News broke last night that the Patriots have indeed traded for former Super Bowl MVP Deion Branch. There had been rumors swirling all week that New England in Seattle had been in talks to bring back Brady's favorite target from the 2003 and 2004 Championship seasons. It's been a while since Pats fans have had a good look at Branch, so I asked Chris Sullivan from Seahawk Addicts what we can expect from the him this year.
Branch has slowed down quite a bit after his injury-plagued time in Seattle, but he's still a solid route runner and is smart enough to find open space. Think Wes Welker with 1/3 the scrap and 2/3 the speed. Still, he never seemed happy in Seattle and I think he will do much better (again) in New England. Don't look for him to be a superstar -- in fact, I wouldn't expect a whole lot out of him early. When the weather gets colder and the multiple receivers coming off ACL injuries start aching in November, I think Branch can come in and be a factor. Until then, I'd look for him to be a third down specialist -- he can be where he's supposed to be when he's supposed to be there.
My personal take is this: I think Branch will be a big boost to our receiving corps. He's familiar with the system and already has amazing chemistry with Brady. I know the tight ends are playing a larger role, but it was a little scary to think that our only proven receiver following the Moss trade was Wes Welker coming off an ACL tear. The 4th round pick price tag was probably a little rich and one could argue that a higher-caliber player could be had for what we're sending to Seattle. On the other hand, the Patriots can only bring in so many rookies next year and two picks in each of the first four rounds might have been excessive. Also, it's important to consider that we're already five weeks into the season and a "higher-caliber" player would likely not be able to step in and contribute as quickly as Branch will.
Overall, I give BB a big thumbs up on this deal.