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Patriots reach the 53-man roster limit

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. - The New England Patriots announced today that they have released 20 players to reach the NFL-mandatory 53-man limit.

The Patriots released 10 veteran players: OL Chris Barker, WR Aaron Dobson, RB Tyler Gaffney, DL Geneo Grissom, LB Rufus Johnson, DL Markus Kuhn, WR Keshawn Martin, DB Darryl Roberts, DB Vinnie Sunseri and DL Joe Vellano.

The Patriots released five first-year players: WR DeAndre Carter, OL Jon Halapio, WR Chris Harper, RB Joey Iosefa and LB Kevin Snyder.

The Patriots released five rookies, including two 2016 Draft picks: DL Woodrow Hamilton, LB Kamu Grugier-Hill, CB Cre’von LeBlanc, WR Devin Lucien and TE Bryce Williams.

VETERAN PLAYERS RELEASED

Barker, 26, originally joined the Patriots when he was claimed off waivers from Miami on Sept. 1, 2013. The 6-foot-2, 275-pounder, entered the NFL as a rookie free agent with Miami out of Nevada on May 3, 2013. He played in four games as a rookie in 2013 with the Patriots. He has spent the majority of the last two seasons on the New England practice squad, seeing action in one game in 2014 and one game in 2015.

Dobson, 25, is a veteran of three seasons with the New England Patriots. The 6-foot-3, 205-pounder, originally entered the NFL as a second-round draft pick (59th overall) of the Patriots out of Marshall in the 2013 NFL Draft. Dobson has played in 24 games with 13 starts and has registered 53 receptions for 698 yards with four touchdowns. He has played in one postseason game and has two receptions for 33 yards.

Gaffney, 25, is a veteran of two NFL seasons with New England. The 6-foot, 220-pounder, originally entered the NFL as a sixth-round draft pick (204th overall) by the Carolina Panthers out of Stanford in the 2014 NFL Draft. He suffered an injury in his first NFL training camp while with Carolina and spent the season on injured reserve after being claimed off waivers by the Patriots on July 28, 2014. Gaffney was injured in training camp last year and spent the entire 2015 season on injured reserve.

Grissom, 24, was drafted by the Patriots in the third round (97th overall) of the 2015 NFL Draft out of Oklahoma. The 6-foot-4, 265-pounder, played in 14 games as a rookie last year and finished with five total tackles and one special teams tackle

Johnson, 26, originally was signed by the Patriots as a free agent on Feb. 6, 2015. The 6-foot-5, 280-pounder, played in one game for the Patriots in 2015 and made on tackle before being placed on the Reserve/Non-Football Illness list on Oct. 28. He originally entered the NFL as a sixth-round draft pick by New Orleans out of Tarleton State in the 2013 NFL Draft.  Johnson spent the 2013 regular season on the practice squad before being signed to the 53-man roster for the postseason. He was released at the end of training camp in 2014.

Kuhn, 30, was signed by the Patriots as an unrestricted free agent from the New York Giants on April 7, 2016. The 6-foot-4, 315-pounder, originally entered the NFL as a seventh-round draft pick (239th overall) of the Giants out of North Carolina State in the 2012 NFL Draft. He has played in 39 NFL games with 10 starts and has 48 total tackles, 1½ sacks and two fumble recoveries, one of which was returned 26 yards for a touchdown at Tennessee during the 2014 season.

Martin, 25, was acquired by the New England in a trade with Houston on Sept. 17, 2015. The 5-foot-11, 195-pounder, originally entered the NFL as a fourth-round draft pick (121st overall) by Houston out of Michigan State in the 2012 NFL Draft. Last season with New England, he played in nine games with eight starts and caught 24 passes for 269 yards with two touchdowns. He also returned 10 kicks for 257 yards and eight punts for 92 yards. Martin has played in 57 NFL games with 10 starts and has 62 receptions for 685 yards with five touchdowns, 78 kick returns for 1,964 yards, and 94 punt returns for 858 yards with one touchdown.

Roberts, 25, was drafted by New England in the seventh round (247th overall) of the 2015 NFL Draft out of Marshall. The 6-foot, 190-pounder, suffered an injury in the preseason-opener last season and spent his rookie year on injured reserve.

Sunseri, 22, was signed by the Patriots as a free agent on July 24, 2016. The 6-foot, 210-pounder, originally entered the NFL as a fifth-round draft pick of the New Orleans Saints in the 2014 NFL Draft out of Alabama. He played in nine games as a rookie mostly on special teams, finishing with six special teams tackles and one tackle on defense, Last season, Sunseri, missed the entire season due to injury. He was released by the Saints on April 25, 2016.  

