The New England Patriots reduced their quarterback depth chart Wednesday, releasing Cody Kessler.

The move leaves the Patriots with just Jarrett Stidham and newly re-acquired Brian Hoyer at QB. Veteran Tom Brady left last week, signing a two-year, $50 million free agent deal with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Last year, Kessler served as the Patriots' third-stringer behind Brady and Stidham for much of the season, never getting into a game. The Patriots signed him on Sept. 25, released him on Oct. 15 and re-signed him on Oct. 28.

The 26-year-old University of Southern California product played previously with the Cleveland Browns and the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Cleveland selected Kessler in the third round of the 2016 draft, and he made nine appearances for the Browns as a rookie, going 0-8 as a starter. He made three appearances as a backup for Cleveland the next year, then went 2-2 as a starter while playing in five games for the Jaguars in 2018.

In 17 career NFL games (12 starts), Kessler has completed 64.2 percent of his passes for 2,215 yards with eight touchdowns and five interceptions. He was in camp with the Philadelphia Eagles last summer but didn't make the team.

Hoyer, 34, rejoined the Patriots for a third stint on March 22, reportedly agreeing to a one-year, $1.05 million deal. He previously backed up Brady from 2009-11 and 2017-18. Hoyer also has played for the Arizona Cardinals, the Browns, the Houston Texans, the Chicago Bears, the San Francisco 49ers and the Indianapolis Colts.

In 11 NFL seasons, Hoyer has a 16-22 record as a starter, having completed 59.1 percent of his passes for 10,274 yards with 52 touchdowns and 34 interceptions.

Stidham, 23, was selected by New England in the fourth round of the 2019 draft. The Auburn product appeared briefly in three games last year, completing 2 of 4 passes for 14 yards with one interception.

The Patriots have the 23rd pick in this month's draft, and the three top-ranked quarterback prospects -- LSU's Joe Burrow, Alabama's Tua Tagovailoa and Oregon's Justin Herbert -- are expected to be off the board by then.

USA Today reported that the Patriots met at the scouting combine with Herbert, Utah State's Jordan Love, Georgia's Jake Fromm and Oregon State's Jake Luton.

In his latest mock draft, ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr. has New England selecting Love at No. 23.