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Reports: Patriots cut WR Deion Branch, OL Dan Koppen, QB Brian Hoyer

By Will Brinson | NFL Writer
Branch is out in NE, again, along with Koppen and Hoyer. (Getty Images)

Friday's a scary day for anyone on the bubble -- and we've got a running tracker of all cuts right here -- and there are plenty of folks getting pink slips from various teams. The Patriots, in particular, raised some eyebrows when they cut veterans Brian Hoyer, Dan Koppen and Deion Branch early in the afternoon Friday.

According to various reports, all three of those veterans are on their way out in Foxboro and while they're not completely shocking cuts, it's still interesting to note, particularly since Branch and Koppen are the only starters besides Tom Brady to start Super Bowls XXXVIII and XXXIX for New England.

This is Branch's second departure from New England (he was traded to Seattle the first time) and it marks a full-on cleansing of veteran wideouts from the Pats this year. Branch, Jabar Gaffney and Donte Stallworth all looked like solid low-risk additions to New England's roster, but none ended up making the team. It's not a big deal, as Brady's still got Rob Gronkowski, Aaron Hernandez, Wes Welker and Brandon Lloyd as primary targets, which is just kind of decent.

Koppen, drafted in the fifth round of the 2003 NFL Draft by New England, has played for the Pats his entire career, winning a pair of Super Bowls and handling the starting snap duties with Brady since he was picked up. He's been on the bubble throughout the preseason so it's understandable that New England's moved on, but it's still weird. Dallas, who's had interior offensive line problems, could be a landing spot. Their starting center Phil Costa was a trainwreck last season and he's dealt with injuries throughout the preseason.

Hoyer was reportedly shopped -- thank goodness GMs are starting to hangup on Belichick when he calls about backup quarterbacks now -- but the writing was on the wall with his $1.9 million price tag and Ryan Mallett winning the backup job behind Brady. The result was Hoyer's release and it's hard to imagine he won't be a fairly hot commodity on the market. He's got some experience as a backup and might even qualify as a starter in certain markets (ahem, Arizona). The Pats would love to have had him as a safety net, but that's too much cheddar to dole out to a third-string quarterback.

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnNFL on Twitter, subscribe to our RSS Feed watch Pro Football 360 daily at 3 p.m. ET and NFL newsletter. You can follow Will Brinson on Twitter here: @willbrinson.

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