The New England Patriots announced defensive lineman Jonathan Fanene has been released, despite the seven-year veteran's nearly $4 million signing bonus earned this offseason.
"Just didn't work out," head coach Bill Belichick said when asked during a Tuesday afternoon conference call for a reason why Fanene was cut. As he often does, Belichick declined to elaborate on that explanation.
Why the 30-year-old Fanene was released is likely due to a knee injury that caused him to miss the past few weeks of practice and both of the Patriots' preseason games so far.
Fanene's injury has led to increased playing time for Chandler Jones, Jermaine Cunningham, Brandon Deaderick and Ron Brace. These recent draft picks have played well as the Patriots' front seven has been quite active in preseason games against the New Orleans Saints and Philadelphia Eagles.
If there is an element of surprise about the Fanene release, it would pertain to the $3.85 million signing bonus he received five months ago. With the exceptions of restructures and extensions for quarterback Tom Brady and tight end Rob Gronkowski -- and the "nothing we can do about it" signing bonuses for first-round draft picks Chandler Jones and Dont'a Hightower -- Fanene's signing bonus was the largest one given out by the Patriots in 2012.
Releasing Fanene saves $900,000 in cash and salary-cap space this season. The veteran will leave a $2.566 million imprint on the Patriots' 2013 cap.
UPDATE: A league source told Sirius XM Radio's Ross Tucker on Wednesday that the Patriots released Fanene for "failure to disclose physical condition" and the Patriots likely would try to reclaim his $3.85 million signing bonus.
Follow Brian McIntyre on Twitter @brian_mcintyre.