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Daniel Fells, Jake Ballard cut by New England Patriots

The Patriots have done some tight end housecleaning.'s Ian Rapoport reported Friday that New England has released Daniel Fells and Jake Ballard, per a source informed of the transaction. The team later confirmed the cuts.

The Patriots' decision to part ways with both players supports a Thursday report by's Albert Breer that New England strongly is leaning toward keeping Rob Gronkowski off the team's physically unable to perform list.

The new streamlined tight end depth chart now includes Gronkowski, Zach Sudfeld and Michael Hoomanawanui.

Ballard never showed himself to be all the way back from the serious knee injury he suffered with the New York Giants in Super Bowl XLVI. Fells entered training camp as a favorite to start in Gronkowski's absence, but he quickly tumbled down the depth chart. Fells signed a three-year, $5.25 million contract last year.

We'll see if the Patriots elect to bring another tight end into the mix, but all signs point to a Gronk return sooner rather than later.

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