The Patriots began their roster paring with a surprise early cut Wednesday night, informing Mohamed Sanu of their plans to release the veteran wide receiver, a league source confirmed.
The transaction won’t become official until 4 p.m. Thursday, so it’s possible Sanu could be moved if a trade partner is willing to pick up his $6.5 million salary.
New England acquired Sanu from the Falcons last October in exchange for a second-round pick in April’s draft.
Sanu had 10 catches for 81 yards against the Ravens in his second game but injured his ankle returning a punt in Philadelphia a week later and was never able to recover fully or be a factor in the offense.
Sanu had just 15 catches over the final seven games — including one catch for 11 yards in the playoff loss to the Titans. He finishes his Patriots career with 27 catches for 218 yards and a touchdown.
Sanu had surgery shortly after the season and posted several social media photos wearing a walking boot.
The nine-year veteran declined to say he was frustrated by last season when asked about it earlier in camp, preferring to talk about the future.
“I was out there, so I was doing what I was supposed to do: Play,” he said. “I’m not focused on that anymore. I’m focused on this year.”
Sanu hired a live-in coach, Drew Lieberman, this offseason “to get better at the little details. Just trying to make sure I sharpen all the little details and I’m the best I can be for the team.’'
Sanu, who also worked on a revamped physical conditioning program in the offseason, didn’t miss a training camp practice. Still, the 6-foot-2-inch, 210-pounder occasionally had trouble creating separation in both team and individual drills.
“I’m coming in working as hard as I can every day to be the best me — the best version of me I can be,” he said. “I just go out there and do what feels great, necessary to build my game to be where it needs to be so my team can count on me.’'
Sanu’s release is good news for Damiere Byrd, who has had a strong camp and now projects to be the No. 3 receiver behind Julian Edelman and N’Keal Harry. Byrd played with Cam Newton in Carolina.
The Patriots also have Gunner Olszewski, Jakobi Meyers, Devin Ross, Jeff Thomas, Isaiah Zuber, and Andre Baccellia batting for receiver roster spots.