Patriots Release 2020 NFL Draft Bust

Getty Justin Rohrwasser

The New England Patriots have started making room for their new acquisitions with some much-needed releases. Chief among the first wave of cuts was the release of the 2020 fifth-round selection Justin Rohrwasser.

The Patriots selected the power-legged kicker to replace the legendary Stephen Gostkowski last season, but injuries and erratic training camp performance kept him from ever being activated in 2020. Meanwhile, veteran kicker Nick Folk, whom the team just re-signed, had a fantastic year. Another veteran, Roberto Aguayo, was signed to the practice squad late last season, which meant the writing was on the wall for Rohrwasser.

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It remains to be seen if another team will give Rohrwasser a chance to show them what he couldn’t in New England. He has a strong leg, and perhaps he just needed some time to get healthy and find his confidence.

Bill Belichick handed the walking papers to two other second-year players on Tuesday as well.

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Cassh Maluia Released

The Patriots added a ton of depth to their linebacker group, which led to player releases at the position. Maluia was drafted in the sixth round, just after Rohrwasser in 2020. The Compton, California native showed some flashes of perhaps being able to make an impact, but apparently, he wasn’t making progress quickly enough.

Maluia did manage to appear in nine games. He mostly played on special teams and didn’t record a tackle. Speed and aggressiveness are his best traits, so he would seemingly have a chance to catch on elsewhere. We’ll see if he surfaces for another NFL team ahead of the 2021 season.

Michael Pinckney Released

The Patriots signed Pinckney to the practice squad last season. However, he was suspended six games for violating the league’s performance-enhancing drug policy. The Patriots signed him to a futures deal. Still, after adding Raekwon McMillan, Kyle Van Noy, and with Dont’a Hightower returning from COVID-19 opt-out, the Patriots’ linebacker position has gone from thin to stacked.

Unfortunately for Pinckney and Maluia, they wound up on the outside looking in. Will the Patriots draft any linebackers or kickers in the 2021 NFL Draft? It’s safe to say they probably won’t draft a kicker, though they may invite an undrafted free agent to camp. It would be a shock to see Belichick spend a draft pick on a kicker in consecutive seasons.

As for linebacker, the acquisitions might eliminate the position from consideration in the first round, but there is still a strong likelihood Belichick sees either a pass rusher or versatile inside guy that he likes. Tulsa’s Zaven Collins has drawn some comparisons to Chicago Bears great Brian Urlacher.

New England would need to tab him in the first round, which might throw a monkey wrench in some other plans. Keep an eye out for more moves leading up to the draft on April 29 as we traverse through the quieter weeks of NFL free agency.

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