By: Ian Logue
The Patriots were in need of a veteran presence now that Randy Moss is in Minnesota, and it looks like they may have brought in someone who should be able to fit in pretty quick here in New England.
According to Adam Schefter of ESPN, New England finally pulled the trigger Monday night to bring back former Patriot Deion Branch, sending a 4th round pick to the Seahawks in order to bring him back to Foxboro.
The move is an interesting one to say the least, but it makes plenty of sense when you take a closer look at it.
He’s obviously got quite a history here. He was drafted by the Patriots in the second round in 2002 and was an intricate part of the team’s back-to-back Super Bowl seasons in 2003 and 2004, winning SuperBowl MVP honors during the Patriots third championship. He was traded to Seattle in 2006 following a contract dispute, but never really seemed to fit in and struggled to win over fans after battling some injuries.
The expectations for former SuperBowl XXXIX MVP receiver Deion Branch should be a little different this time around. (PHOTO:Icon/SMI)
Now that he’s back, things will likely be different for him this time around. The expectations should be a bit lower since in this offense he no longer needs to be “the guy.” He just needs to be “a guy” who can fill a role, because at this point the primary need for New England is experience and depth, and Branch gives them that.
He should be someone who can quickly pick up the terminology, along with being able to be moved around on the field and play different positions. Whether he’s split out wide or in the slot, he’ll likely be a guy who will do what he’s told and hopefully provide Bill O’Brien with plenty of versatility as they modify their offensive scheme for the rest of the season.
Branch should also be someone who will be in the place that Brady expects him to be, and won’t have any issues with “timing” or “chemistry”. After all, we’ve already had different veterans come and go in this system. We’ve seen guys who weren’t where they were supposed to be, and others who Brady just lost confidence in because they didn’t run their routes the way he expected them to. However, some may remember the feature on 60-Minutes with Branch and Brady where Branch even admitted that all he needed to do was “to get a look” from Brady to know what type of route he needed to run. That’s an intangible that you generally can’t get in a midseason trade, and likely will come back fairly quick once the two take the field and start working together again.
There are also some other things Branch brings which you can’t put a value on. First off, he already understands what Brady expects of him as a player and a teammate. They’ve obviously had plenty of success on the field, so there’s already plenty of mutual respect between them. He should also have plenty of confidence in the coaching staff since he’s already played under Belichick and won two titles here. There shouldn’t be any issues with questioning the playcalling or doubting what they’re trying to do on the field. From what we’ve seen the two still have a good relationship, and one would have to believe Belichick has already explained to Branch exactly what the expectations are for his role on this football team.
While the move isn’t as big of a splash to fans as getting a guy like Vincent Jackson would’ve been, it’s one that fits perfectly with what their plan for the rest of the season appears to be. What Branch has lost in quickness, he’ll likely make up for in just being a smart veteran who can find some space and execute.
The addition of Branch adds some experience to a receiving group that has just one other NFL veteran in Wes Welker, with the the rest of the group being much younger as Brandon Tate, Julian Edelman, Taylor Price and Matthew Slater round out the rest of the depth chart.
Branch is reportedly expected to be on the active roster this Sunday against the Ravens.
UPDATE: Christopher Price of WEEI.com found the video segment from 60-minutes that I was trying to find earlier regarding the amazing communication between Branch and Brady which I mentioned earlier in this entry. Be sure and check it out.