Patriots receiver Brandon Tate has been told by the Patriots that the club plans to release him by today's deadline.
A third-round draft choice in 2009, Tate served as the Patriots No. 3 receiver last year and finished with 24 receptions. He was also the team's top kickoff returner, and had two returns for touchdowns in the first four weeks of last season.
A combination of factors lessened his value to the Patriots this year.
First, the club acquired veteran receiver Chad Ochocinco, which bumped Tate down the depth chart behind Ochocinco, Wes Welker and Deion Branch. Tate was also outplayed by Taylor Price, Julian Edelman (on returns) and Matthew Slater for backup roles.
Second, the NFL altered kickoff rules by moving the ball up 5 yards, which Bill Belichick said would all but eliminate the kickoff return from the game.
With Tate out of the mix, this opens the door for Edelman to possibly double as the team's top kickoff and punt returner.