Patriots releasing Rob Gronkowski's would-be replacement just months after signing him

The New England Patriots', ahem, interesting offseason for the pass-catching depth chart continued on Tuesday, with the team reportedly informing Austin Seferian-Jenkins it would release the tight end just months after signing him.

Seferian-Jenkins was signed in the third wave of free agency (as the Pats are wont to do), inking with New England on April 10. He made sense as a poor man's Gronk, a guy with plenty of upside who is a very capable blocker and a serious red-zone threat. 

No one expected ASJ to completely fill Gronk's shoes, because there isn't anyone alive who can fill Gronk's shoes. But he made sense given the Patriots' apparent move towards a run-heavy offense that cuts Sony Michel and Damien Harris loose on opposing teams while leaning on short-yardage pass catchers like James White and Rex Burkhead.

And now he's just not going to be on the team, as ESPN's Field Yates initially reported. According to NFL Media's Ian Rapoport, Seferian-Jenkins needed to step away for a month due to personal issues, and the Patriots seemed to decide to use his roster spot on someone else as he does so. That could open up the possibility of the tight end rejoining the Patriots down the line.

Seferian-Jenkins was busted for a DUI back in 2016 and would be cut by the Buccaneers, who previously drafted him in the second round. ASJ would later attend outpatient rehab and get sober for a lengthy period of time. He had the best season of his career after joining up with the Jets that year and it resulted in him inking a two-year deal with the Jaguars worth $10 million

The Jaguars released him after just a single unproductive season, but a) it's hard to blame ASJ for the offensive issues in Jacksonville, and b) it's worth noting he was doing good work off the field, helping a former Jets teammate battle alcoholism.

All of which to say, it's possible that Seferian-Jenkins is taking time away to focus on himself. I'm not trying to connect dots here, but it's not an unreasonable assumption. And it's important that he prioritizes his off-field life before dealing with on-field football matters.

Rob Gronkowski has made it abundantly clear he's not walking through that door and he's enjoying retired life. Which means it's likely going to be Ben Watson and Matt LaCosse handling tight end duties for New England this year.

The first-round selection in the NFL Draft of N'Keal Harry, a potential red zone threat in his own right, suddenly looks even smarter, as the Patriots are down another pass catcher in an offseason that has seen their depth chart trimmed considerably. 

This is also the second Patriots player signed this offseason to be gone from the team before even really joining them. 

CBS Sports Senior Writer

Will Brinson joined CBS Sports in 2010 and enters his seventh season covering the NFL for CBS. He previously wrote for FanHouse along with myriad other Internet sites. A North Carolina native who lives... Full Bio

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