Cuts begin: Patriots WR Branch Released, QB Hoyer, OL Dan Koppen Also Let Go

Ian Logue
August 31, 2012 at 01:47pm ET

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Brian Hoyer is among the first cuts on this Friday. (FILE:USPresswire)

With the team in need on making cuts to get down to their 53-man roster by 9pm today, the Patriots are starting to make their moves and a couple of noticable ones have already occurred.

ESPN's Adam Schefter reports that the team has released veteran wide receiver Deion Branch, which certainly raised an eyebrow of fans who expected him to earn a roster spot.

Branch clearly outplayed Donte Stallworth during the preseason and Jabar Gaffney's recent release seemed to signal that the veteran would get one more season in New England.  Instead they've elected to release him, but it may not necessarily mean he's gone forever.

The move with Branch could be a situation where they're looking to retain an additional player on the roster and need his spot temporarily until the dust settles and they get a final feel personnel-wise of who they do/don't want to keep.  It's clear that it this point in his career Branch's best fit is in New England, so it would make sense to leave the door open for a possible return.

Meanwhile according to Mike Reiss of ESPN Boston, also released was back-up quarterback Brian Hoyer, which doesn't necessarily come as a surprise.  Both Hoyer and Mallett didn't really have an impressive preseason and it was Hoyer's job to lose, and it appears for now they'll take their chances with Mallett who for the most part matched Hoyer's performance on the field.

That leaves them for now with two quarterbacks, but it wouldn't be surprising for them to add another player later on to the practice squad.

Also reportedly released is offensive lineman Dan Koppen, which could signal that Brian Waters will finally be joining the team. Waters hasn't yet reported but according to Tom Curran merchandise was delivered to his locker this morning, so that will certainly be a nice boost to an offensive line that struggled during the preseason.

More to come.