The New England Patriots released Will Hastings on Sunday, but the undrafted rookie wide receiver was not gone for long.
Hastings re-signed with the Patriots on Monday, according to a report from The Boston Globe’s Jim McBride. His return came after fullback Danny Vitale and guard Najee Toran opted out of the 2020 season due to coronavirus concerns, opening two spots on New England’s 80-man roster.
Hastings is a close friend and former teammate of Patriots quarterback Jarrett Stidham. The two played together at Auburn, connecting on 26 receptions for 525 yards and four touchdowns in 2017.
After missing the 2018 season — Stidham’s last with the Tigers — with a torn ACL, Hastings returned to catch 19 passes for 222 yards and one score in 2019. The undrafted slot receiver lacks ideal size (5-foot-10, 174 pounds), but showcased top-tier quickness at Auburn’s pro day, running the three-cone drill in 6.55 seconds and the short shuttle in 4.03 seconds.
“Will’s a real special talent,” Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn told NESN.com’s Doug Kyed in May. “He’s really fast, but he is the quickest guy that we’ve had come through our school. That’s all you need (to know). We’ve had some good athletes come through here, but he’s got something to him. ? He’s a great double move guy too. He’s one of the best double move guys we’ve had come through here too.”
The Patriots initially cut Hastings along with six other undrafted rookies and two second-year pros to trim their roster from 90 players to 80. UDFA receivers Isaiah Zuber and Sean Riley also were let go during that purge.
Hastings and fellow UDFA Jeff Thomas will compete for roster spots with the likes of Damiere Byrd, Marqise Lee, Jakobi Meyers, Gunner Olszewski, Quincy Adeboyejo and Devin Ross. Julian Edelman, Mohamed Sanu and 2019 first-round draft pick N’Keal Harry headline New England’s receiving corps.