Patriots cut 2005 Super Bowl MVP Deion Branch: NFL roster cuts
Canadian O.J. Atogwe cut by Eagles
Deion Branch tweeted his goodbye to the New England fans after being cut by the Patriots, as teams around the league whittled their rosters to the 53-man maximum on Friday.
The Most Valuable Player of the Patriots' 2005 Super Bowl victory said, "Truly thankful for all the support from everybody. I Love You guys #LovePeaceandHappiness."
He won two rings with the Patriots and tied a Super Bowl record with 11 catches for 133 yards against Philadelphia when he was voted MVP in 2005. He was the first receiver to win the honour since San Francisco's Jerry Rice in 1989.
Branch had 51 receptions for 702 yards and five touchdowns last season.
He spent the first four years of his career with New England before forcing a trade to the Seattle Seahawks in 2006 in a contract dispute.
Backup quarterbacks were prominent among players cut Friday.
Nine-year veteran Seneca Wallace was beaten out by Colt McCoy in Cleveland, Mike Kafka fell to rookie Nick Foles and journeyman Trent Edwards in Philadelphia, Brian Hoyer got axed in New England, Josh McCown was released by Chicago and 12th-year pro Sage Rosenfels didn't make the cut in Minnesota.
The Ravens released quarterback Curtis Painter, who started eight games for the Colts last season. He was in competition with Tyrod Taylor throughout the preseason to be the backup to Joe Flacco. And the San Francisco 49ers released quarterback Josh Johnson, who started five games in four seasons with Tampa Bay.
Other veterans released as team's prepare for the regular season, which begins Wednesday night with Dallas at the New York Giants, included centre Dan Koppen in New England; defensive backs O.J. Atogwe of Windsor, Ont., and Joselio Hanson in Philadelphia; Pittsburgh offensive lineman Trai Essex and punter Jeremy Kapinos, who were waived injured; Buffalo DT Dwan Edwards; and Giants running back D.J. Ware, who won two Super Bowls with the team.
'Worst day of the year'
"Today is the worst day of the year," said John Elway, executive vice president of football operations for the Denver Broncos. "The second-worst is last week when we get down to 75 because of these guys, they put their hearts and souls into being NFL football players. So, you end a lot of dreams and guys put a lot of sweat and tears into trying to make a team. So, it's always a very tough day."
Tenth-year cornerback Drayton Florence was cut when Elway decided to keep three quarterbacks in Denver.
Caleb Hanie stuck around even though he was sacked nine times in the preseason, an astonishing once every 4.3 drop-backs. The Broncos also kept rookie Brock Osweiler, a second-round draft pick who was selected with the intention of one day succeeding Peyton Manning.
Of course, if Manning has his way, neither Hanie nor Osweiler will see the field this season.
Teams had until 9 p.m. ET to trim their rosters to 53. They have until Noon ET Saturday to put in waiver claims and sign up to eight practice squad players.
Other notable cuts included:
- Running back Tim Hightower of Washington. The Redskins also let go safety Tanard Jackson, who was suspended indefinitely by the NFL for violating the league's substance abuse policy.
- Former Pro Bowl punter Mat McBriar of the Eagles.
- Veteran defensive ends Dave Ball and Leger Douzable were placed on IR by the Tennessee Titans.
- Former first-round draft pick Vernon Gholston of the St. Louis Rams.
- Outside linebacker Clark Haggans, a 12-year NFL veteran, by the Arizona Cardinals.
- Long snapper Justin Snow, who had played in 192 straight games for the Indianapolis Colts, the second-longest streak in franchise history behind Manning.
- Fullback Rock Cartwright of the San Francisco 49ers.
- Long-time defensive end Jacques Cesaire and veteran fullback Jacob Hester of the San Diego Chargers.
- Kicker John Kasay, 42, and veteran receiver Greg Camarillo of the New Orleans Saints.
The 31-year-old Wallace spent two seasons with the Browns, who acquired him in a 2011 trade from Seattle, where he played for Browns President Mike Holmgren. Wallace started seven games for Cleveland.
Kafka, a fourth-round pick in 2010, appeared in four games last year. He completed 11 of 16 passes for 107 yards with two interceptions. Kafka played in one preseason game this summer before breaking his non-throwing hand.
"There was great competition at the quarterback position," Eagles coach Andy Reid said. "That's what football and training camp is all about. In the end, we had to make the difficult decision to let Mike Kafka go. Mike is a class act, a student of the game and a great person and I think he'll have no problem finding a job in the National Football League very soon."
Hoyer was Tom Brady's backup the past three years, but lost the job to Ryan Mallet.
McCown was coaching quarterbacks at a North Carolina high school and hadn't taken an NFL snap since 2009 when the Bears signed him last November with Jay Cutler sidelined by a broken right thumb. McCown appeared in three games, starting two, but the Bears have Jason Campbell as their No. 2 QB.
It was not a good day for Alphonso Smith — either of them. The Arizona Cardinals' running back and his namesake, the Detroit Lions' defensive back, both failed to make their teams.
Former Baylor player Robert Griffin was cut. No, not that one.
Among the Jets' cuts was tackle Robert T. Griffin, who blocked for Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin III at Baylor and was New York's sixth-round draft pick. He is not related to the Redskins quarterback chosen No. 2 overall in the draft.
Of course, in this day and age, the final cuts are never really final. Teams will be tweaking their rosters over the weekend and well beyond.
"Everything's fluid," Elway said. "The only guy that's set [in Denver] is 18."