Patriots cut KR Washington

The New England Patriots surprisingly released two-time Pro Bowl return man Leon Washington following a series of waiver claims on Sunday.

Washington was named to the NFC squad for last year's Pro Bowl after leading the conference with an average of 29.0 yards per kick return as a member of Seattle. The veteran running back was released by the Seahawks in March following that team's acquisition of wide receiver Percy Harvin, however, and signed with the Patriots just a few days later.

The 30-year-old was deemed expendable, though, as New England still has a proven punt returner on the roster in wideout Julian Edelman and several possible options -- including defensive back Devin McCourty, rookie wide receiver Josh Boyce and running back LeGarette Blount -- to take back kicks.

Cornerback Marquice Cole, a key special teamer who recorded 17 tackles and an interception for the Pats last season, was also released after the team picked up linebacker Chris White, offensive linemen Braxston Cave and Chris Barker and defensive tackle A.J. Francis off waivers. All but White are rookies.

White spent two seasons with Buffalo before being traded to Detroit for quarterback Thaddeus Lewis on Aug. 25. The former fourth-round pick was released by the Lions during Saturday's final cuts.

Barker and Francis were both in Miami's camp as undrafted free agents, while Cave spent the preseason with the Cleveland Browns.