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Report: Alfonzo Dennard claimed by Cardinals 05.06.15 at 4:57 pm ET
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It didn’t take long for Alfonzo Dennard to find a new team.

According to ESPN’s Field Yates, the former Patriots cornerback has been claimed by the Arizona Cardinals after being released by the Patriots on Tuesday.

After playing 10 and 13 games the first two years of his career respectively, the 2012 seventh round pick played in just six games last year before being played on injured reserve at the end of the year. He appeared to lose the confidence of the coaching staff.

Dennard had off field issues as well. He was arrested for felony assault on a police officer in 2013 and was arrested on suspicion of DUI just a few months later. He served 35 days in jail last March.

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Patriots announce release of CB Alfonzo Dennard, as well as LS Tyler Ott, LB Deontae Skinner 05.05.15 at 4:15 pm ET
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Alfonzo Dennard

Alfonzo Dennard

The Patriots announced Tuesday the have released cornerback Alfonzo Dennard, long snapper Tyler Ott and linebacker Deontae Skinner. Here’s a portion of the statement from the team on the moves.

Dennard, 25, joined the Patriots as a seventh-round draft pick (224th overall) out of Nebraska in 2012. The 5-foot-10, 200-pounder, has played in 29 games with 20 starts over his three seasons with the Patriots and accumulated 92 total tackles, five interceptions for 95 yards with one pick returned for a touchdown and 17 passes defensed. He also started in four postseason games, posting 10 total tackles, two interceptions and one forced fumble. Last season, Dennard was limited to six games with four starts and finished with 15 total tackles and one interception. He was placed on injured reserve on Dec. 27 and missed the postseason. 

Ott, 23, originally signed with the Patriots as a rookie free agent out of Harvard on May 16, 2014, and was released on Aug. 18. The 6-foot-3, 245-pounder, re-signed with the Patriots on March 6, 2015. Ott handled long snapping duties and saw action at tight end during his college career, finishing with 16 receptions for 194 yards and four touchdowns.

Skinner, 24, was originally signed by the Patriots as a rookie free agent out of Mississippi State on May 12, 2014. The 6-foot-2, 250-pounder, was released by the Patriots on Aug. 26 and signed to the practice squad on Sept. 1. He was signed to the 53-man roster from the practice squad on Sept. 13 and played in seven games with one start, accumulating 10 total tackles and three special teams tackles. He was released on Oct. 29 and signed back to the practice squad on Oct. 31. Skinner was released from the practice squad again on Nov. 26 before being re-signed to the practice squad on Dec. 3. 

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After Alfonzo Dennard reportedly expected to be released, resetting Patriots depth chart at cornerback at 1:10 pm ET
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Logan Ryan is one member of the secondary who will be asked to step up in 2015. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Logan Ryan is one member of the secondary who will be asked to step up in 2015. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

This offseason for the Patriots, no position has undergone more upheaval than cornerback. New England has seen Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner depart as free agents, and it has added veteran free agents like Bradley Fletcher, Robert McClain and Chimdi Chekwa.

More change took place on Tuesday, as the Patriots are expected to cut loose Alfonzo Dennard. A seventh-round pick out of Nebraska because of character issues — he was reportedly involved in a fight with a police officer shortly before the 2012 draft. The 5-foot-10, 204-pounder had plenty of positive moments over his first year-plus in New England, starting 16 games in his first two seasons with the club and coming away with four picks and 19 passed defensed in that time.

But he fell off the radar screen toward the end of the 2013 season. Part of it was due to injury issues, as a nagging shoulder problem continued to persist. In addition, he was pushed down the depth chart prior to the 2014 season when the Patriots picked up Revis and Browner in free agency. After a year where he barely saw the field — Pro Football Focus had him for just 241 snaps in 2014 — he was reportedly cut loose on Tuesday.

So where does that leave the New England cornerback situation? Here’s a quick look at the position at this point in the offseason:

Malcolm Butler: While he doesn’t figure to be a starter right out of the gate, the Super Bowl hero will likely play a greater role in 2015 than he did as a rookie last year.

