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The New England Patriots released veteran wide receiver Donald Jones, the team announced Friday.
The move was made, in part, to clear the way for younger receivers to receive more opportunities. That group includes rookie free agent Kenbrell Thompkins, who had a strong spring and was taking first-team repetitions by the end of mandatory minicamp.
The Patriots also drafted Aaron Dobson (second round) and Josh Boyce (fourth round) this year. Jones, formerly of the Buffalo Bills, signed a three-year contract with the Patriots on March 15. The deal didn't include any guaranteed money, but included a $200,000 bonus for reporting to training camp and a $235,000 roster bonus.
Jones set career highs last season with 41 receptions for 443 yards and four touchdowns, but was placed on the non-football injury list in Week 16 with an undisclosed medical issue.
"I'm here working now; I'm healthy," Jones said in May during the Patriots' offseason program. "I work every day with the team doctors here, the team trainers, so I'm healthy enough to be out here and that's really all I pay attention to going forward."
The Patriots have free-agent signee Danny Amendola atop their receiver depth chart, and then some question marks. Fifth-year veteran Julian Edelman is a strong candidate for a top role if he stays healthy, while veteran Michael Jenkins -- signed as a free agent after two years with the Minnesota Vikings -- took the majority of first-team reps on the outside in spring camps.
Jones was part of a second tier of receivers looking to break through, which includes rookies Thompkins, Dobson and Boyce and Mark Harrison, along with former Tennessee Titan Lavelle Hawkins and third-year player Kamar Aiken.
The Patriots also announced they signed wide receivers Perez Ashford and Quentin Sims on Friday.