This offseason the New England Patriots spent money and draft picks revamping a defense that ranked 31st against the pass last season. One of the key additions was former Bengal defensive lineman Jonathan Fanene. The Patriots signed the 30-year-old to a 3 year contract just north of 12 million dollars with a 3.85 million dollar signing bonus. In what would be a surprise in other NFL cities Fanene was cut today. Bill Belichick cut ties today with the prize free agent saying it just didn’t work out.
News around the web is that Fanene is dealing with inflammation possibly arthritis in his knee. He had missed the last 13 camp practices.
Fanene’s departure leaves the Patriots with Vince Wilfork, Kyle Love, Ron Brace and Brandon Deaderick at the DT position. Wilfork we all know is a lock to start and if you have ever read any of my twitter posts you will know my feelings on Kyle Love. I have been singing the praises of the former undrafted player out of Mississippi State since mid-way through last season.
At 6’1″ and 310 pounds Love has been a terror next to Wilfork. His play last year at nose tackle in the Pats then 3-4 scheme aloud Wilfork to move to DE in some key situations. Love’s pressure up the middle last night caused Michael Vick to scramble around and take the big hit from Jermaine Cunningham that knocked Vick out of the game.
This is also big news for 4th year player Ron Brace. Brace was chosen in the second round out of Boston College 40th overall. He has talent as he was a second team all ACC DT for BC. Brace’s problem has been staying healthy as he started camp on the PUP list last season and had a slow start this year. This is a contract year for him and he has been showing up in practice while Fanene has been out. He is a big body player at 6′ 3′ and 330 lbs. The Patriots could really use him lined up next to big Vince in short yardage and goal line situations. Brace started last night and played well despite not being on the stat sheet.
The other player I hope this really helps is rookie free agent Justin Francis out of Rutgers. Francis was a big surprise early in camp and has a high motor. Friday nights game will be a chance for him to really show if he has what it takes to make this team or is practice squad material.
The Patriots must cut another 10 players by next Monday to get down to the required 75. Fanene was the first big name to fall but others could follow as New England has plenty of talent that could be cut especially at the wide receiver and defensive end position.
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