With Kyle Van Noy's release coming down on Monday, there are a couple of immediate and obvious reactions.
Takeaway No. 1: This creates some cap space.
The Patriots will save over $4 million on their salary cap by not having Van Noy on their roster. For a team that was near the bottom of the NFL in available cap space headed into the week, a few million is significant.
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The Patriots still don't have enough to, for instance, carry J.C. Jackson on the cornerback franchise tag for more than $17 million. But to be up over $10 million in cap space now gives them the flexibility to make some minor moves and retain some of their own impending free agents.
In all likelihood, there will be more moves coming to help the Patriots create some space. We laid out a variety of potential moves -- including Van Noy's release -- here. The Patriots could create more space to hold onto Jackson, but outside of the 25-year-old corner I don't anticipate the Patriots will be in on top-tier free agents available this offseason.
Takeaway No. 2: Time for young Patriots edge defenders to step up.
Van Noy was one of the team's starting outside linebackers in 2021, often aligning across from Matthew Judon. He played 480 snaps on the edge last season. The Patriots often use Deatrich Wise on the edge as more of a traditional defensive end in sub packages, but the other outside linebacker options on the roster (outside of Judon) currently include Josh Uche, Chase Winovich, Anfernee Jennings and Ronnie Perkins.
Uche, a second-round pick in 2020, was the most highly-touted of the group upon entering the league. He played in 12 games last season and has started in one over the last two seasons.
Winovich, a third-rounder in 2019, started nine games two seasons ago but did not start any of the 13 games in which he played last year. He's become a special-teams staple and a seldom-used role player defensively (11 tackles in 2021).
Jennings, a third-rounder in 2020, missed last season on injured reserve. He played both on the edge and off the line -- as Van Noy often did -- as a rookie, recording 20 tackles and one quarterback hit in 14 games.
Perkins, a third-rounder last year, took what's commonly referred to as a "red-shirt" season in Foxboro as a rookie. He did not see game action.
There is not an obvious choice currently on the roster to take over Van Noy's role. The same would be true for the roles of Dont'a Hightower, Ja'Whaun Bentley and Jamie Collins -- all of whom are scheduled to hit unrestricted free agency this offseason. The Patriots could experience massive turnover at the inside and outside linebacker positions this offseason. Fortunately for them, if they want to find reserves in the draft, this is an extremely deep class of edge defenders.
The Patriots lost one of their best, most experienced and most versatile players in releasing Van Noy on Monday. Time for someone else to step up.