Patriots make their first surprise cut with Justin Bethel release

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The New England Patriots are releasing defensive back and core special teams member Justin Bethel, per ESPN’s Field Yates.

It’s the first truly surprising move made by the Patriots ahead of Tuesday’s 53-man roster cut deadline.

Bethel has been with the team since 2019, and his versatility, particularly with his special teams contributions, has consistently earned him a spot on the roster.

But things have obviously changed this season.

Perhaps the sudden emergence of undrafted rookie free agent Brendan Schooler played a role in the Patriots’ decision to move on from Bethel at this point.

It’s also important to keep in mind that Bethel isn’t subject to waivers after being released. So theoretically, he could re-sign with the Patriots at some point.

The opportunity will also be there for him to test the market and sign with another team. There will certainly be interested suitors out there looking to give the veteran special-teamer a new home.

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Story originally appeared on Patriots Wire