Copeland began his career by signing with his hometown Ravens as a UDFA in 2013. It was not until two years later that he made his first regular season appearances, though. He played two campaigns in Detroit before the two-year Jets stint during which he logged 13 of his 21 career starts.
The 32-year-old was used on the edge in 2018, and he found success in that role. Copeland totaled five sacks and 14 quarterback hits, though he was unable to parlay that into a long-term deal from New York or any other team. He bounced around the league after the end of his Jets tenure, including stops in New England, Atlanta and a return to Baltimore this past season. The Penn alum played three games early in the year while being elevated from the Ravens’ practice squad.
“It’s time,” Copeland said when asked about his decision to hang up his cleats. “One of the pieces of advice I got from my granddad, going into my rookie year in the NFL, we sat down and did an interview and somebody said – because he was a Baltimore Colt and I was a Baltimore Raven – they asked what advice would you give to your grandson as he enters the NFL?
“And he said, ‘If I could tell him anything, if I could do anything different, it would be don’t play as long.'”
As was also the case for Copeland’s grandfather, Roy Hinton, he managed to remain in the NFL for 10 years, although his games played total (85) is much lower in large part due to the fact he missed the entire 2017 campaign. Copeland dealt with a number of injuries over the course of his career, and underwent three knee surgeries. Rather than trying to find a roster or practice squad opportunity at the start of another new season, he will turn his attention to his post-playing days.
As Rothstein notes, Copeland has already been busy in off-the-field matters even during his career. That includes teaching a financial literacy course at Penn each year since 2019. He will depart the NFL with just over $6.7MM in career earnings.