The Patriots waived running back James Robinson on Monday, less than three months after making him one of their highest-profile free-agent additions.
The 24-year-old was expected to serve as the primary backup to Rhamondre Stevenson. His departure leaves Stevenson as the only proven rusher on the roster. Robinson signed a 2-year, $4 million deal that protected the team in case of injury or unexpected release and now creates roughly $1 million in cap space.
Last season, Robinson slowly worked his way back from an Achilles tear he suffered in Dec. 2021. He proved far less effective than the 1,000-yard rookie rusher who broke out with the Jaguars in 2020. Midway through the 2022 season, Jacksonville traded him to the Jets, who declined to retain him as a restricted free agent this offseason.
The Pats now have Stevenson, Pierre Strong, Kevin Harris, Ty Montgomery and J.J. Taylor in their running backs room. Montgomery served as the team’s third-down back in last year’s season opener, then underwent season-ending shoulder surgery, which forced Stevenson into a full-time role. As a result, he wore down as the season progressed and led the team in catches and rushing yards.
On Monday, Montgomery primarily played receiver during minicamp practice, while Strong took the next running back reps after Stevenson in team drills.
Before practice, the Patriots re-signed undrafted rookie defensive lineman Justus Tavai. The 24-year-old originally signed in mid-May after participating in rookie minicamp, then received his release on June 2. He is the younger brother of Patriots linebacker Jahlani Tavai.
The Pats also released former practice-squad cornerback Tae Hayes, a long shot to make the 53-man roster. He did not participate in practice. The Pats closed league business Monday with two open roster spots ahead of an expected free-agent visit from DeAndre Hopkins.