The New England Patriots turned to a division rival for help restocking their defense, agreeing to a one-year contract with former New York Jets linebacker Brandon Copeland, according to multiple reports Sunday.
The Boston Globe first reported the agreement, which ESPN later termed a deal worth $1.05 million.
The 6-foot-3, 268-pound Copeland joins the Patriots during a free agency period in which they have already lost three linebackers to other teams, including Kyle Van Noy and Elandon Roberts (Miami Dolphins) along with Jamie Collins (Detroit Lions). All three players are joining former Bill Belichick assistants who now hold head coaching positions — Brian Flores with Miami and Matt Patricia with Detroit.
Copeland, 28, posted a career-high 42 tackles in just 12 games (one start) last season with New York, adding 1.5 sacks and five tackles for loss. He was suspended for the season’s first four games for violating the NFL’s policy on performance-enhancing drugs, the first missed games of his four-year career.
Copeland’s best season came in 2018, his first with the Jets, when he racked up a career-best five sacks and 10 games started, in addition to 35 tackles (eight for loss).
Originally an undrafted free agent out of the University of Pennsylvania in 2013, he has collected 107 tackles and seven sacks in 60 career games (14 starts) with the Detroit Lions (2015-16) and Jets (2018-19). Copeland missed the 2017 season with Detroit due to a torn pectoral muscle.