Logan Ryan: Like Butler, it figures to be a big year for the Rutgers product, who will likely be asked to step into a full-time starters’ role for the first time in his professional career. He’s already spent a sizable amount of the offseason working with Will Sullivan, who thinks Ryan could be on the verge of a breakout year.

Kyle Arrington: The slot corner figures to be back in that capacity as the 2015 starter in New England’s base defense.

Bradley Fletcher: Fletcher and Robert McClain are the two newcomers who the Patriots are looking toward for contributions this season. The 6-foot, 200-pound Fletcher, who was a lightning rod in Philly last season, was released by the Eagles and picked up by New England this offseason. The 28-year-old has spent six years in the NFL, and has eight picks and 58 passes defensed.

Robert McClain: The 5-foot-9, 195-pounder is going into his sixth season in the NFL, and has three picks and 21 passes defensed. The former seventh-round pick of the Panthers has had an up-and-down career — he was a key part of an Atlanta secondary that helped the Falcons get all the way to the 2012 NFC title game. But has been relatively uneven since then, although that could have been a part of some overall roster dysfunction in Atlanta.

Chimdi Chekwa: The former Raider inked a new deal with the Patriots this offseason. The 6-foot, 190-pounder out of Ohio State was likely added as a depth signing at corner — his real strength appears to be special teams.

Darryl Roberts, Jimmy Jean: We’ll lump the two rookies in together, at least for now. Roberts was a seventh-round pick who put up eye-popping numbers at Marshall’s pro day, including an impressive 3-cone time. Meanwhile, Jean is a bigger corner who might end up making the switch to safety at the NFL level.

Read More: Alfonzo Dennard, Bradley Fletcher, Chimdi Chekwa, Darryl Roberts
Report: Patriots to release cornerback Alfonzo Dennard at 8:52 am ET
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According to Ian Rapoport of NFL Media, the Patriots are releasing cornerback Alfonzo Dennard.

After playing 10 and 13 games the first two years of his career respectively, the 2012 seventh round pick played in just six games last year before being played on injured reserve at the end of the year. He appeared to lose the confidence of the coaching staff.

Dennard had off field issues as well. He was arrested for felony assault on a police officer in 2013 and was arrested on suspicion of DUI just a few months later. He served 35 days in jail last March.

His cap hit for 2015 was set to be just over $1.5 million.

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Patriots DBs finish spring workouts in Arizona 04.17.15 at 7:55 am ET
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Alfonzo Dennard, Will Sullivan, Devin McCourty, Tavon Wilson and Duron Harmon pose for a picture at Sullivan’s workout facility in Arizona on Thursday. (Photo courtesy Will Sullivan)

Over the last couple of years, a handful of Patriots’ defensive backs have made the trek out to Arizona to work with Will Sullivan, who has collaborated on training schedules for several NFL players over the course of the offseason, including Darrelle Revis.

Sullivan’s work with several members of the New England secondary has been well-documented in stories here and here, and he texted over a photo on Thursday night of many of the Patriots who have been with him in at his facility in Arizona. It’s a group that includes cornerback Alfonzo Dennard and safeties Devin McCourty, Tavon Wilson and Duron Harmon. (Cornerback Logan Ryan had worked with Sullivan earlier in the offseason.) With the Patriots set to begin their offseason workouts at Gillette next week, the group said farewell to Sullivan (for now) on Thursday night with the group shot.

Read More: Alfonzo Dennard, Devin McCourty, Duron Harmon, Tavon Wilson
Forgotten 5: Quintet missed end of 2014 season but could play larger role for Patriots in 2015 03.04.15 at 12:49 am ET
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Aaron Dobson is working to be part of the mix in 2015. (Getty Images)

Aaron Dobson is working to be part of the mix in 2015. (Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

While everyone is familiar with the season-ending injuries to starters like linebacker Jerod Mayo and running back Stevan Ridley, there were others who also who saw their 2014 season come to a premature end because of injury. While the five players we have listed below might not be considered elite-level talent, they’re still part of the franchise as of this writing, and depending on their health and contract situation, their status could tell us a lot about how the team decides to proceed in free agency and the draft.

