Could Deion Branch’s return cure the Patriots’ offensive woes?


Trade rumors are starting to heat up that Bill Belichick will make a play for Seahawks receiver and former Patriot Deion Branch. Branch, the MVP of Super Bowl XXXIX, was traded to Seattle for a first round pick and the receiving corps wasn’t the same until Randy Moss and Wes Welker were acquired. However, after the record-breaking 2007 season, the offense hasn’t been able to find a third receiver to compliment Welker and Moss. At times this season, the offense was very predictable and couldn’t put a game away. Now, the Patriots likely won’t enter the 2010 season with Welker available to play, leaving only Randy Moss, Sam Aiken, Julian Edelman, and Brandon Tate. Hardly names you want to rely on to carry your offense.

The Patriots are likely to add to that mix with a free agent pick-up or two and likely at least one draft pick. However, with a new regime in Seattle and an uncapped season likely, the team can start fresh and unload Branch without worrying about salary cap implications. Deion, who still is in contact with current and former Patriots, would not be upset returning to the Patriots. There are no hard feelings between him and Belichick, and he still feels very strong about his former QB, Tom Brady. The Boston Herald asked him about what he thought of a reunion, here’s part of what he had to say:

I still love coach Belichick, and if the opportunity presents itself to come back, I would love to be there. I still talk to Tom to this day, and the crazy part is, you never lose that relationship with guys, especially when you do something special, which is what we did in my first four years in New England. I still talk with half of the team. To this day, I still talk with half of the guys that were on the team with me. It’s a special bond. For us to reunite, I don’t know. I would probably be crying at the press conference, if it happens. Look, I’ve enjoyed my time with the Seahawks. I would love to stay in Seattle. But if it happens, if it presents itself, that would be great.”

But that doesn’t mean that he wants out of Seattle either.

I’m very happy in Seattle — Put that on the front page of everything. I don’t want people to get it misconstrued. I have a contract. I’m a loyal football player, and I’ll play my contract out.”

There are two things that would hamper this trade from happening. First and foremost is the compensation Seattle would receive in the trade. I’m not sure what they’re asking, but it would be foolish for the Patriots to give up anything more than a 4th round draft pick. As much as I would love to see Deion back in Patriot colors, he is 30 and has had some major knee surgery. While he says that he is back to 100%, there is still a risk. The second roadblock is Branch’s contract. This season he is due $5.47 million and next year he is due $5.95 million. Those are numbers that would have to be renegotiated and lowered if this trade were to happen. It’s not impossible, but it’s an obstacle that would have to be overcome.

It would be nice to see the chemistry rekindled between Tom Brady and Deion Branch. They knew what each other was thinking and it translated to magic on the football field. Branch working the field with Moss and Edelman and eventually Welker as well could provide the boost the offense needs. I feel that this trade may actually happen. There seems to be mutual interest and when there’s mutual interest, things start moving. One thing is certain, the Patriots cannot simply head in to 2010 with its current crop of receivers and expect the same or better result.