FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – The New England Patriots released 22 players today. In addition, the Patriots placed rookie free agent RB Jeff Demps on injured reserve. Demps was signed by the Patriots on Aug. 17, 2012.
The Patriots released 12 veteran players: WR Deion Branch, S Sergio Brown, DL Marcus Harrison, WR Jesse Holley, QB Brian Hoyer, S James Ihedigbo, OL Matt Kopa, C Dan Koppen, LB Niko Koutouvides, S Derrick Martin, LB Jeff Tarpinian and S Malcolm Williams.
The Patriots released four first-year players: FB Eric Kettani, DL Aaron Lavarias, TE Alex Silvestro and WR Kerry Taylor.
The Patriots released one 2012 draft pick: WR Jeremy Ebert.
The Patriots released five rookie free agents: OL Derek Dennis, TE Tyler Urban, OL Dustin Waldron, OL Jeremiah Warren and OL Darrion Weems.
Branch, 33, was originally selected by the Patriots in the second round (65th overall) of the 2002 NFL Draft out of Louisville. He was traded by the Patriots to the Seattle Seahawks on Sept. 11, 2006 and then reacquired through a trade with Seattle on Oct. 12, 2010. Last season, Branch started in 15 games that he played in and caught 51 passes for 702 yards with five touchdowns, including a 63-yard reception in the win at Philadelphia on Nov. 27. Branch, 5-9, 195 pounds, has played in 130 games with 107 starts and accumulated 502 receptions for 6,499 yards and 39 touchdowns. He has played in 15 postseason games with 13 starts and has 62 receptions for 932 yards and four touchdowns. His 24 receptions in three Super Bowls are third all time to the 33 by Jerry Rice (four Super Bowls) and the 27 by Andre Reed (four Super Bowls).
Brown, 24, is a veteran of two NFL seasons with the Patriots. The 6-foot-2, 210-pounder originally joined the Patriots as a rookie free agent from Notre Dame in 2010. He began his rookie campaign on the practice squad before being signed to the 53-man roster and playing in the final 11 games of the season. Last year, he played in 15 games with three starts and finished with 30 total tackles on defense, one interception and nine special teams tackles.
Harrison, 28, was signed by the Patriots as a free agent on March 15, 2012. He was originally drafted in 2008 by the Chicago Bears in the third round (90th overall) out of Arkansas. During his 37 career games over three seasons with the Bears, Harrison amassed 55 tackles, 3.0 sacks and three passes defensed. The 6-3, 310-pound lineman was released by Chicago on Sept. 3, 2011. He was signed by the Patriots as a free agent on Oct. 14, 2011 before being released on Oct. 15, 2011.
Holley, 28, signed with the Patriots on June 11, 2012. He is a veteran of two NFL seasons with the Dallas Cowboys (2010-11) and has played in 28 NFL games with seven receptions for 169 yards. The 6-foot-2, 200-pounder, originally entered the NFL as a rookie free agent with Cincinnati out North Carolina in 2007 and spent two weeks on the Bengals' practice squad before being released. After being out of football in 2008, he was awarded the final spot on the 2009 Dallas training camp roster after finishing as the winning contestant on former Cowboy Michael Irvin's national broadcast reality television show.
Hoyer, 26, is a veteran of three NFL seasons with the Patriots after originally joining the team as a rookie free agent out of Michigan State in 2009. The 6-foot-2, 215-pounder played in 13 games and completed 27-of-43 pass attempts for 286 yards with one touchdown and one interception in a backup role over the last three seasons. Last season, he played in three games and completed one pass for 22 yards.
Ihedigbo, 28, started in 12 of 16 games regular season games and all three postseason games for New England last season after joining the team as an unrestricted free agent from the New York Jets on Aug. 19, 2011. He finished the season with a career-high 72 total tackles, one pass defensed and four special teams tackles. He added 20 tackles and one sack in the postseason. Ihedigbo, 6-1, 214 pounds, is a veteran of five NFL seasons with the New York Jets (2007-10) and New England patriots and has started in 12 of 53 games and has 121 total tackles, 5.0 sacks, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery. He originally joined the NFL as a rookie free agent with the Jets out of Massachusetts in 2007. After spending his rookie season on injured reserve, Ihedigbo began his second year on the practice squad before being signed to the 53-man roster in late October. Ihedigbo is native of Northampton, Mass.
Kopa, 25, spent the 2011 season on the New England practice squad after being released by the Miami Dolphins after training camp. Originally signed by the San Francisco 49ers as a rookie free agent out of Stanford on June 8, 2010, the 6-foot-6, 310-pound offensive lineman started the year on the practice squad before being signed to the 53-man roster by Miami on Nov. 9, 2010. He was inactive for the final eight games with the Dolphins.
Koppen, 32, has started 120 of 121 games for the patriots over nine seasons with the club (2003-11). The 6-foot-2, 300-pounder originally joined the Patriots as a fifth round draft pick in 2003 out of Boston College. He earned a pro Bowl berth after the 2007 season and was a part of the 2003 and 2004 Super Bowl winning teams. Last season, Koppen started at center in the season opener at Miami but injured his leg and was placed on injured reserve.
Koutouvides, 31, appeared in each of the final 11 games of the Patriots' 2011 season, including each of their three playoff games. He originally signed with the Patriots on Aug. 14, 2011 during the 2011 preseason, but was released when the team trimmed the roster to 53 prior to the start of the season. He returned to the team at midseason and made his first start of the season at outside linebacker against the Indianapolis Colts less than a month later. He finished the 2011 season with eight defensive stops and nine special teams tackles. The 6-foot-2-inch, 228-pound linebacker was originally drafted by the Seattle Seahawks in the fourth round (116th overall) of the 2004 NFL Draft out of Purdue. He played four seasons with the Seahawks before signing with the Denver Broncos as an unrestricted free agent on March 3, 2008. He was released by the Broncos after the 2008 season and signed by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers a few weeks later, where he spent the next two seasons.
