The Patriots will be able to add two players to their 90-man roster ahead of next Tuesday’s organized team activities practice.
New England opened two roster spots Friday by releasing undrafted rookie defensive lineman Justus Tavai and finalizing safety Devin McCourty’s retirement.
Tavai’s stay in Foxboro was brief. The younger brother of linebacker Jahlani Tavai joined the Patriots on May 19, two weeks after the team signed its initial UDFA class. The San Diego State product had been competing for a roster spot in a deep New England D-line that returned every contributor from last season.
McCourty announced his retirement back in March, but waiting until Friday to make that move official had financial benefits for the Patriots. Since it was finalized after June 1, New England will absorb $3.5 million in dead money from McCourty’s contract this season and another $6.2 million to 2024. Had his retirement gone through before June 1, all $9.7 million of that dead money would have hit the Patriots’ 2023 cap sheet, limiting their spending potential.
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Jalen Mills, Kyle Dugger, Adrian Phillips, Jabrill Peppers and Joshuah Bledsoe all saw action at McCourty’s old free safety position in Wednesday’s practice. Defensive play-caller Steve Belichick said the team would hold an “open competition” to replace their longtime defensive leader.
Friday’s moves left the Patriots with roughly $13 million in available salary cap space. Time will tell whether they’ll fill their open roster spots with depth players or make a big-splash signing like wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins, to whom they’ve been linked.
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