Reports: Patriots cut Hoyer, Branch, Koppen

Posted Aug. 31, 2012 @ 1:45 p.m.
Posted By Kevin Fishbain

The Patriots released backup QB Brian Hoyer, Adam Caplan of The Sideline View first reported, giving second-year QB Ryan Mallett the No. 2 job behind Tom Brady. The Pats also cut veterans WR Deion Branch, C Dan Koppen and S James Ihedigbo, according to Shalise Young of The Boston Globe.

Hoyer received a second-round tender this past offseason. This preseason, Hoyer completed 22-of-47 passes for 196 yards, one touchdown and one interception. In his career, Hoyer has appeared in 13 games. He completed one pass last season. 

The Patriots added WR Brandon Lloyd to the fold this season and cut Jabar Gaffney and Donte' Stallworth on Monday, and Branch is the latest veteran wideout to be shown the door. Branch rejoined the Patriots in 2010 after spending over four seasons with Seattle. Last season, he had 51 catches for 702 yards and five touchdowns.

Koppen suffered a season-ending injury in Week One last year. Before that, he had started every game for three seasons. The Patriots have centers Dan Connolly, Ryan Wendell and Nick McDonald on the roster.

Ihedigbo started 12 games for the Pats last season and made 69 tackles. He rejoined the team late in the offseason.

The way we see it

The Patriots carried three quarterbacks last season, and it was assumed that Hoyer would either hit unrestricted free agency next year or the Patriots could trade him. This means the franchise is confident enough in Mallett going forward, but it certainly comes as a surprise. Hoyer knew the offense and seemed to perform well in limited time.

The Branch cut comes as a bit of a surprise, but with Lloyd on the field with WR Wes Welker and TEs Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez, there is not a lot of room for Branch. The Pats also have Julian Edelman and Matthew Slater as extra wideouts.

Koppen’s cut is not a huge surprise, the Patriots have plenty of centers and Connolly has more value because of his versatility, so he wasn’t going to get cut. The Pats added safeties Tavon Wilson and Steve Gregory this offseason, making Ihedigbo expendable.