Brandon Copeland

Falcons Re-Sign Brandon Copeland

Brandon Copeland‘s free agency didn’t last long. Just a couple days after being released by the Falcons the veteran linebacker has re-signed with Atlanta, the team announced Monday.

It seems his release on Saturday was just a procedural move to ensure his salary didn’t become guaranteed. Vested veterans have their contracts guaranteed for the year when they’re on a Week 1 roster. Originally an UDFA out of Penn back in 2013, it took Copeland a few years to find his footing in the league. He eventually broke out in 2018 with the Jets.

He started 10 games for New York that year, racking up five sacks and 14 QB hits while operating as an outside linebacker. The Ivy League grad again played a sizable role with the Jets in 2019, then signed with the Patriots last year. A torn pec limited him to six games, but he started four of them for New England.

He then landed with the Falcons back in March. Atlanta got drubbed by the Eagles in their season opener on Sunday, so they could use all the help they can get.

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Falcons Release LB Brandon Copeland

The Falcons made an interesting Week 1 decision. They are releasing veteran linebacker Brandon Copeland, per Sports Talk 790’s Aaron Wilson (on Twitter).

A former Jets and Patriots starter, Copeland signed with the Falcons during the first week of free agency. The Falcons filled Copeland’s roster spot by promoting linebacker James Vaughters from their practice squad.

Atlanta added Copeland, 30, on a league-minimum deal. This cut will prevent Copeland’s $990K base salary from becoming guaranteed. Vested veterans on Week 1 rosters have their 2021 salaries guaranteed. While Copeland could end up back with the Falcons on a team-friendlier pact or on a practice squad deal, he is in free agency for the time being.

The ex-UDFA recorded five sacks and 14 QB hits for the Jets in 2018, working as an edge player for a team long weakened at that skill, but saw an injury stall his career. A torn pec ended Copeland’s Patriots run in October 2020. The Pats used Copeland as a four-game starter last season. Copeland appeared on Atlanta’s injury report this week with a hamstring ailment but got in a full practice Friday.

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Falcons To Sign Brandon Copeland

The Falcons have agreed to a one-year deal with Brandon Copeland (Twitter link via ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter). The former Patriots linebacker missed much of last season with a torn pec, but he’s closing in on a complete recovery.

[RELATED: Falcons To Sign Harris]

Copeland, an ex-Jets and Lions contributor, also drew interest from the Giants. It’s not clear whether the incumbent Pats tried to bring him back or not. Before the injury, Copeland was ticketed for a major role as Dont’a Hightower’s fill-in. He wound up playing in just six games with four starts, but Pro Football Focus gave him strong grades in that limited sample.

His 2018 Jets season marked his only year as a starter. In 16 games, he notched five sacks and 14 quarterback hits. So far, that’s his only season with more than two sacks.

Terms of the deal are not yet known, but this could prove to be a strong value signing for Atlanta. At least, that’s the hope, given how quiet the Falcons’ week has been.

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LB Brandon Copeland To Visit Falcons, Giants

Despite suffering a torn pectoral muscle last season, Brandon Copeland has generated some interest as a free agent. The veteran linebacker plans to meet with the Falcons and Giants, per Sirius XM Radio’s Adam Caplan and ESPN.com’s Michael Rothstein (Twitter links).

The Giants visit occurred Thursday, per Caplan, who adds the Falcons meeting will also occur this week (Twitter link). Copeland suffered the chest injury in late October, ending his Patriots season after six games.

A former Lions and Jets contributor, Copeland signed with the Patriots last year. The Pats, who both lost multiple key linebackers in free agency and saw Dont’a Hightower opt out of last season, used Copeland as a starter in four games. Pro Football Focus viewed the five-year vet’s abbreviated work well, slotting him near the top of its 2020 linebacker hierarchy.

The Lions used Copeland as a backup from 2016-17, but he broke into the 2018 Jets’ starting lineup. Copeland worked as a pass rusher that season, recording five sacks and 14 quarterback hits. That marked the veteran linebacker’s only season with more than two sacks. The 2021 season will be Copeland’s age-30 slate.

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Minor NFL Transactions: 10/28/20

Here are Wednesday’s minor moves:

Houston Texans

  • Activated from IR: WR Isaiah Coulter

Los Angeles Rams

Minnesota Vikings

New England Patriots

New Orleans Saints

New York Jets

Patriots LB Brandon Copeland Done For The Year

The Patriots got steamrolled on Sunday when they lost 33-6 to the 49ers, and now they’ll be without a key depth piece moving forward. Linebacker Brandon Copeland has told teammates he has a torn pec and is done for the season, a source told Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com (Twitter link).

Copeland, signed to a cheap one-year deal back in March, is a core special teamer but has also been playing a real role on defense this year. He’s played a decent chunk of the defensive snaps in a few games, and is credited with four starts. His 2020 season will conclude with 12 tackles, one for a loss.

The Penn product signed with the Ravens as an UDFA back in 2013, but he didn’t make his regular season debut until 2015 with the Lions. After two years in Detroit as a special teamer he tore a pec in the 2017 preseason, and signed with the Jets the following year where he earned a big role on defense. In 16 games and 10 starts with New York in 2018, he racked up five sacks, two passes defended, and eight tackles for loss.

