FOXBORO (CBS) – The Patriots have told linebacker Tully Banta-Cain that they intend to release him on Thursday, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

The move would come just days after Banta-Cain had abdominal surgery. He was slated to be out 4-5 weeks.

Banta-Cain would have been a $4.9 million hit against the team’s cap in 2011. The Pats will save $2 million in releasing him, according to

It’s not known whether Banta-Cain will be released for good or possibly re-signed later at a lower salary.

See: NFL Free Agency Tracker

Banta-Cain, one of the Patriots’ top pass-rushers, enters his ninth NFL season. He played in 15 games in 2010, with six starts, and was second on the team with five sacks. His role was mostly as a pass-rusher in specialty packages.

If the Pats indeed fully cut ties with Banta-Cain, they will have a big need for help at the linebacker position. We’ll see how Bill Belichick fills that void in the coming days.

The Patriots have also reportedly told defensive back Tony Carter, who was on the practice squad last season, that they intend on releasing him too.


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