A trade that has been rumored since the offseason has finally occurred: the Pats have traded a 2011 fourth-round draft pick to Seattle for WR Deion Branch. Branch will be reunited with friend and inside advocate for the trade QB Tom Brady. Brady had been in contact with Branch since he learned of the pending Moss trade, and had hoped to get his long-time friend back on the team. Branch will help fill the void at receiver created by the trade of Randy Moss to the Vikings. One thing Branch will have to do upon his arrival to Foxborough is pick a new number- Wes Welker currently holds Branch’s # 83.
It’s unclear how much Branch still has after having multiple surgeries since arriving in Seattle, but he has a few key factors working to his advantage returning to New England. Branch has deep knowledge and experience with the Patriots’ complicated offensive system, which should allow him to jump in with little catch-up. He also better suits what made the Patriot offense so effective during the Super Bowl years. He can get open on the short-to-intermediate passing routes and can line up at multiple receiver spots. Branch also does have the ability to stretch a defense on occasion. Finally, Branch brings some Super Bowl experience to a young team that, despite its struggles on defense, is sitting among the top in the league with a 3-1 record. With all of the receiving options the Patriots currently have, factoring in the tight ends, Branch should be able to ease himself back into the offense, though I fully expect him to be dressed and ready to go against the Ravens Sunday afternoon.
For those of you that may have forgotten Deion Branch’s time in New England, ESPNBoston has posted some highlights of Branch’s career with the Patriots.