Vellano, 26, originally joined the Patriots as a rookie free agent out of Maryland on May 3, 2013. The 6-foot-2, 300-pounder, made the 53-man roster as a rookie and played in 16 games with eight starts and also played in both postseason games that season. He finished the year with 48 total tackles and two sacks. Vellano began the 2014 season on the 53-man roster and then was part of the practice squad before being re-signed to the 53-man roster in the postseason. He played in five games with one start in the regular season and also saw action in the AFC Championship Game vs. Indianapolis. He finished the 2014 season with six total tackles and one sack.

FIRST-YEAR PLAYERS RELEASED

Carter, 23, was signed by New England to the practice squad on Dec. 15, 2016. The 5-foot-8, 190-pounder, originally entered the NFL as a rookie free agent with Baltimore out of Sacramento State on May 8, 2015. He spent the majority of his rookie season on the Oakland practice squad before being released on Dec. 1 and signing with New England’s practice squad.

Halapio, 25, was signed by the Patriots on July 27, 2016. The 6-foot-2, 320-pounder, was originally drafted by the New England Patriots in the sixth round (179th overall) of the 2014 NFL Draft out of Florida. He was released by the Patriots at the end of training camp and joined the Denver Broncos practice squad for the final weeks of the 2014 season. Halapio was signed by the Arizona Cardinals during the 2015 offseason and was released prior to the start of the regular season. He has not appeared in an NFL game.

Harper, 22, originally was signed by the Patriots as a rookie free agent out of California on May 8, 2015. The 5-foot-11, 185-pounder, spent the majority of his rookie season on the practice squad after making the 53-man roster out of training camp. He appeared in five regular-season games as a reserve, registering one reception for six yards and three punt returns for 17 yards.

Iosefa, 25, originally joined the New England practice squad on Oct. 21, 2015, and had a brief stint on the 53-man roster before returning to the practice squad. The 6-foot, 245-pounder, played in two games and tallied 15 carries for 51 yards. He entered the NFL as a seventh-round draft pick by Tampa Bay (231st overall) out of Hawaii in the 2015 NFL Draft and was released by Tampa Bay on Aug. 30, 2015.

Snyder, 24, was signed to the New England practice squad on Dec. 16, 2015, and then was signed to the 53-man roster for the AFC Championship at Denver (1/24) and was active for the game but did not play. The 6-foot-2, 245-pounder, originally entered the NFL as a rookie free agent with Detroit out of Rutgers on May 7, 2015. He began his rookie season with the Lions on injured reserve before being released. Snyder then spent the last month of the regular season on the San Francisco practice squad before joining the Patriots practice squad.

ROOKIES RELEASED

Hamilton, 23, was signed by the Patriots as a rookie free agent out of Mississippi on May 6, 2016. The 6-foot-3, 315-pounder, played in 47 games with 25 starts at nose tackle for Mississippi and finished with 83 total tackles and three sacks. The 6-foot-3, 319-pounder, played in every game with 12 starts at nose tackle as a senior in 2015.

Grugier-Hill, 21, was selected by the Patriots in the sixth round of the 2016 NFL Draft with the 208th overall selection out of Eastern Illinois. The 6-foot-2, 220-pounder, played in 49 games at linebacker over his four-year career and earned first team Ohio Valley Conference honors as a junior and a senior.

LeBlanc, 22, was signed by the Patriots as a rookie free agent on May 6, 2016 out of Florida Atlantic. The 5-foot-11, 190-pounder, was a four-year contributor to Florida Atlantic’s defense as a cornerback and a kickoff and punt returner. He was named a team captain as a senior in 2015 and was named the team’s Defensive MVP after finishing the year with 43 total tackles and four interceptions.

Lucien, 22, was selected by the Patriots in the seventh round of the 2016 NFL Draft with the 225th overall selection out of Arizona State. The 6-foot-2, 195-pounder, played in 45 games with 20 starts during his college career and recorded 124 receptions for 1,827 yards and 12 touchdowns during his three seasons at UCLA and one season at Arizona State. Lucien was a graduate transfer out of UCLA, who played with Arizona State for his final season.

Williams, 23, was signed by the Patriots as a rookie free agent out of East Carolina on May 6, 2016. The 6-foot-6, 260-pounder, was a walk-on at two college programs, beginning his career at Marshall before transferring to East Carolina.

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