The New England Patriots have completed their roster reductions in order to get to the NFL-mandated 53-man roster limit, releasing backup quarterback Brian Hoyer and veteran wide receiver Deion Branch in the process.
The team also placed newly acquired RB Jeff Demps on injured reserve, shelving the Olympic silver medalist at least for the time being.
Hoyer had been considered Tom Brady's primary backup and key trade bait before today's news.
Branch was the MVP of Super Bowl XXXIX for the Patriots, before making an out route to the Seattle Seahawks in a trade for a 2007 first round draft pick. He returned to the Patriots in 2010 as part of a trade that sent the Seahawks a fourth rounder. He caught 51 passes last season for 702 yards and five touchdowns, and was widely considered to have held onto a roster spot after the team released receivers Jabar Gaffney and Donte' Stallworth, both of whom the team had signed in the offseason.
"Truly thankful for all the support from everybody," Branch tweeted. "I love you guys."
Also released were center Dan Koppen, DB Derrick Martin, LB Aaron Lavarias, OL Darrion Weems, WR Jesse Holley, DB Malcolm Williams, DL Marcus Harrison, WR Kerry Taylor, FB Eric Kettani, OL Derek Dennis, LB Jeff Tarpinian, OL Jeremiah Warren, WR Jeremy Ebert, OL Dustin Waldron, TE Tyler Urban, LB Niko Koutouvides, OL Matt Kopa, TE Alex Silvestro and safeties Sergio Brown and James Ihedigbo.
"Thank you to the organization and fans of New England it's been fun," Dennis wrote via Twitter.
Koppen, a veteran of nine NFL seasons, missed all but one game last season after suffering an ankle injury against the Miami Dolphins in Week 1. He re-signed in the offseason to a 2-year deal worth $6 million with the intention to battle with Dan Connolly to be the team's starting center. He struggled throughout training camp as the Patriots cycled through a number of interior lineman to use in his place.
Ihedigbo, who was re-signed by the Patriots just before training camp began in late July and is a native of Massachusetts. He started at safety for the team in the Super Bowl. In 12 starts last season and 16 games played, Ihedigbo tallied 69 tackles as one of the team's healthy contributors in a banged up secondary.
Brown, a third-year pro out of Notre Dame, started three games for the Patriots last season.
- 1:12 p.m. -- Brian Hoyer has been released.
- 1:12 p.m. -- The Patriots released safety James Ihedigbo.
- 1:14 p.m. -- Dan Koppen has been released.
- 1:28 p.m. -- Deion Branch has been released.
- 1:58 p.m. -- Derrick Martin has been released
- 2:14 p.m. -- Aaron Lavarias released.
- 4:44 p.m. -- Sergio Brown released.
- 5:58 p.m. -- Matt Kopa released.
- 6:14 p.m. -- Eric Kettani released, according to NFL.com.
- 6:35 p.m. -- Darrion Weems and Alex Silvestro have been released.
- 6:50 p.m. -- Derek Dennis tweeted that he was done with the Patriots. "Thank you to the organization and fans of New England it's been fun!!"
- 7:20 p.m. -- Jeff Tarpinian has been released, according to a report.
- 7:32 p.m. -- Jeremiah Warren has been released, according to a report.
- 7:43 p.m. -- Jeremy Ebert has been released, according to a report.
- 9:16 p.m. -- Tyler Urban has been released.
- 9:24 p.m. -- The Patriots announced the full list of 22 players cut from its roster while placing RB Jeff Demps on injured reserve.
For more details and the latest on the Patriots, check the Extra Points blog.
The main contributors to The Buzz are:
- Matt Pepin, Boston.com sports editor
- Steve Silva, Boston.com senior sports producer
- Gary Dzen, Boston.com senior sports producer
- Zuri Berry, Boston.com sports producer