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Patriots To Sign Brandon Copeland

Linebacker Brandon Copeland has come to an agreement with the Patriots on a one-year deal, per Jim McBride of the Boston Globe. Copeland can receive up to $1.1MM in the deal, according to NFL Insider Adam Caplan.

Over his four-year career, Copeland has split his time with the Lions and Jets. While he has only started 14 games over his four-year career (10 of which came in 2018), he has appeared in 60 games accruing 107 tackles, 14 tackles for loss, and 7 sacks.

In 2019, with the Jets, Copeland received a 58.6 player grade from Pro Football Focus, which was the 49th highest grade of 89 qualified linebackers.

Jets Waive QB Luke Falk

Luke Falk‘s tenure with the Jets has come to an end. The team waived the quarterback this morning. Taking his spot on the roster is linebacker Brandon Copeland, who had been suspended for the first four games of the season.

With both Sam Darnold and Trevor Siemian out of the lineup, the Jets were forced to turn to the 24-year-old Falk, who had previously been sitting on the organization’s practice squad. He ended up getting into three games for New York, completing 64.4-percent of his passes for 416 yards, three interceptions, and zero scores. The Jets were outscored 20-61 in his two starts.

With Darnold set to return tomorrow vs. the Cowboys, Falk’s days as a starter were clearly over. However, the Jets won’t even keep him around as a backup, instead turning to David Fales. Falk, a 2018 sixth-round pick out of Washington State, will now be looking to join his fourth team in less than two seasons. There’s always a chance he could land back on the Jets practice squad.

Copeland joined the Jets last season and ended up having a career year, compiling 35 tackles and five sacks in 16 games (10 starts). In August, he was slapped with a four-game ban for violating the league’s policy on performance-enhancing substances.

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East Rumors: Cowboys, Patriots, Copeland

The Jaylon Smith extension tethers the emerging linebacker to the Cowboys through the 2025 season, and Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk notes the deal will give 24-year-old standout $19MM fully guaranteed at signing. Both this figure and Smith’s AAV ($12.5MM) place him sixth among off-ball linebackers, giving this pact a win-win feel for the Cowboys and a player who recovered from a serious injury to move into lucrative extension position.

Smith will be 30 by the time this contract expires but will only be 27 by the time the guarantees stop in 2022. The deal contains a $5.17MM base salary for 2020, which is fully guaranteed, and a $7.2MM base for 2021. This contract includes injury guarantees for both Smith’s 2021 and 2022 base salaries — $7.2MM and $9.2MM, respectively — and those become full guarantees on the fifth day of each year. Additionally, the deal contains a $500K de-escalator, Florio adds. This will take effect if Smith fails to show for 90% of Dallas’ offseason workouts.

The Cowboys still have the same four key UFAs-to-be as they did to start the week — Dak Prescott, Amari Cooper, Byron Jones and La’el Collins — and Ezekiel Elliott remains a holdout. But the team checked off a key piece of its complicated contract checklist in locking down Smith, who would have been a 2020 RFA.

Here is the latest from the East divisions:

  • More good news for the Patriots‘ wide receiver situation. Demaryius Thomas came off the active/PUP list, Mike Reiss of ESPN.com tweets. This marks a key step for the former Pro Bowler. Thomas is not a lock to make New England’s 53-man roster and can no longer be stashed on the team’s reserve/PUP list to start the season. With Thomas unlikely to play in New England’s fourth preseason game, he has a short time to prove he belongs on the final roster. But the Pats taking him off their PUP list leads NESN.com’s Doug Kyed to project the 31-year-old target will be one of the 53-man unit’s receivers.
  • Josh Gordon‘s return obviously strengthens the Pats’ receiving corps, but it will make their roster crunch more difficult. Gordon, Thomas, Julian Edelman, N’Keal Harry, rookie Jakobi Meyers, Phillip Dorsett and Maurice Harris will not all be on the Pats’ 53-man roster, and Ben Volin of the Boston Globe looks to have Harris on the wrong side of the bubble (Twitter link). The former Redskins auxiliary cog signed with the Pats in free agency and impressed early in camp, but he’s dealing with a leg injury presently. The recent developments involving higher-profile players may push him back to free agency.
  • Brandon Copeland issued a denial in knowingly taking a banned substance, via Instagram. While this could be expected, given how post-PED fallouts usually unfold, the Jets linebacker is out four games. This further thins out the Jets’ edge defender crew, which was already a weak spot for the AFC’s Big Apple franchise. Copeland registered five sacks last season.

NFL Suspends Jets LB Brandon Copeland

Another linebacker down for the Jets. On Wednesday, Brandon Copeland was suspended four games by the NFL for performance-enchanting substances. 

Copeland’s suspension comes on the heels of Avery Williamson‘s season-ending ACL tear, leaving the Jets even thinner in the LB group. The club already signed former Saints and Dolphins ‘backer Stephone Anthony to help fill the gap, but they could go shopping once again for depth.

Copeland is eligible to participate in the Jets’ two remaining preseason contests as well as their remaining preseason practices, but he’ll be barred from playing until Oct. 7, thanks to the Jets’ Week 4 bye.

In 2018, his first year with the Jets, Copeland managed 35 tackles and five sacks. He played the full 16-game slate, including ten starts.

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