FOXBORO - The Patriots aren't having much success in the summer with their free agency decisions of the springtime.
Defensive lineman Jonathan Fanene was the latest bust among Bill Belichick's free-agent signings, the former Cincinnati Bengal having been released on Tuesday before the Patriots headed south to Tampa.
Fanene, 30, suffered a knee injury early in training camp and never made it back to the practice field. He signed a three-year deal with a $3.85 million signing bonus back in March, and that signing bonus remains his even though he never made it to as much as a preseason game.
Fanene follows in the stumbling footsteps of two former Indianapolis Colts, wide receiver Anthony Gonzalez and running back Joseph Addai, who were released before the start of training camp. Former Oakland Raiders' offensive lineman Robert Gallery was another high-profile free agent that didn't pay off, having decided to retire after barely more than a week of training camp.
Fanene originally entered the NFL in 2005 as the Bengals' seventh-round draft pick (233rd overall) out of Utah. He had 121/2 sacks in his last two full NFL seasons, but was limited to two games in 2010 due to an injury. Last season, Fanene played in 16 games with two starts and finished with 24 total tackles and a career-high 61/2 sacks.
Belichick didn't have much to say about Fanene's release as he spoke to reporters via conference call before boarding an airplane for Tampa.
"It just didn't work out," the coach said. "I don't really think there's much to add than that. It just didn't work out."
The Patriots also released offensive lineman Kyle Hill and kicker Chris Koepplin before departing for their two days of joint practices with the Buccaneers, followed by Friday night's preseason game at Raymond James Stadium (7:30 p.m.; Ch. 4, 64).
Since 2010, the Patriots have had three other joint practices with other teams - with the Saints and Falcons and 2010 and the Saints again a week ago. It's expected that joint practices will become regular occurrences in future training camps.
"I wouldn't characterize myself as an advocate of it," Belichick said. "I just say that I think that as a coach, you try to do what's best for your team. If you feel like you can do something that benefits your team, then you consider doing it. If it works out, if the logistics and the timing and whatever circumstances that are involved work out to the point where it's beneficial for your club, then that's something that I would want to do. If the circumstances just don't work out for whatever reason, then I wouldn't be in favor of it."
Belichick and the Patriots viewed the films of Monday's 27-17 loss to Philadelphia and had a walkthrough at Gillette Stadium before heading to the airport. He didn't shed any light upon what he learned about his team, particularly the battle for the backup quarterback position between veteran Brian Hoyer and third-stringer Ryan Mallett, and spoke only in general terms.
"Some good things, other things we can learn from, need to improve on," Belichick said. "I thought they both managed their situation well at times, and there were other times where I'm sure there are plays they would like to have back. But you can say that about everybody."
Much of that improvement will hopefully take place during the two practices against the Buccaneers, Belichick said.
"This is another big week for us in terms of working three days against Tampa, seeing the different players, a different style of play, working out in different conditions than we're used to and all that," he said. "It's a good opportunity for us to improve our football team and we'll try to take advantage of each of these days and make the most out of it."