FOXBOROUGH — 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 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 yesterday 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’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.
New England drafted Mallet out of Arkansas in the third round of the 2011 draft and he served as the third-stringer last season.
Koppen had been New England’s starting center since 2003 and had been a part of all three Patriots Super Bowl victories. The 10-year veteran fractured his ankle in the season opener last year and missed the rest of the season.