Tarpinian, 24, made the New England 53-man roster last season after joining the team as a rookie free agent out of Iowa. The 6-foot-3, 240-pounder played in seven games with one start and finished with four defensive tackles and eight special teams tackles. He was placed on injured reserve with a head injury on Nov. 24, 2011.
Martin, 27, signed with the patriots on Aug. 4, 2012. He is a veteran of six NFL seasons with Baltimore (2006-08), Green Bay (2009-10) and the New York Giants (2011). The 5-foot-10, 198-pounder originally entered the NFL as a sixth round draft pick (208th overall) of Baltimore out of Wyoming in the 2006 NFL Draft. He was traded by Baltimore to Green Bay on Sept. 5, 2009, for G Tony Moll. Martin was cut by Green Bay on March 2, 2011 and then signed with the Giants on August 13, 2012. Martin has played in 61 NFL games with four starts and has registered 30 total tackles, three interceptions and eight passes defensed. Last season with the Giants, he played in 14 games and all four postseason games, including Super Bowl XLVI against the Patriots.
Williams, 24, was selected by the Patriots in the seventh round of the 2011 NFL Draft with the 219th selection overall. Williams, 5-11, 200 pounds, originally signed with Oklahoma but ended up at Trinity Community College before going to Texas Christian University for the 2009 and 2010 seasons. He rotated between the 53-man roster and the practice squad following his original release after training camp. Williams played in two regular season games and all three postseason games, including Super Bowl XLVI.
Kettani, 25, spent the first month of the 2011 season on the New England practice squad before being released on Oct. 7 due to his military commitment. Kettani, 5-11, 235 pounds, originally was signed by the Patriots as a rookie free agent on May 4, 2009 out of Navy and was placed on the reserve military list on July 23, 2009. He was activated from the reserve military list on July 28, 2011. After being released after training camp last summer, Kettani was signed to the practice squad.
Lavarias, 24, spent time on the practice squads of Detroit and New England last season after originally joining the Patriots as a rookie free agent from Idaho. The 6-foot-3, 250-pounder began the year on the New England practice squad before being released and signed by the Lions to their practice squad. After being released by the Lions after a month, he re-joined the Patriots practice squad in late December.
Silvestro, 23, originally joined the Patriots a rookie free agent defensive lineman from Rutgers in 2011. The 6-foot-3, 260-pounder, spent the majority of his rookie season on the New England practice squad. He was signed to the 53-man roster prior to the Patriots game vs. Miami and played in a reserve role, finishing with two total tackles. Silvestro returned to the practice squad before being signed to the 53-man roster the day before the Super Bowl. He was active but did not play in the game. Silvestro converted to tight end in the offseason.
Taylor, 23, was claimed off waivers and awarded to the Patriots from Minnesota on Aug. 27, 2012. He spent a week on the New England practice squad last season in September. The 6-foot, 196-pounder was originally signed by Green Bay as a rookie free agent on July 28, 2011 out of Arizona State. He was released by Green Bay on Sept. 3, 2011. In addition to spending time on the Patriots' practice squad, Taylor also spent time on the practice squads of San Francisco and Minnesota last year. He was released by Minnesota on Aug. 25, 2012.
2012 DRAFT PICKS
Ebert, 23, a wide receiver from Northwestern, was selected by the Patriots in the seventh round of the 2012 NFL Draft with the 235th selection overall. The six-foot, 195-pounder, played in 52 games with 30 starts at Northwestern and finished his college career with 173 receptions for 2,400 yards and 21 touchdowns. He played in all 13 games in 2008 as a true freshman and was a starter in his final three seasons. Last season, he started all 13 games and led the team with 75 receptions for 1,060 yards and 11 touchdowns.
2012 ROOKIE FREE AGNETS
Dennis, 24, originally was signed by the Miami Dolphins as a rookie free agent out of Temple on May 4, 2012. He was released by Miami on July 26, 2012 and signed by the Patriots on Aug. 2, 2012.The 6-foot-3, 315 pounder started all 13 games of last season at left guard for Temple. He also saw action at center and tackle during his college career.
Urban, 22, originally entered the NFL as a rookie free agent with Tampa Bay out of West Virginia on April 30, 2012. The 6-foot-5, 249-pounder was released by Tampa Bay on May 17, 2012 and signed by the Patriots on June 11, 2012. Urban played as a wide receiver and tight end during his college career and accumulated 37 receptions for 429 yards and five touchdowns. Waldron, 22, originally was signed by the Miami Dolphins as a rookie free agent on May 4, 2012, out of Portland State. He was released by Miami on August 1, 2012 and claimed off waivers by the Patriots on Aug. 2, 2012. The 6-foot-5, 310-pounder was a three-year starter at left tackle and earned all conference honors as a senior.
Warren, 24, was signed by the Patriots as a rookie free agent on May 10, 2012. He started the final 38 games of his career at South Florida at guard. Warren, 6-4, 329 pounds, was named to the All-Big east second-team as a senior after starting all 12 games at guard.
Weems, 23, originally was signed by the Minnesota Vikings as a rookie free agent out of Oregon on May 4, 2012 and was released by the Vikings on July 24, 2012. He signed with the patriots on July 27, 2012. The 6-foot-5, 302 pounder started all 14 games at left tackle last season and was part of an offensive unit that ranked third in the nation in scoring, fifth in rushing and sixth in total offense.