... And then there was one.
As teams around the league trim down the rosters to the league-compliant number of 53, there are bound to be a couple of surprises mixed in with the routine departure of myriad "bubble" players. The Patriots created a few headlines of their own early this morning with the releases of QB Brian Hoyer and WR Deion Branch.
Hoyer, 26, has held the role of Tom Brady's backup dating back to the 2009 season. The release of Hoyer likely represents a vote of confidence in Ryan Mallett, who also comes with a more cap-friendly salary to manage. Hoyer was due $1.9 million this season and would become a free agent at the end of the season. The Patriots look to carry only two quarterbacks on the roster during the 2012 season, with a likely third stashed on the practice squad after the cut day dust eventually settles.
Branch, 33, was seen as a probable lock following the releases of receivers Donté Stallworth and Jabar Gaffney. It was not to be so as the front office dealt Deion a pink slip this afternoon. Branch comes off a five-touchdown, 702-yard season and a lauded rapport with Tom Brady throughout his career. The Patriots could be positioning for a big move at the receiver position with Brandon Lloyd and Wes Welker being the only projected starters.
Discuss your thoughts of the cuts below!
UPDATE: [7:55 pm E/T] DB Derrick Martin, FB Eric Kettani, TE Alex Silvestro, S Sergio Brown, DL Aaron Lavarias, OL Jeremiah Warren, OT Matt Kopa and WR Jeremy Ebert have been informed of their release.
These 22 players that find themselves no longer on the team indicate that the Patriots are now compliant with the league's 53-man roster limit.