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Reports: Patriots bring back Brian Hoyer, add LB Brandon Copeland

Veteran quarterback returns for his third stint in New England as Pats also add a linebacker.


Just a day after being released by the Colts, Brian Hoyer will be returning to the Patriots for a third time per NFL Network's Ian Rapoport, while in a separate report, the Boston Globe's Jim McBride says the team will also be adding former Jets linebacker Brandon Copeland. McBride also had the Hoyer signing as well.

After making the Patriots as an undrafted rookie in 2009, Hoyer spent three years in New England before moving on and starting 39 career games with five different teams. He returned to the Patriots after they parted ways with Jimmy Garoppolo and served as Tom Brady's backup in 2017 and 2018. He was beaten out by Jarrett Stidham last summer, and signed a three-year deal with the Colts. He started one game in 2019 and was released earlier this weekend.

Hoyer's return gives the Patriots a veteran backup to help ease the transition from Tom Brady. It is assumed Jarrett Stidham is the favorite to take over as the starter and Hoyer should give the second-year quarterback an experienced sounding board as well as a layer of injury protection. With Cody Kessler also in the mix, it would appear that the Patriots are set at the position though a draft pick could still be in play.

The veteran should be a calming influence back in New England and a level of insurance, as it was believed the team had wanted to bring him back after cutdowns before he signed the lucrative deal in Indy last summer.

Copeland brings linebacker depth

After losing three linebackers already this free agency season, the Patriots are reportedly making a move to reinforce the position with veteran linebacker Brandon Copeland. Copeland broke into the league in 2013 as an undrafted rookie but was cut by the Ravens out of camp and joined the Titans practice squad later that season.

In 2015, he landed with the Lions and became a special teams contributor, playing about 70 percent of the special teams snaps over two seasons in Detroit with limited time at linebacker (200 total snaps in two seasons). He joined the Jets in 2018 and started 10 games, chipping in five sacks to go with 35 tackles. He'd miss the first four games of 2019 due to a suspension for violating the league's policy on performance enhancing drugs, but returned to play 12 games with three starts, recording 42 tackles while remaining a core special teamer.

Copeland isn't a splashy addition but is the kind of experienced mid-range free agent with special teams experience that is right in the Patriots wheelhouse. His 2018 numbers with the Jets were promising, with 27 pressures and at 6'3", 263 pounds he has good size to play on the edge of the Patriots defense. He primarily played off the left side for the Jets, the spot formerly occupied by Kyle Van Noy, and will give the team a baseline outside linebacker, but the position is still likely to be addressed in the draft.

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