Wide receiver Aaron Dobson – According to a report from the Boston Herald, the receiver is spending time working at the Fischer Institute in Phoenix this offseason while re-dedicating himself to the game. The Marshall product followed up one of the best rookie seasons any receiver has ever had with Tom Brady (37 catches, 519 yards, 4 TDs) with just three catches for 38 yards this past year, eventually landing on injured reserve after injuring his hamstring in Week 13. It was essentially a lost year for Dobson, who had foot surgery in March and didn’t get on the field until mid-August. By that point, he had already lost valuable time, missing out on key spring workouts. It’s a key offseason for Dobson — he won’t turn 24 until June, but has to be aware that he needs to have a good stretch if he wants to gain some traction in the New England offense.

Cornerback Alfonzo Dennard – Bumped down the food chain because of the offseason pickups of Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner (it’s hard to remember, but after Aqib Talib went down with an injury early in the 2013 AFC title game, Dennard was New England’s No. 1 corner), it was mostly a lost season for the 25-year-old. Like Dobson, he initially battled a shoulder injury, but there were times when he was healthy and he was still a scratch. The 5-foot-10, 200-pounder played in just six games (four starts) before going on injured reserve in December. It represented a career low-point for the Nebraska corner, who had just 15 tackles, one pick and one pass defense in 2014, a dropoff from 40 tackles, one interception and eight passes defensed in 2013. While the Patriots’ secondary is a bit of a fluid situation at this point, many critics believe that he could be a candidate to have his deal re-done in the offseason, or even cut loose depending on what happens with Revis and/or Browner.

Running back Tyler Gaffney – The former Stanford Cardinal was swiped off waivers by the Patriots last summer, and while the former sixth-round pick spent the year on injured reserve because of knee surgery, it will be intriguing what sort of role the Patriots could have in store for him in 2015. Gaffney, who will turn 24 next month, ran for 2,500 yards in four seasons as a collegian, including 1,709 in 2013. That stat line included 330 carries, a 5.2 yards per carry average and a whopping 21 touchdowns. While he’s more of a traditional between-the-tackles back, the 6-foo0t-1, 221-pounder does have some value in the passing game as well, having caught 32 passes (including 15 as a senior) for 264 yards. With the New England backfield in a state of flux, if he’s healthy, Gaffney could see significant reps for the Patriots this year. He’ll certainly be a player of interest when spring camps start up.

Defensive end Michael Buchanan – The 6-foot-6, 255-pounder played in just three games in 2014 before seeing his season come to a premature end. As a rookie in 2013, he wasn’t an overwhelming presence off the edge, but he did have two sacks, and at times, appeared to be trending in the right direction. If he had been healthy, it would have been debatable how much New England would have needed to acquire someone like Akeem Ayers midway through the season. The 24-year-old, who was a seventh round pick in 2013 out of Illinois, was placed on injured reserve in October. This year, he’ll likely face a battle for playing time as a backup edge rusher with the likes of Zach Moore and Ayers, if the latter doesn’t depart as a free agent.

Linebacker James Morris – The Iowa product was on and off the roster last year, signing as an underrated free agent in the spring before being release in May and brought back in June. He was placed on injured reserve at the end of the summer, and could play a role when it comes to working as a backup inside linebacker/special teamer in 2015. (Technically, Morris will be an exclusive rights free agent when free agency begins next week, which basically means that if he wants to play in the NFL next season, he has to sign with the Patriots.) The 23-year-old was just the sixth player in Iowa history to record 400 career tackles after finishing with 400 tackles, 10 1/2 sacks and six interceptions as a three-year starter. The 6-foot-2, 240-pounder was named a team captain in 2013 and started in all 13 games and finished second on the team with 107 total tackles, eight sacks and four interceptions.

