Patriots News: DE Adrian Clayborn Released by NE After 1 Season

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistMarch 15, 2019

BUFFALO, NY - OCTOBER 29: Adrian Clayborn #94 of the New England Patriots during NFL game action against the Buffalo Bills at New Era Field on October 29, 2018 in Buffalo, New York. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)
Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images

The New England Patriots released defensive end Adrian Clayborn on Friday.

Clayborn took to Twitter to thank the Pats for his tenure, as well as for granting him his release:

Adrian Clayborn @AJaClay

Thank you @Patriots for my time with the organization. I gained so much respect for how you do things and win championships. It’s done the right way through hard work. Thank you for granting my release. I’m ready for this next chapter.

ESPN's Mike Reiss noted that Clayborn did not have a significant role on the New England defense last season despite registering a career-high 9.5 sacks with the Atlanta Falcons the previous season:

Mike Reiss @MikeReiss

DE Adrian Clayborn was set to count $5.9m on Patriots' salary cap in 2019. Primary role with Patriots was as rusher in obvious passing situations. Played 30 percent of defensive snaps in 14 regular-season games (healthy scratch in final two games).

Clayborn signed a two-year, $10 million deal with the Patriots last offseason, and Reiss added that he would have counted for $5.9 million against the salary cap in 2019 had New England kept him.

Per Jeff Howe of The Athletic, the Pats will save nearly $4 million in cap space by cutting ties with Clayborn.

In his only season with the Patriots, Clayborn appeared in 14 games and made just one start. He finished with 11 tackles, 2.5 sacks and one forced fumble, which marked his least productive season since missing all but one game in 2014 with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

While the 30-year-old veteran didn't provide much of a spark last season, he did have one sack during the Pats' playoff run and hit Los Angeles Rams quarterback Jared Goff with a good shot in New England's Super Bowl LIII victory:

Michael Hurley @michaelFhurley

Adrian Clayborn never did make the impact the Patriots probably hoped he would make. But he did smush Jared Goff on the Rams' first third down of SB53. It was a good smushing. https://t.co/VHk7BW25bE

After New England acquired defensive end Michael Bennett from the Philadelphia Eagles in a trade this offseason, Clayborn became expendable.

Clayborn was selected with the No. 20 overall pick in the 2011 NFL draft out of Iowa by the Buccaneers. After four years in Tampa, Clayborn joined the Falcons in 2015.

He enjoyed his best season to date in 2017 with 21 tackles, 9.5 sacks, two forced fumbles, one fumble returned for a touchdown and 17 quarterback hits.

Despite his struggles last season, Clayborn could emerge as a good value signing for a team in need of some pass-rushing help.

Many of the best pass-rushers on the open market have been scooped up, which makes Clayborn a more attractive option than he may have been earlier in free agency. Aside from Ezekiel Ansah, Justin Houston, Clay Matthews and Shaquil Barrett, Clayborn may be the best edge-rusher available.