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Patriots part ways with defensive end Kony Ealy

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Unable to find a trade partner for Kony Ealy, the Patriots are cutting him free.

The team announced Saturday that the fourth-year defensive end has been released. NFL Network's Mike Garafolo first reported the news.

Ealy's departure boils down to the lineman failing to mesh into New England's multiple-look defensive front. The hope was that the former Panthers draft pick would step in and make up for the loss of the retired Rob Ninkovich. No dice.

"I just think it's one of those things that didn't work out or wasn't going to work out. Nobody's fault. He worked hard. We worked hard. A lot of effort put in, but in the end, we didn't feel like this was going to work out," coach Bill Belichick told reporters, per ESPN's Mike Reiss. "It gives him an opportunity about a week ahead of next week to hopefully create a better opportunity for himself. I think he deserved that. He did everything we asked him to do. It just didn't work out for either one of us like we hoped it would."

As recently as Friday, NFL Network's Tom Pelissero reported that the team had "gauged" interest in possibly trading Ealy away. Forced to cut him for nothing, the Patriots will roll on with Trey Flowers -- perhaps their most promising young defender -- as the team's top end.

The Patriots acquired Ealy in March, shipping their 2017 second-round pick to the Panthers in exchange for the 25-year-old lineman and Carolina's 2017 third-rounder. New England moved down just eight spots to grab Ealy, but he clearly never caught on, with the former Missouri star spending much of camp "working mostly with the backups and end-of-roster players," per Reiss.

On the payroll for just five months, chalk up Ealy's quick departure as one of the rare occurrences when a Patriots transaction falls flat on its face.

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