The New England Patriots have decided to go with a youth movement this year as they have released backup QB Brian Hoyer, starting center Dan Koppen and local secondary guy James Ihedigbo as they team trims the roster to 53 before the 9pm deadline today.
These moves along with the earlier releases this week of WR’s Donte’ Stallworth and Jabar Gaffney and then an even more surprising move this afternoon of Deion Branch, the Patriots are looking for the younger players they have drafted to step up and take bigger roles on the team.
The Patriots will look to second year QB Ryan Mallett, newly acquired WR Kerry Tyler (from Minnesota) and the rookies WR James Ebert and Jesse Holley to make up for the veterans who were let go this pre-season. On the offensive line, Koppen, an 11 year veteran, was considered safe after signing a two year deal this off-season, but he was getting beaten in scrimmages and they feel they have depth in Ryan Wendell, Nick McDonald are Donald Thomas, who are still on the bubble themselves to fill his spot on the line as they can play more than one position.
Defensively, Ihedigbo, who grew up in Northampton, MA, was a surprise pickup last August and contributed on special teams and in special passing packages last year. The depth of rookies in Nate Ebner and possibly Alfonzo Dennard, who is waiting to see if he survives the cuts, will fill in theirs.
There is talk about bringing back some of the players like Branch, Gaffney or others after the first week when salaries are not guaranteed. The team still has more moves to make to get to the 53 player limit, but they certainly started with a bit of a surprise. What shall drop next?