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Report: Patriots cut defensive end Jermaine Cunningham

08.31.13 at 10:39 am ET
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Jermaine Cunningham

Jermaine Cunningham

The Patriots have released defensive end Jermaine Cunningham, according to Pro Football Talk. The Florida product, who was a second-round pick of New England in 2010, had 59 tackles and 3.5 sacks with the Patriots in three seasons. The 6-foot-3, 255-pounder, who was suspended for PEDs for four games in 2012, has his best year with New England last season when he had 2.5 sacks and 24 tackles (16 solo) in 12 games (three starts).

The release of Cunningham brings his journey with Bill Belichick to an apparent end. In a conversation with WEEI in 2011, former Florida coach Urban Meyer recounted the tale of Belichick and Cunningham — it appears that the New England coach fell for Cunningham as a collegian.

“That started his sophomore year,” Meyer said of Belichick’s interest in Cunningham. “Coach Belichick would always come down and watch film and I’d sometimes sit in there and he would keep asking about [Jermaine]: ‘Who’s this guy? Who’s this guy? Who’s this guy?’ And you had Derrick Harvey, you had Jarvis Moss, Carlos Dunlap, and then Jermaine was kind of the next guy, but he would always say ‘Who is that guy? I love that guy.’

“Bill Belichick’s the one who saw a lot in him.”

With the Patriots deciding to release Cunningham and defensive end Marcus Benard (who was cut on Friday), youngsters Jake Bequette, Mike Buchanan and Justin Francis appear to be the favorites when it comes to finding backups to starters Chandler Jones and Rob Ninkovich.

For more Patriots news, check out weei.com/patriots.

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