Veteran wide receiver Deion Branch once again finds himself in the free agent waters, as the New England Patriots have dropped the 33-year-old and former Super Bowl MVP. The Patriots likely released Branch in order to bring up Greg Salas from the practice squad, whom they have invested a draft pick in after acquiring him from the St. Louis Rams in what was a solid trade for New England.
Salas seems to be highly valued by the organization, because the Patriots protected him on the practice squad by increasing his salary so that other teams could not poach him. He has the makings of a solid possession receiver and has more to offer to this team than Branch does.
Last week against the Buffalo Bills, the New England Patriots gave Deion Branch eight targets to work with in his most heavily-used game. He flopped big time and was the LVP on offense by averaging just 3.75 yards per target. Branch’s veteran know-how in run blocking was seen and he is still good in that regard, but his performance as a pass-catcher shows that he’s nearing the end of the line.
That’s not big news or anything, and I would much rather give Salas the playing time. It’s going to be tough to see Branch go, but I have a feeling the parting of ways won’t be for too long. He should rejoin the team at some point in the future, but there is no doubt that Salas has more upside and is the better player at this point in time. We are all appreciative of what Branch has done for the franchise and will miss his veteran leadership down the stretch, but talent is the primary factor in winning games. Salas has more talent.
Add in the fact that he is suffering from hamstring issues, and the decision to promote Salas from the practice squad and release Branch makes even more sense.
Let’s see which team claims Branch off of waivers.
You can follow Joe Soriano on Twitter @SorianoJoe.