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Why Was Malik Cunningham Waived?

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New England Patriots Malik Cunningham

Reports out of Foxboro are that rookie Malik Cunningham has been waived by the New England Patriots. ESPN’s Field Yates was the first to report.

The UDFA quarterback/receiver/special teams player had been added to the Patriots 53-man roster prior to New England’s game against the Las Vegas Raiders. The move still leaves the Patriots with three quarterbacks on the 53-man roster: Mac Jones, Bailey Zappe and Will Grier.

While the transaction means Malik Cunningham will now hit the waiver wire, it is not necessarily the end of his time with the New England Patriots.

If he does clear waivers, New England could still bring Cunningham back to the practice squad. It is possible New England simply needs the additional roster spot and believed Cunningham could clear waivers.

Trey Flowers was eligible to return from the PUP list, but he was also released. That means the likely beneficiary of the move, barring an outside addition, is a current practice squad player. Jalen Reagor needs to the 53-man roster in order for him to participate in any more games. Reagor has already reached the three promotion limit from the practice squad.

Bill Belichick spoke at length about Cunningham after he had been promoted to the 53 man roster less than two weeks ago.

“Malik’s really worked hard and made a lot of improvement. He never really played in the kicking game at Louisville, so he’s started to show up there, never played receiver – didn’t look very good either, in the spring, but he’s really improved there,” explained Belichick. “He can catch the ball, but just route running and finding zones and things like that. But, it’s come pretty naturally to him.”

But Belichick also touched based on what a segment on the fanbase was really wondering about, Malik Cunningham at quarterback.

“He plays a good amount of quarterback. He’s competent there. He’s a smart kid, works hard, and the opportunities he’s had, he’s shown a lot of improvement. It’s a little too early for an induction ceremony here, but definitely a lot of improvement.”

Based on Belichick’s comments, and the amount of time that has been devoted to working with him, it seems the New England Patriots think highly of Malik Cunningham as a prospect. It will be interesting to see if he clears waivers returns to the team’s practice squad.

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