Deion Branch told the Boston Globe what most New England Patriots fans know or suspected already; that he would love to rejoin the Patriots if given that opportunity in the future. He said, “I’d love to be back. I’d embrace it and pick up right where I left off at.”
If Branch does get a shot at returning the Patriots, it will likely be in a few weeks or in the middle of the seasons. It’s hard to see him playing for another team if the Pats have interest in him, which they likely will at some point in the future. The trade to acquire Greg Salas downplayed the importance of signing Branch sooner, but the Patriots could have room for him due to injury, inconsistency, or the desire to add a better No. 3 receiver.
As it stands, the Patriots group of pass-catchers is so talented that it’s getting tough to figure out who will be getting the brunt of the targets in any given game. Against the Tennessee Titans, Wes Welker played a limited role in the Pats offense, and that’s going to be a common theme this season. Not for Welker but for the Pats receivers; there is going to be someone who is going to be used a lot less than the others.
It was interesting to see Julian Edelman getting quite a bit of reps in the slot, and I think Edelman’s usage impacts Branch’s hopes at returning more than it does Welker’s role in the offense. Although Branch isn’t a slot receiver, I would have to think that the Pats coaching staff would be less inclined to want another receiver if they see enough from Edelman.
In any case, my guess is that Branch returns to the team at some point this season but will almost definitely play a very limited role in the Patriots offense.
You can follow Joe Soriano on Twitter @SorianoJoe.