UPDATE (6:07 p.m. ET): The New England Patriots officially have released defensive end Cassius Marsh and signed defensive end Eric Lee off the Buffalo Bills practice squad.
ORIGINAL STORY: The New England Patriots made a surprising change to their front seven Tuesday, reportedly releasing defensive end Cassius Marsh.
ESPN’s Field Yates was the first to report Marsh’s release, citing a source.
The Patriots traded a fifth- and a seventh-round draft pick to the Seattle Seahawks to acquire Marsh on cutdown day, and he had carved out a significant role on New England’s defense. He played upward of 50 percent of defensive snaps in four consecutive games before the Patriots’ bye, providing depth on the edge in the wake of Dont’a Hightower’s season-ending injury.
Marsh missed last week’s game against the Denver Broncos with a shoulder injury, though, and played just two defensive snaps in Sunday’s win over the Oakland Raiders. The Raiders ran to his side on both of those snaps, resulting in gains of 25 and 7 yards. Setting the edge had been an issue for the 25-year-old all season.
All told, Marsh played in nine games for the Patriots, starting one and tallying 19 tackles, one sack and one forced fumble. He also blocked one field goal.
Marsh thanked the Patriots in a tweet shortly after news of his release broke.
The Patriots filled Marsh’s roster spot by signing defensive end Eric Lee off the Buffalo Bills’ practice squad, per Yates’ source. Lee, who initially signed with the Houston Texans last year as an undrafted free agent out of South Florida, has yet to make his regular-season NFL debut.