FOXBORO -- The Patriots cut down on their numbers at the receiver position on Wednesday by releasing veteran Nate Washington, Tom E. Curran has reported.
Washington, who will turn 33 later this month, was signed in the offseason to a one-year deal with $60,000 guaranteed. His presence on the roster provided the Patriots with some veteran depth as an outside receiver, but when he vomitted at the end of the team's first training camp practice and then missed several practices thereafter, he had difficulty making up for lost time.
Washington did whatever he could in order to stay involved. Oftentimes he walked in and out of the huddle with teammates even though he would not be involved in the play, and during one practice he ran routes alone on an adjacent field while the Patriots offense went through plays nearby.
The former Steelers, Titans and Texans receiver was eager to prove he had more to give at this late stage of his career. Last season in Houston, in an offense similar to the one in New England, he caught 47 passes for 658 yards and four touchdowns. Prior to last season, during which he played 14 games, Washington had not missed a regular-season game since before the start of the 2006 season.
With Washington no longer a factor in the wide-receiver picture in New England, the Patriots have one less competitor for what appears as though it will be just one or two open roster spots at the position.
At the top of the depth chart Julian Edelman, Danny Amendola, Chris Hogan and Malcolm Mitchell are essentially locks to be included on the final 53-man roster. (Amendola is on the physically unable to perform list at the moment but is progressing toward a return.) Matthew Slater can also be included on that list, though his contributions will come primarily as a special teamer.
That means Keshawn Martin, Aaron Dobson, Chris Harper, DeAndre Carter and Devin Lucien could be competing for just one roster spot.
Washington's release gives that situation a little more clarity, but the overall picture is still a hazy one that may sort itself out over the course of the next two weeks.