Read More: Aaron Dobson, Alfonzo Dennard, James Morris, Michael Buchanan
Patriots position-by-position breakdown: Cornerback 02.16.15 at 7:00 am ET
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Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner changed the look of the Patriots secondary. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner changed the look of the Patriots secondary. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

With the Patriots done for the season, we’ve got an end-of-the-year position-by-position breakdown of where the Patriots stand. We’ve looked at special teams, wide receivers, running backs, tight ends, quarterback, offensive line and safety. Now, it’€™s the cornerback position.

Depth chart (regular-season stats via coaches film review): Darrelle Revis (49 tackles, 2 INTs, 14 passes defensed, 1 forced fumble recovery), Brandon Browner (26 tackles, 1 INT, 6 passes defensed), Kyle Arrington (33 tackles, 1 sack, 4 passes defensed, 2 forced fumbles), Malcolm Butler (14 tackles, 4 passes defensed), Alfonzo Dennard (15 tackles, 1 INT, 1 pass defensed), 1 fumble recovery), Logan Ryan (36 tackles, 2 INTs, 6 passes defensed, 1 forced fumble)

Overview: In much the same fashion the Patriots underwent an Extreme Makeover at wide receiver at the end of the 2006 season, they did the same thing at cornerback this past offseason. While the overhaul at wide receiver prior to 2007 wasn’€™t enough to get them over the top, it was just enough this time around, as the New England secondary was a difference-maker throughout the season and into the playoffs.

While Browner was sidelined for the first four games because of a suspension for a 2013 violation of the NFL’€™s substance abuse policy, the impact was immediate, as second level corners like Dennard were immediately pushed down the depth chart in favor of top-shelf talent like Revis and Browner, and teams that had feasted on the New England corners in previous years were shut down across the board. While there was a mixture of man and zone over the course of the season, Revis was able to lock down most of the No. 1 receivers he ended up going head-to-head with, while Browner was a versatile and feisty presence who worked equally well against bigger targets, which included receivers and tight ends.

For the most part, the rest of the corners were able to fill in nicely around Revis and Browner: Arrington was a quality presence in the slot for most of the season, while Butler provided nice depth, eventually emerging on the biggest stage against the Seahawks in the title game. (More on that shortly.) Ryan occasionally struggled in coverage, and teams started to understand that if you had a deep passing game and wanted to test the Patriots, you stayed as far away as possible from Revis and Browner. Meanwhile, Dennard was an afterthought, struggling with injury for most of the year before going on season-ending injured reserve in December.

Going forward, the whole offseason starts with Revis: he is technically under contract for 2015, but his cap hit is so enormous it’€™s debatable as to whether or not the Patriots can think about bringing him back at that total. Presuming he finds a way to stick around –€” from this viewpoint, he’€™ll be around for at least one more season –€” that would allow the rest of the corners to slot neatly into place for another season. Browner, Butler, Ryan and Arrington are all under contract for 2015, while Dennard now likely faces an uphill battle for playing time against a Super Bowl hero in Butler. He could end up being cut somewhere down the line if the roster numbers don’€™t add up or if the Patriots try and add to their depth at the position either in free agency or the draft.

Best moment: Prior to Super Bowl XLIX, there were a ton of memorable performances by the New England cornerbacks, including the work that Revis did against a several of high-profile receivers, including A.J. Green and Sammy Watkins. (There was also the high-energy jolt of Browner, who played with an edge and made plenty of receivers think twice when it came to going over the middle.) But you’€™d be foolish not to pinpoint the performance of Butler at the end of the Super Bowl, jumping the route and picking off the Russell Wilson pass for Ricardo Lockette. It was a great play on several levels, but maybe the most impressive things about Butler’€™s execution was the fact that he was beaten on the play the week before in practice by the scout team duo of Jimmy Garoppolo and Josh Boyce. When the play happened in the Super Bowl, he was able to recognize what happened and make the biggest play of his career.

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