Patriots release tight end Tim Wright

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- In a mildly surprising move, the New England Patriots released tight end Tim Wright on Thursday.

While Wright wasn't viewed as a roster lock, he was considered a strong candidate to serve as a backup to top tight ends Rob Gronkowski and Scott Chandler.

He played in every game last season and totaled 26 receptions for 259 yards and six touchdowns, the high TD total partially a result of him being part of a goal-line package that experienced some success. Wright played 31 percent of the offensive snaps in the regular season but hardly saw the field on offense in the playoffs (10 snaps played out of a possible 217).

The Patriots had acquired him in a trade with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last August, along with a 2015 fourth-round draft choice (defensive end Trey Flowers), in exchange for veteran guard Logan Mankins.

At 6-foot-4 and 220 pounds, Wright played a hybrid tight end/receiver type role and also contributed on some special-teams units. The signing of Chandler, formerly of the Buffalo Bills, bumped Wright a bit further down the depth chart.

Gronkowski and Chandler project as starters, with Michael Hoomanawanui, Fred Davis, rookie AJ Derby, Jake Bequette and fullback James Develin working with that group as well. The Patriots also used a sixth offensive tackle as an eligible tight end at times last season with success.