The Patriots quietly hosted a handful of lower-tier free agents and created some salary cap space Wednesday.
According to sources and other media reports, the Patriots hosted defensive end Matt Shaughnessy, linebacker Wesley Woodyard and receivers Brandon LaFell and Jason Avant Wednesday, and will host Rams backup guard Shelley Smith Thursday. Shaughnessy promptly re-signed with the Cardinals for two years after his visit, while Woodyard, a starter for the Broncos last season, said he appreciated his opportunity to meet with the Patriots.
“The visit with the Patriots went great,” Woodyard told ESPN. “I got to sit down with the coaches. I talked to [Bill] Belichick, too. He told me how he sees my role with the team. I respect him a lot.”
It is unclear what will come of LaFell and Avant.
The Patriots are also still negotiating with receiver Julian Edelman, who led the team with 105 receptions last year. Edelman is testing the market, and the Ravens and Browns are believed to be interested, but the wide receiver market has been soft so far, and New England may still be able to re-sign Edelman.
The Patriots also released two players — nose tackle Isaac Sopoaga and backup offensive lineman Markus Zusevics. Sopoaga was acquired via trade in the middle of the season to help replace Vince Wilfork. Sopoaga was acquired from the Eagles along with a sixth-round pick from Philadelphia for a fifth-round pick — but he was unproductive, finishing with one tackle and one sack in six games and being made inactive for the two playoff games.
Sopoaga, 32, saves the Patriots $2 million in cap space — he was set to count $3.5 million against the cap, but now will cost only $1 million. Zusevics, an undrafted rookie in 2012, didn’t appear in a regular-season game with the Patriots.