It is a move that helps the salary-cap-strapped team create more space, but leaves a notable void at the position.
Gostkowski, who is coming off left hip surgery that shortened his 2019 season to four games, has been the team’s full-time kicker since 2006, when he replaced Adam Vinatieri. He is the franchise’s all-time leading scorer with 1,775 points.
Gostkowski, 36, was the Patriots’ longest-tenured player once quarterback Tom Brady signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last week. Gostkowski was scheduled to count $4.8 million against the salary cap in 2020.
The Patriots, who have nearly $23 million in cap charges for players not on their roster (which includes $13.5 million for Brady), don’t have another kicker on their roster. Veteran Nick Folk finished last season in that role and remains an unrestricted free agent.
Gostkowski was 374-for-428 on field goals (87.4%) with the Patriots, and 653-for-664 on point-after attempts (98%). That didn’t include the playoffs, where he was 31-for-36 on field goals and 79-for-83 on PATs. His strong right leg was also valuable to the team on kickoffs.
Only Tom Brady (41), Adam Vinatieri (32) and Jerry Rice (29) have played in more career playoff games than the 28 of Gostkowski, whose 205 postseason points are second all-time to the 238 by Vinatieri.
With his departure, the longest-tenured Patriots player is special-teamer Matthew Slater, who has been with New England for 12 seasons.