New England Patriots cut-down analysis

August, 31, 2012
8/31/12
10:13
PM ET
Click here for a complete list of New England Patriots' roster moves.

Most significant move: New England cut three veterans who were important pieces the past few seasons: wide receiver Deion Branch, center Dan Koppen and backup quarterback Brian Hoyer. Koppen wasn't a huge surprise. New England played the veteran lineman extensively in the fourth preseason game -- and he was part of the issue with struggles on the offensive line this summer. But Branch and Hoyer were surprises. Branch battled some injuries but is reliable and brings plenty of leadership. The Patriots spent the past several years developing Hoyer behind quarterback Tom Brady and decided this was the time to go in another direction. Granted, Hoyer struggled this preseason and second-year quarterback Ryan Mallett played a little better. But it's a little surprising that New England didn't keep him as at least the third quarterback. Hoyer's salary probably has a lot to do with it.

Onward and upward: Jeff Demps' first attempt at the NFL was a short one. The Olympic sprinter suffered an unfortunate leg injury in the fourth quarter of the final preseason game and was put on injured reserve. Demps showed flashes in his limited time this preseason. New England signed him to a three-year contract, and now Demps has to rehab to get healthy for another try. Potential is there for 2013 with New England. I also expect Branch to be on the short list with New England if a receiver gets injured during the season. Branch might know this and not accept an offer from just any team unless it's a viable contender.

What’s next: There’s not much left to do for the reigning AFC champions. This roster is stacked and, based on their cuts, it's clear the Patriots like some of their young players. Cuts like Branch, Koppen and Hoyer prove that New England has a lot of confidence in its youngsters filling key roles.

James Walker | email

ESPN Miami Dolphins reporter

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