Deion Branch was recently called “unimpressive” by the Boston Globe’s Greg Bedard after New England’s OTA workouts.
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Patriots receiver Deion Branch tweeted his goodbye to the New England fans amid reports that he has been cut by the team.
The Most Valuable Player of the Patriots' 2005 Super Bowl victory said, "Truly thankful for all the support from everybody. I Love You guys (hash)LovePeaceandHappiness."
Branch, an Albany native and former Monroe star, was reportedly among the cuts the team made Friday as it got down to the NFL limit of 53 for next week's opener. Also let go were backup quarterback Brian Hoyer and center Dan Koppen. Cuts were due to the league by 9 p.m.; the team had no announcement on Friday afternoon.
Branch, 33, re-signed with the Patriots in March after spending parts of six seasons in New England. He recorded 51 catches for 702 yards and five touchdowns last year, and has 502 receptions for 6,499 yards and 39 touchdowns in his career.
Branch had a relatively quiet preseason for the Patriots, playing in just two of the team's four games. He started against Philadelphia and caught three passes for 51 yards and came off the bench against Tampa Bay to make just one catch for 13 yards.
Attemps by The Herald to reach Branch on Friday were unsuccessful, but the receiver did tell The Herald back in June during his annual Skills and Drills Football Camp in Albany that he always feels like he is competing for a starting job.
"Every year since my rookie year I have been fighting for a spot," Branch said. "Nobody is safe, but if you prepare yourself mentally and physically, you don't worry about that. That stuff is in the coach's hands.
"My job is to just go out and do me. You can't control decision making. I'm not in the personnel department. Those days will come when I get to do that, but right now my job is to play ball."
Earlier in June, Boston Globe sportswriter Greg Bedard reported that it was up in the air whether or not Branch would secure a roster spot because of his "unimpressive" OTAs. Branch disagreed with the report when The Herald made him aware of it in late June.
"My OTAs were great," Branch said. "I'm telling you, they were great. I felt great."
Branch's spot on the team appeared safe after the Patriots cut receivers Donte' Stallworth and Jabar Gaffney earlier this week.
Branch was a two-time Super Bowl champion with the Patriots, and was named MVP of their victory over the Philadelphia Eagles in 2005 after tying a Super Bowl record with 11 catches for 133 yards. He was the first receiver to win the honor since San Francisco's Jerry Rice in 1989.
He then spent four injury-plagued seasons with the Seattle Seahawks before returning to New England during the 2010 season.
Hoyer's departure signals the emergence of Ryan Mallet as the backup to Tom Brady, as well as the team's preference to carry just two quarterbacks on the roster.
Hoyer, 26, signed with New England as an undrafted rookie out of Michigan State in 2009 and served as Brady's backup the past three seasons. He has played in just 13 regular season games with no starts. He completed 13 of 32 passes for 100 yards with a touchdown and no interceptions during the preseason, while Mallet went 25 of 52 for 260 yards with three touchdowns and one interception.
--- Full story in Saturday's Herald