New England released Danny Etling on Tuesday, ending the Patriots’ attempt to convert the second-year quarterback into a wide receiver.
The Patriots selected Etling in the seventh round of the 2018 draft and he spent last season on the practice squad for the Super Bowl LIII champions.
The Patriots needed to create a roster spot to make room for tight end Eric Saubert, who was acquired in a trade from the Atlanta Falcons for a conditional seventh-round draft choice.
Etling’s experimental shift to wide receiver and special-teams duties had been one of the most closely watched storylines for the team in training camp.
The notable comparisons were to New Orleans Saints quarterback Taysom Hill and to the Patriots’ own Julian Edelman, the Super Bowl MVP receiver who played quarterback in college for Kent State. Hill rushed 37 times for 196 yards and two touchdowns, caught three passes and returned 14 kicks for 348 yards with the Saints last season.
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Etling had been bumped from New England’s QB depth chart following the selection of Auburn’s Jarrett Stidham in the fourth round of this year’s draft. Stidham is listed third behind superstar Tom Brady and veteran backup Brian Hoyer.
Saubert, who was a fifth-round choice in the 2017 NFL Draft, caught five passes for 48 yards last season. The Patriots sent a conditional 2020 seventh-round pick to the Falcons in the trade, according to NFL Network.
So he transitioned to receiver, but in recent days Etling had some struggles at the position. He was the intended target on an incomplete fourth-down pass in the preseason opener Thursday night and also was penalized for illegal formation. Then in Monday’s practice, he bobbled a pass that was intercepted. He was also the intended target on another pass that was picked off.
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