizona, the 26-year-old was expected to slide in as the Patriots’ starting right guard. However, the guard suffered a foot injury early in camp and had yet to see the field for the Patriots this season. The team has relied on Shaq Mason and Ted Karras at the right guard spot, and coach Bill Belichick apparently saw enough to make Cooper expendable. Cooper’s $2.39MM base salary was fully guaranteed for this season.
The Patriots ultimately traded Arizona’s second-round pick for a pair of picks. As it currently stands, the team swapped Jones for rookie lineman Joe Thuney and rookie wideout Malcolm Mitchell. Jeff Howe notes that the Patriots weren’t going to re-sign Jones, and Cooper was a throw-in to the initial deal, anyway. Furthermore, the move allowed the Patriots to sign veteran Chris Long, who has had a bounce-back season so far in 2016.
Hamilton, an undrafted rookie out of Mississippi, should provide depth to a banged-up defensive line. Back-up defensive tackle Vincent Valentine may miss this weekend’s game with a back injury, and the Patriots needed some insurance for starters Malcom Brown and Alan Branch. As a senior, Hamilton compiled 30 tackles and one sack.