Patriots cut veteran receivers

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Veteran receivers Jabar Gaffney and Donte' Stallworth were among several players released by the New England Patriots on Monday evening as they cut their roster to 75 players.

Both had signed free-agent contracts in the spring to return to New England. The release of Gaffney comes as a slight surprise as he was coming off career highs last season with the Redskins. He had a quiet training camp, however, and was held out of the team's last two preseason games with a thigh injury.

The release of Gaffney and Stallworth solidifies veteran Deion Branch's roster spot as the team's No. 3 receiver, although tight end Aaron Hernandez, who sources told ESPN.com Monday signed a contract extension earlier Monday, could also factor into the mix at the position.

In addition, the Patriots placed safeties Will Allen and Josh Barrett, as well as fullback Spencer Larsen on injured reserve. All three players had missed Friday's preseason loss in Tampa. Both Allen and Barrett were facing longer odds to make the roster, while losing Larsen, who was injured for most of training camp, leaves the Patriots with only first-year player Eric Kettani on their roster at fullback.

As expected, the Patriots also moved defensive lineman Myron Pryor (shoulder) and tight end Jake Ballard (ACL) to the reserve/physically unable to perform list, while rookie offensive lineman Markus Zusevics (pectoral) was transferred to the reserve/non-football injury list. All three players will miss at least the first six weeks of the regular season.

The Patriots also released veteran defensive lineman Gerard Warren on Monday, who had been out since Aug. 8 with an undisclosed injury. Defensive lineman Tim Bulman and cornerback Ross Ventrone were also cut.

Wide receiver Kerry Taylor was claimed off waivers from the Minnesota Vikings, returning to New England after a short stint on the practice squad early last season. The 2011 undrafted rookie from Arizona State will face long odds to make the 53-man roster.

With their roster now at 75 players, the Patriots play their final preseason game against the New York Giants on Wednesday night before trimming their roster to 53 players by Friday at 9 p.m.

Mike Rodak is a contributor to ESPNBoston.com.