Patriots release former first-round pick Dominique Easley


Dominique Easley has been released by the Patriots.

A first-round pick in 2014, the defensive tackle came to the league dogged by injury concerns and his first two seasons in the NFL ended on injured reserve.

The No. 29 overall pick out of the University of Florida, Easley only played three games in his final season with the Gators because of a torn right ACL. He tore his left ACL earlier in his college career. 

Easley, 24, was having a productive 2015 season with the Patriots as a penetrating pass rusher before a quadriceps injury suffered against the Texans in Week 14 again landed him on injured reserve. The quad was a new wrinkle given that Easley's 2014 season was cut short by a knee injury. 

It was a definite dice-roll by the Patriots when they selected Easley. There was near-unianimous agreement that he had top-10 talent were it not for the injuries, but the injuries are seemingly more of a pattern than isolated incidents. 

Easley's release is the latest move that has altered the look of the Patriots defensive line this offseason. The team traded defensive end Chandler Jones to the Cardinals in exchange for a second-round pick and guard Jonathan Cooper back in March. The Patriots also lost defensive lineman Akiem Hicks to free agency when he signed with the Bears. Free-agent defensive end Chris Long and free-agent defensive tackle Terrance Knighton were added to the Patriots front this offseason. 

The depth chart on the interior of the Patriots defensive line now includes Knighton, Malcom Brown, Alan Branch, Chris Jones, Markus Kuhn, Ishmaa'ily Kitchen and Joe Vellano.

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