"Unfortunately, we had to place Josh on injured reserve, which is a tough break for him," Patriots coach Bill Belichick said. "The kid's worked hard and I wished that would have turned out differently for him this year. It is what it is."
The injury further depletes a secondary that has struggled for long stretches this season, the Patriots ranking last in the NFL against the pass.
A four-year veteran, Barrett played in five games this season, missing three with hamstring/thumb injuries. He started four games and seemed to be the player the coaches liked best next to Patrick Chung.
According to ESPNBoston.com charting, Barrett was on the field for 222 of a possible 356 snaps (including penalties) in the five games he played.
The Patriots also made a series of other roster moves on Wednesday. Linebacker Niko Koutouvides was re-signed, while cornerback Sterling Moore was promoted to the 53-man roster from the practice squad.
Koutouvides, 30, was signed by the Patriots on Aug. 14 and released on Sept. 3. Like the signing of wide receiver Tiquan Underwood on Tuesday, Koutouvides figures to boost the Patriots' special teams units, which have struggled this season.
For Moore, it's his second stint on the 53-man roster, having played in the team's Week 6 win over Dallas. The fifth cornerback on the roster, Moore also figures to add a special teams presence.
In addition, the team released cornerback Malcolm Williams from the practice squad. Safety Ross Ventrone and cornerback Josh Victorian were re-signed to the practice squad, while linebacker Mike Rivera also was signed to the practice squad.
Rivera, 25, worked out for the team last month. With Brandon Spikes suffering a knee injury on Sunday and Dane Fletcher out for the past several weeks, Rivera figures to add practice squad depth to the linebacker position.
The moves give the Patriots a full 53-man roster and practice squad.
Chris Forsberg covers the Patriots and Celtics for ESPNBoston.com.