The New England Patriots are releasing veteran linebacker Kyle Van Noy, according to Field Yates of ESPN. This move does seem to be, in part, motivated by the salary cap. By releasing Van Noy, New England clears $5 million in salary cap space as the NFL inches closer to the start of the new league year and the official start of free agency on March 16. The cap savings by moving on from Van Noy nearly doubles the Patriots total space. As for Van Noy, he is now able to sign with a team immediately.
The 30-year-old was playing in his second stint with the Patriots last season after spending the 2020 campaign as a member of the Dolphins. He was released by Miami on March 10 of last year and only took nine days from that release for Van Noy to find his way back to Foxborough, inking a two-year, $13.2 million contract with the Patriots.
In 16 games played in 2021 (eight starts), Van Noy totaled 66 tackles and five sacks, while forcing two fumbles and recording one interception. Van Noy's sacks were second on the team and only looking up to Matt Judon, while his tackles ranked fourth-most on the roster.
Van Noy originally came to the league as a second-round draft choice of the Detroit Lions in 2014. He was then traded to the Patriots amid the 2016 season and it was in New England where he blossomed into an impact player under Bill Belichick. In his first tenure with the team, he helped the Patriots win two Super Bowl titles and reach a third.
Linebacker was already a pressing need for the Patriots heading into the offseason and this release only furthers that point. Dont'a Hightower, Jamie Collins, and Ja'Whaun Bentley are among the other linebackers on the Patriots' roster set to his free agency, again leaving a big hole to fill. New England could look to get younger -- and faster -- at this position via the NFL Draft where it holds the 21st overall pick in the first round. In his most recent mock draft, CBS Sports NFL Draft analyst Chris Trapasso has the Patriots selecting Utah linebacker Devin Lloyd at No. 21 overall.