The Patriots released fullback Danny Vitale and signed tight end Troy Fumagalli Thursday, a league source confirmed.
Fumagalli, who appeared in eight games with the Denver Broncos last season, participated in the club’s OTA practice that was open to the media in the morning.
After getting drafted by the Broncos out of Wisconsin in the fifth round in 2018, Fumagalli spent his rookie season on injured reserve, then and collected six catches in 11 games in 2019. The 6-foot-6-inch, 248-pounder then spent time with the Texans in 2020 before returning to the Broncos, catching eight passes for 80 yards last season.
Vitale, a four-year veteran, was signed as a free agent prior to the 2020 season but ended up opting out because of concerns amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Vitale joins offensive tackle Marcus Cannon, safety Patrick Chung, wide receiver Marqise Lee, and guard Najee Toran as players who that will not be back with the Patriots after opting out of the 2020 season. Linebacker Dont’a Hightower, running back Brandon Bolden, and tight end Matt LaCosse all currently have spots on the 90-man roster.
Asked specifically about the status of Hightower, who was not present at the Thursday’s OTA, coach Bill Belichick said, “With all the players that are on the roster and not here, my expectations are that they intend to play. But we know things change and that’s always a part of life and a part of football. We’ll take it as it comes.”
In addition to Hightower, the players not spotted during the OTA were linebackers Matt Judon, Kyle Van Noy, Harvey Langi, Terez Hall, and LaRoy Reynolds; defensive linemen Lawrence Guy, Byron Cowart, and Chase Winovich; cornerbacks Stephon Gilmore, J.C. Jackson, and Myles Bryant; safeties Devin McCourty and Adrian Phillips, tight end Jonnu Smith; offensive tackles Isaiah Wynn and Trent Brown; wide receiver Tre Nixon; running backs James White, Sony Michel, Brandon Bolden, and Rhamondre Stevenson; and kicker Nick Folk.
Rookie safety Joshuah Bledsoe was present but had his right arm in a sling. Running back Damien Harris, tight end Dalton Keene, and rookie linebacker Cameron McGrone arrived during the session after completing other duties but strictly as observers. Linebacker Anfernee Jennings was present but did not participate.
As a reminder, taking attendance is tricky, as some players could be in the building rehabbing and/or training but not on the field.
Back to school
Hunter Henry and Smith have committed to attend “Tight End University,” a summit for the top players at that position. The three-day event, organized by fellow tight ends Travis Kelce, George Kittle, and Greg Olsen, is scheduled to take place in Nashville in June.
Other players who have agreed to attend include Mark Andrews, Eric Ebron, Zach Ertz, Noah Fant, Anthony Firkser, David Njoku, Kyle Pitts, Robert Tonyan, and Darren Waller.
“Looking forward to going,” Henry said. “It’s always good to [see] some of the best tight ends in this game and what they can offer. There are so many different ways to do things. It’ll be fun to bounce ideas and everything off those guys.”
Belichick spent time huddling with Matt Patricia and Ernie Adams, who, despite announcing his retirement last month, hasn’t cleared out his office just yet … Play of the day came from Brian Hoyer, who hit an outstretched Nelson Agholor on a deep sideline pattern during seven-on-sevens. It prompted Cam Newton to run over for a jump-bump celebration with his fellow quarterback … Jake Bailey is still disrupting air traffic patterns with his booming punts … Running back J.J. Taylor has gotten bigger and quicker … Jakob Johnson was lauded by the coaching staff for his blitz-pickup positioning. (Remember, no contact is allowed.) … Owner Robert Kraft observed most of the practice and chatted with several players, including Matthew Slater.
Nicole Yang of the Globe staff contributed to this report from Foxborough.