No One Safe as Patriots Hack Roster to 53 Man Limit

Dan Koppen (L), Deion Branch (R)

The New England Patriots as well as the other 31 NFL teams had until 9 p.m. ET on Friday evening to get their roster down to the league maximum of 53 players and if you had a Super Bowl ring or two it didn’t mean you were safe in Foxboro.

Gone are two time Super Bowl Super Bowl champions C Dan Koppen and WR Deion Branch.  Also apparently having dressed for the last time as a Patriot is fourth year QB Brian Hoyer.

Those released were:

  • WR Deion Branch
  • C Dan Koppen
  • QB Brian Hoyer
  • S James Ihedigbo
  • DE Aaron Lavarias (PS)
  • CB Derrick Martin
  • S Sergio Brown
  • RB Eric Kettani (PS)
  • OL Matt Kopa (PS)
  • OL Darion Weems (PS)
  • TE Alex Silvestro (PS)
  • G Derrick Dennis (PS)
  • WR Jeremy Ebert (PS)
  • WR Jesse Holley
  • LB Niko Koutouvides
  • LB Jeff Tarpinian
  • WR Kerry Taylor (PS)
  • TE Tyler Urban (PS)
  • OL Dustin Waldron (PS)
  • G Jeremiah Warren (PS)
  • CB Malcolm Williams (PS)
  • DL Marcus Harrison

Injured Reserve

  • RB Jeff Demps

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Koppen has been a long time staple at center for the Patriots, 9 seasons in fact.  Drafted in the 5tth round he went on to be a key member of a strong offensive line that won two Super Bowls, went to two more and played for 5 conference championships and only missed the playoffs once in his career.

Branch, also a member of two championship teams, came back to New England in 2010 after the Seattle Seahawks traded him.  Branch had left four years earlier in a contract dispute with the Patriots and was dealt to Seattle only to spend most of his time in the Pacific Northwest in the trainer’s room.  In his first stint in Foxboro Branch won a Super Bowl MVP award in 2004 when they beat Philadelphia.

According to sources Branch is still holding out hope of a return to Foxboro.  It’s pretty clear this is the place Brach is meant to play and is clearly a fan favorite judging by the response to his release on Twitter.

Hoyer has been the backup to Tom Brady since he came to New England as an undrafted free agent out of Michigan State in 2009 when replaced the departed Matt Cassel.

Ihedigbo, a UMass grad, grew up in Western Massachusetts and was a Patriots fan as a teen.  After being released by the New York Jets he came to the Patriots and played well in a variety of situations but with the upgrades made in the secondary in the offseason and through the draft he is an odd man out.

Martin just signed with Patriots after playing last season with the Super Bowl champion New York Giants.  Like Ihedigbo, it appears that the play of the younger defensive backs sealed his fate.

The players cut reveal the defensive overhaul the squad when through after last season, especially with the releases of Tarpinian, Koutouvides and Ihedigbo who all played significant time in 2011.

The only draft pick in this years class to be released was Ebert who was taken in the 7th round and the only offensive player the Patriots selected.

Demps was placed on IR after he hurt his leg on Wednesday in the preseason finale.  It is not known if it is the season ending IR or if he was placed on the newly formed IR that allows a player to return during the season.

All of the players in the list with (PS) after their name are practice squad eligible and could return once they clear waivers.  Each team is allowed to keep 8 players for their practice squad.

To be eligible you need to be a rookie, first year player or a player who has played in less than 9 games in each of his first two seasons.

Players on the practice squad do not have to come from the players the team cut.  They can sign eligible players to the squad who were cut by any of the other NFL teams.

New England actually cut its roster to 52 one below minimum to have a spot available in case someone who was released by another team fills a need.

Follow Steve on Twitter @SteveMichaelsII

photo credits: getty images, getty images