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Patriots formally announce the signing of eight veteran free agents

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FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – The New England Patriots formally announced today the signing of eight veteran free agents. Terms of the contracts were not announced. The Patriots have signed DL Beau Allen, WR Damiere Byrd (pronounced – duh-MEER), LB Brandon Copeland, DB Cody Davis, QB Brian Hoyer, WR Marqise Lee, DB Adrian Phillips and FB Dan Vitale (pronounced – vi-TAL-ee).

Allen, 28, is a veteran of six NFL seasons with Philadelphia (2014-17) and Tampa Bay (2018-19). The 6-foot-3, 327-pounder originally entered the NFL as a seventh-round draft pick (224th overall) of Philadelphia out of Wisconsin in the 2014 NFL Draft. He was signed by Tampa Bay as an unrestricted free agent from Philadelphia on March 16, 2018. Allen has played in 90 regular-season NFL games with 16 starts and has registered 117 total tackles, 2½ sacks, one fumble recovery and two passes defensed. He has also played in three postseason games in 2017 with Philadelphia, including Super Bowl LII, finishing the postseason with three total tackles. Last season with Tampa Bay, Allen played in 13 games as a reserve and finished with 10 total tackles and a half-sack.

Byrd, 27, originally entered the NFL as a rookie free agent with the Carolina Panthers on May 8, 2015, out of South Carolina. The 5-9, 180-pounder has played with Carolina (2016-18) and Arizona (2019). He has played in 28 games with six starts and has 44 receptions for 488 yards with three touchdowns and has returned 12 punts for 113 yards and 14 kickoffs for 353 yards with one touchdown.

Byrd spent the 2015 season on the Carolina practice squad. In 2016, he began the season on the Carolina 53-man roster, seeing action in one game, before spending the majority of the season on the practice squad. He spent the 2017 and 2018 seasons on the Carolina 53-man roster but missed time both seasons due to injuries. Byrd signed with the Arizona as a free agent on March 26, 2019. Last season he played in 11 games with three starts for the Cardinals and caught 32 passes for 359 yards and one touchdown and returned four kickoffs for 59 yards.

Copeland, 28, is a veteran of five NFL seasons with the Detroit Lions (2015-17) and the New York Jets (2018-19). The 6-foot-3, 263-pounder originally entered the NFL as a rookie free agent with the Baltimore Ravens out of the University of Pennsylvania in 2013. He spent a week on the Baltimore practice squad as a rookie before spending the remainder season and part of the 2014 season on the Tennessee practice squad. Copeland signed with Detroit in 2015 and after three seasons signed with the New York Jets as a free agent on March 20, 2018.

Overall, Copeland has played in 60 regular-season games with 14 starts and has registered 88 tackles, seven sacks, two forced fumbles, four passes defensed and 18 special teams tackles. Last season, he played 12 games with three starts for the Jets and finished with 35 tackles, 1½ sacks, one forced fumble, one pass defensed and seven special teams tackles.

Davis, 30, is a veteran of seven NFL seasons with the St. Louis/Los Angeles Rams (2013-17) and the Jacksonville Jaguars (2018-19). The 6-foot-2, 203-pounder, originally joined the NFL as a rookie free agent with the St. Louis Rams in 2013 out of Texas Tech. Davis signed with Jacksonville as an unrestricted free agent from St. Louis on March 15, 2018. He has played in 97 regular season games with five starts and has 36 tackles on defense, two interceptions, eight passes defensed and 46 special teams tackles. Davis played in one playoff game in the 2017 postseason for the Rams and finished with two special teams tackles.

Last season, he played in all 16 games for the Jaguars and finished with five defensive tackles and eight special teams tackles.

Hoyer, 34, returns to New England for the third time after originally joining the team as a rookie free agent out of Michigan State in 2009. He played with New England through the 2011 season and again for part of the 2017 season and all of the 2018 season. The 6-foot-2, 215-pounder is a veteran of 11 NFL seasons and has spent time with Arizona (2012), Pittsburgh (2012), Cleveland (2013-14), Houston (2015), Chicago (2016), San Francisco (2017) and Indianapolis (2019), in addition to the Patriots. He went to training camp with New England in 2019 and was released on Aug. 31, and signed with Indianapolis on Sept. 2. Last season with the Colts Hoyer played in four games with one start and completed 35-of-65 passes for 372 yards with four touchdowns and four interceptions.

Overall, Hoyer has played in 69 regular-season games with 38 starts and has completed 873-of-1,477 passes for 10,274 yards with 52 touchdowns and 34 interceptions. He has also played in two postseason contests with one start and completed 15-of-34 pass attempts with no touchdowns and four interceptions. Hoyer has made 23 appearances as a reserve for New England in the regular season and has completed 32-of-51 pass attempts for 335 yards with one touchdown and one interception.

Lee, 28, was originally draft by Jacksonville in the second-round (39th overall) of the 2014 NFL Draft out of Southern California. The 6-foot, 196-pounder has played in 59 regular-season games with 30 starts and has 174 receptions for 2,184 yards and eight touchdowns. In addition, he has played and started in three postseason games in 2017 and caught seven passes for 69 yards. Lee has also totaled 100 yards on 16 rushing attempts, returned 18 kickoffs for 545 yards and one touchdown and returned seven punts for 16 yards. He was released by Jacksonville on April 20, 2020, after six seasons with the team.

Lee's best statistical season came in 2016 when he caught 63 passes for 851 yards and 3 touchdowns. Last season, he was limited to just six games with one start due to injury, and caught three passes for 18 yards.

Phillips, 28, is a veteran of six NFL seasons with the Chargers (2014-19) after joining the team as a rookie free agent out of Texas on June 16, 2014. The 5-foot-11, 210-pounder, has played in 64 regular-season games with 24 starts and totaled 220 tackles, five interceptions for 74 yards, 18 passes defensed, two forced fumbles and 28 special teams tackles. He has also played in two postseason contests, finishing with 12 tackles, one interception, one forced fumble and three passes defensed.

After rotating between the 53-man roster and the practice squad his first two seasons, Phillips played in 14 games with six starts in 2016. Phillips was named to his first Pro Bowl and was an Associated Press All Pro: First Team selection as a special teams player in 2018 after finishing with 16 total special teams tackles. Last season, Phillips was limited to seven games with five starts due to an injury, and finished the season with 32 total tackles on defense and four special teams tackles.

Vitale, 26, is a veteran of four NFL seasons with the Cleveland Browns (2016-18) and Green Bay Packers (2018-19). The 6-foot, 239-pounder, originally entered the NFL as a sixth-round draft pick (197th overall) of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers out of Northwestern. He began his career on the Tampa Bay practice squad before being signed off the practice squad to the Cleveland 53-man roster. After being released by Cleveland in 2018, he was signed to the Green Bay practice squad before being signed to 53-man roster late in the season. Vitale has played in 44 NFL games with 13 starts and with one rushing attempt for three yards and 15 receptions for 145 yards. Last season with the Packers, he played in 15 games with four starts and had one rushing attempt for three yards and seven receptions for 97 yards. He was inactive for both Green Bay 2019 postseason games.

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