Roster Shuffle Reaction: Patriots Sign Winslow, Branch; Release Three

Derek Havens
September 18, 2012 at 11:26pm ET

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The Patriots were very busy on Tuesday, making a multitude of roster moves. The team released wide receiver Greg Salas, linebacker Mike Rivera and fullback Lex Hilliard.







The Patriots re-signed wide receiver Deion Branch on Tuesday. (FILE:USPresswire)

With the three open roster spots, the Pats started to fill them by signing tight end Kellen Winslow, Jr. and re-signing wide receiver Deion Branch.

The team has one open roster spot remaining, which I would expect to be filled on Wednesday.

Analysis:

The Salas release surprised me given the depth on the depth chart at receiver and he was just acquired in a trade from the Rams on Sept. 1. In exchange for Salas, the Patriots sent St. Louis a seventh-round pick in 2015. Curious why he did not stick.

The corresponding move by New England, however, did not surprise me. For those of you who follow me on Twitter, I mentioned how I expected Jabar Gaffney or Deion Branch to return once Salas was cut.

Like many other Pats fans, I was very happy once the news broke Branch was returning. Yes, he is older, slower and not the same player he use to be, but he is still a very capable and dependable player for an offense that needs some stability at the moment. Also, he was very productive last season; starting 15 games, catching 51 passes for 702 yards and five touchdowns in the 2011 season.

On the Winslow signing, I thought the move made a lot of sense with Aaron Hernandez reportedly sidelined for a few weeks. Winslow also as not missed a game in the past three seasons, despite having a reported knee issue. Last season the 29-year-old tight end caught 75 catches, for 763 yards and two touchdowns. The signing would help the Patriots stick with their preferred option of the multiple tight end offense.

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