Leonard Hankerson is going back on waivers.
NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport added that if Hankerson clears waivers the belief is he will return to New England.
The reason behind the catch-and-release move by the Patriots, per Rapoport, is that Hankerson hasn’t been in the offense long enough to contribute Sunday, but New England would like him in the fold later in the season (i.e. playoffs) or next year.
The fifth-year pro was active for the Patriots last week but played just 10 snaps and was targeted zero times.
Hankerson had a promising start to the season with the Falcons before landing on injured reserve. He was eventually released and scooped up by the Patriots. Now the Pats will see if anyone swoops in to claim their contingency plan.
In a corresponding move, the Pats signed wide receiver Chris Harper to the 53-man roster from the practice squad. Harper has been in the organization since Week 1, rotating between the practice squad and the active roster and seeing action in three games. Harper was notably cut from the roster following a Week 12 loss to the Broncos in which he muffed a fourth-quarter punt. However, Harper’s experience on the team and with the playbook likely suited New England better this week with a banged-up receiving corps than a still-learning Hankerson.