After the New England Patriots released Jabar Gaffney and Donte’ Stallworth, the common thought was that Deion Branch was a lock to make the 53-man roster and immediately play as the team’s No. 3 wide receiver. After all, Branch has a good rapport with Tom Brady, had a strong camp, he has the respect of the teammates and fans, and he played pretty well in the preseason.
Well, the Pats released Branch and that made it look like Jeremy Ebert, Jesse Holley, and the recently claimed Kerry Taylor would have an increased chance of making the roster with one of them making it. That one player was expected to be Ebert, but Branch’s release didn’t benefit him or any of those three receivers for that matter. All three of them were cut, leaving four receivers left on the Patriots 53-man roster.
Matthew Slater has been making strides as a receiver in training camp and the Patriots are keeping four tight ends after deciding to retain solid veteran Visanthe Shiancoe. And, to be fair, Shiancoe is clearly better than all four of the receivers that the Pats cut. I was talking with staff writer Tim Dillon, and he thinks the Patriots will split Aaron Hernandez out wide more often this upcoming season.
To me, the interesting question is, why did the Patriots claim Taylor off of waivers? He played for the Pats practice squad at one point before signing on with the Minnesota Vikings. I bet he ends up on the practice squad, as will Ebert.
As for Deion Branch, he says he’s open to rejoining the Patriots, and I think that’s what ends up happening. The Pats probably aren’t done retooling the roster, and they probably released him to make room for another player. Branch will likely sign on later, because I doubt he goes somewhere else. He knows the value of playing for a winner like the Pats and has a terrific connection with Brady.
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