By Steve Ginsburg
(Reuters) - New England Patriots linebacker Brandon Spikes, being investigated for possible involvement in a hit-and-run accident, was released by the team on Monday, less than a month after it signed him.
A damaged Mercedes-Benz Maybach registered to Spikes was found abandoned early Sunday in the median strip of Interstate 495 in Foxborough, Massachusetts, State Police said.
The driver of the car reported through the on-board navigation system hitting a deer. But when help arrived, the car had been abandoned and no deer had been found in the area, police said.
However, another car in the area at about the same time reported being rear-ended, but no one in the vehicle could identify the vehicle that hit them. Three occupants of the read-ended car were taken to the hospital with minor injuries, police said.
No charges have been filed. The Patriots made no mention of the accident in their statement announcing that Spikes had been cut.
Spikes, 27, is a five-year veteran of the National Football League. He played the first four seasons with the Patriots before signing a one-year deal with the Buffalo Bills in 2014. He returned to the Patriots in March as a free agent with a one-year contract that could have made him up to $2 million, though the only guaranteed money was a $25,000 signing bonus.
It has been a tumultuous off-season for the Super Bowl champion Patriots. They have been involved in a scheme to deflate the footballs in January's AFC championship game.
Their star quarterback, Tom Brady, has been suspended for four games for the upcoming season. The team was also fined a record $1 million over the incident, and had two future drafts picks, including a first-round selection, taken away.
Brady, who has denied any knowledge of a plan to deflate the footballs, is appealing the suspension. Deflating the football can make it easier for a quarterback to throw the ball.
(Reporting by Steve Ginsburg in Washington; Editing by Alan Crosby; Editing by Alan Crosby)