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Patriots cut veteran cornerback Poole

Veteran cornerback Tyrone Poole, who started for the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XXXVIII but then suffered through two straight seasons of injuries, was released Thursday, ESPN.com has learned.

The release, which will become official later Thursday afternoon, will make Poole a free agent. The move also saves the Patriots, who have spent the past two years developing younger cornerbacks, a little more than $2 million in salary cap space.

Poole, 34, has appeared in just six games the last two seasons and he finished the 2004 and 2005 seasons on injured reserve. The 10-year veteran played in just one game in 2005, tried to come back from an ankle injury, but then went on injured reserve in late October.

In 2003, Poole was one of only four New England defensive players to start in all 16 regular-season games and the club's three playoff victories. He had 66 tackles and six interceptions that year, and demonstrated the kind of "press" coverage skills that marked his early career. But the momentum Poole built that season, toward becoming a very good corner again, was then negated by two years of injuries.

If healthy, Poole could perhaps contribute to a team as a nickel cornerback, because he remains a very hard worker and is a defender with natural cover instincts. But he will have to demonstrate to interested teams that he is fully rehabilitated and can stay whole.

One of the Carolina Panthers' three first-round choices in their inaugural 1995 draft, Poole was a top-flight corner from the outset of his career, an undersized but physical cover player. After four years in Carolina, the former Fort Valley (Ga.) State standout had stints in Indianapolis (1998-2000), Denver (2002) and New England (2003-2005). He sat out the 2001 season for family reasons.

In 130 games, including 109 starts, Poole has 497 tackles, 17 interceptions and 133 passes defensed.

Len Pasquarelli is a senior NFL writer for ESPN.com.