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Brandon LaFell.

Patriots release two offensive players as preparations for 2016 begin

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The New England Patriots have released wide receiver Brandon LaFell and tight end Scott Chandler over the past 24 hours, as they begin preparations for the 2016 NFL season.

Exit door

ESPN reporters Adam Schefter and Mike Reiss were the first to report the offensive duo's departure from Foxboro. The move is thought to save the Patriots $4 million on their salary cap for the upcoming campaign.

Both LaFell and Chandler had seen their respective roles at New England reduced during a 2015 hampered by injury, the former spending the early part of the season on the PUP list.

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LaFell leaves the Patriots after two seasons with the franchise, during which time he amassed 1,490 receiving yards and seven touchdowns in 27 games.

The 29-year-old also added a further 125 yards and two TDs in playoff football - most famously scoring in New England's 28-24 victory over the Seattle Seahawks in Super Bowl XLVIII.

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However, after ranking second in team targets in 2014 - behind only Rob Gronkowski - LaFell missed the first five games of 2015 with a foot injury and failed to regain a meaningful role in the offense. Several poor drops didn't help his cause.

The 6ft 2 inch wideout's departure for pastures new leaves the Patriots with few experienced options at the receiver position besides Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola.

LaFell has since taken to Instagram to thank the organization and its fans:

two down

As for Chandler, his time as Rob Gronkowski's backup at the Pats has come to an end after just one season.

ESPN notes that the tight end's release was accompanied by a "failed physical designation," compounding a solo New England campaign that was dogged by knee issues.

There were high hopes the 30-year-old could give offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels the option to play a two-tight end system at times but, with just 23 receptions, it never really panned out.

Divisional Round - Kansas City Chiefs v New England Patriots

Michael Williams, heading into his fourth NFL season, is now the second option on the Patriots TE depth chart at present.

Like LaFell, Chandler should be able to find work at a new franchise for 2016 - whether they can offer as good a chance at winning a Super Bowl ring is another question.

Replacements

It will be interesting to see what moves New England make this offseason in terms of bringing players in on the offensive side of the ball.

Tom Brady, recently inked to a two-year extension, helped the franchise to lead the league in passing yards-per-game in 2015 and he will be hoping to see an upgrade in the quality of his targets come Week One of the upcoming campaign.

Considering, though, that this is Bill Belichick we are talking about, just who those arrivals might be is anyone's guess right now.

Patriots fans: Who do you want your team to sign this offseason? Would you have kept either LaFell or Chandler? Have your say in the comments below...

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Topics:
Rob Gronkowski
New England Patriots
Tom Brady
Superbowl
NFL

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