Patriots release QB Cody Kessler

The Patriots have cut backup quarterback Cody Kessler, the team announced Wednesday.

Kessler’s release leaves Jarrett Stidham and Brian Hoyer as the only quarterbacks on the roster. The veteran journeyman was likely let go for cap reasons, though he was scheduled to make less than $1 million for the 2020 season. The Pats entered the week with less than $1 million in available cap space, the second-lowest amount in the NFL.

A third-round pick of the Browns in 2016, Kessler originally signed with the Pats on Sept. 25, then received his release on Oct. 15 and re-signed on Oct. 28. He remained with the team until Wednesday.

Kessler never appeared in any games, but grew into an asset for the Pats as a scout-team quarterback. He occasionally took over those duties from Stidham, when the then rookie saw starting practice reps in place of an ailing Tom Brady. Stidham is currently expected to replace Brady as the team’s next starting quarterback.

At the end of the team’s 2019 season, Kessler expressed great interest in returning to the team. Between his stints in Cleveland and New England, he played for the Jaguars and competed for the Eagles’ backup job last summer before being cut.

Without Kessler, it becomes more likely the Patriots will add a quarterback in the upcoming draft scheduled for April 23-25. The Pats own three picks in the third and sixth rounds, as well as selections in the fourth and fifth. The Patriots have drafted a quarterback in three of the last four years and four of the last six.

Pats, OT Jones, set up video conference

The New England Patriots are one of several teams looking at Josh Jones, a 6-foot-5, 319-pound offensive tackle out of the University of Houston. With no in-person meetings allowed, most teams are interviewing prospects via video conference. The Patriots have one set up with Jones.

Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle reported the scheduled meeting and tweeted:

“Houston LT Josh Jones, a rising first-round prospect from George Bush HS, has video conferences with Patriots, Texans, 49ers, Colts, Eagles, Rams, Chargers, Cardinals, Bucs, Bears, Ravens, Vikings, Jets, Packers #NFLDraft2020”

ESPN’s Scouts Inc. had Jones as the No. 29 best overall prospect and No. 5 offensive tackle available with the following analysis from January:

“Jones has good length, is very athletic and is tough to beat in pass protection. But I’d like to see the senior continue to get stronger.”

ESPN’s Todd McShay had Jones going to Miami at No. 26 in a recent mock draft and wrote:

“If you are drafting a quarterback with the injury history of (Tua) Tagovailoa, and your offensive line tied for the league’s high mark in sacks allowed last season (58), you better direct some attention toward protection. Tackle, in particular, is a big hole. Jones has versatility, shows an ability to drive defenders off the ball and flashes as a nasty finisher.”

The draft is April 23-25.

Kemba Walker says knee ‘doing well’

Kemba Walker was slowly working his way back from left knee soreness when the NBA was forced to shut down due to the coronavirus pandemic. He’s been quiet since being forced into isolation, but he made an appearance with Brian Scalabrine during a rebroadcast of the Boston Celtics early-season win over the Milwaukee Bucks.

“Quarantine has been very interesting,” he said during the video chat. “There’s not much to do. Just around the house. Working out a little bit, as much as I can, trying to do as much as I can do. But for the most part, just relaxing. There’s really not much to do.”

Walker could be the Celtic most impacted by the hiatus and isolation because of his continued recovery from the left knee issue. Without access to team facilities, Walker is left to continue his rehab on his own in his home.

“The knee is doing well,” Walker said. “It’s difficult because I don’t have anyone around to get me some treatment or anything like that, so I have to do my own stuff, which I’m trying my best to do as much as possible. Still trying to stay on top of things, so at this point it’s all about discipline.”

No matter what he does, at home, he may have to be the most careful Celtic should the season resume at some point.

“There’s ultimately going to be a need for kind of re-acclimation to just the individual drills, to ramp up your own individual conditioning,” Brad Stevens recently said. “And that’s assuming that we get back to playing. I know they’re bouncing around a ton of scenarios right now, but there’s no doubt that there would be a kind of getting in shape, re-acclimation phase that would have to be a part of that.”

Walker has missed 14 games this season for a variety of reasons, but the knee soreness has cost him the most time. It flared up after the All-Star game, requiring a procedure to drain the knee of fluid, which cost him all of Boston’s post-break West Coast trip. Walker also missed the back-half of a back-to-back in Cleveland as part of his rehab plan. He played in the Celtics final three games prior to the hiatus on a minutes restriction.

— Boston Herald