The New England Patriots made a very surprising move yesterday when they released Justin Francis, and new information has shed some light on the reasons for the release. According to MassLive.com’s Nick Underhill, Francis suffered a high ankle sprain and would revert to the injured reserve if he clears waivers. However, Francis has no intention of hitting the IR and would like to receive an injury settlement from the New England Patriots in order to sign on to another team, so we’ll see if Francis is able to get his wish.
I was extremely surprised when the Patriots released Francis, because the move left them thin at defensive end with just Michael Buchanan and Jake Bequette as backups. Both players are still raw, and only Buchanan has shown up well this preseason. I was upset at the release of a quality backup defensive end, but we now know that there was much more than meets the eye. So yeah, I was wrong in calling the release of Francis a “poor decision”, but that’s what it looked like at the time.
Francis isn’t the only player on the Patriots to be released with an injury designation (meaning that the player would revert to IR if he clears waivers). The Patriots also cut Jermaine Cunningham and Chris McDonald under that designation, so we’ll see if either of those players are claimed. I doubt McDonald ends up getting claimed, but I’m sure that Cunningham will be.