FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- The New England Patriots released linebacker Brandon Spikes on Monday as authorities investigated whether a Mercedes he owned was involved in an accident after the car was found abandoned in a highway median near where three people were hurt in a car that was rear-ended.

While it's not clear who had been driving, the driver of Spikes' 2011 Mercedes Maybach reported hitting a deer about 3:30 a.m. through the car's OnStar on-board navigation system, Massachusetts State Police spokesman David Procopio said in a statement. The car was found with front-end damage in the median near Interstate 495 in Foxborough, near Patriots team headquarters.

"Whoever had been driving it was no longer at the scene," Procopio said. "Investigation indicates the Mercedes is registered to Brandon Spikes. No deer was located."

Around the same time, troopers got a report that a car in the same area as the abandoned car had been rear-ended by a vehicle the occupants did not see. Three people -- a 52-year-old man, a 32-year-old woman and a 12-year-old boy, all from Billerica -- were taken to the hospital with minor injuries, authorities said.

So far, no connection has been established and no charges have been filed. Police say they have contacted Spikes and are investigating whether the incidents are related.

Phone and email messages left Monday with Spikes' agent weren't immediately returned.

Before announcing his release, Patriots spokesman Stacey James said the team was aware of the situation.

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Spikes had re-signed with the Patriots in May after playing last season for the Buffalo Bills.

He was drafted by the Patriots in 2010 in the second round out of Florida, spending the first four years of his career with New England.

In 66 career games he has 384 tackles, two sacks, two interceptions, seven forced fumbles, and one fumble recovery.