Patriots releasing kicker Stephen Gostkowski

Another era in New England is ending.

The Patriots are releasing veteran kicker Stephen Gostkowski, NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported, per a source informed of the decision.

The Boston Globe first reported the move.

The three-time Super Bowl champion replaced Adam Vinatieri in New England in 2006, and took over about as well as one could stepping into the shoes of a legendary kicker.

"I have had the privilege of coaching some of the best specialist in the NFL and Stephen Gostkowski is one of them," Patriots coach Bill Belichick said Tuesday in a statement. "Stephen had many highlights over his 14 years as a Patriot and one of the most impressive was the way it began, when he succeeded the most accomplished kicker in NFL history. For some, this may have been too difficult a challenge. But from his rookie year, Stephen exuded a maturity and confidence that demonstrated he was up to the task. He made several crucial kicks his rookie year and established a top level of performance and consistency for years and years to come. Stephen is a teammate who made outstanding contributions over a decade of championship football.

Gostkowski was a rock for New England, with enough leg to bite through the bitter weather in Foxboro in pivotal games in December and January. In 14 seasons with the Pats, the kicker connected on 87.38 percent of his field goals, currently fifth-best all-time, per Pro Football Reference. He's struggled, however, the past couple seasons.

Last year, the 36-year-old missed one field goal and four extra-point tries in four games before going on injured reserve due to a hip injury that required surgery. Gostkowski indicated to NFL Network's Mike Giardi back in January he desired to continue his career for a 15th season but needed to get healthy first.

The Patriots played merry-go-round at kicker after Gostkowski's injury, with Nick Folk -- currently a free agent -- being the last to kick for New England in the playoff loss to Tennessee.

Cutting Gostkowski, who was set to enter his final season under contract, saves the Patriots $2.64 million in salary-cap space, with $1.4 million in dead money.

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