Branch was among the early names cut Friday. (FILE:USPresswire)

Wide receiver Deion Branch’s release caught the attention of most Patriots fans by surprise on Friday, but obviously there are other factors the team must be considering by letting him go.

Branch clearly outplayed Donte Stallworth during the preseason and Jabar Gaffney’s recent release seemed to signal that the veteran would get one more season in New England.  Instead they’ve elected to release him, but while I thought initially it could be a temporary move to allow them to retain an additional player on the roster until the dust settles and they get a final feel personnel-wise of who they are really do need to keep, I’m having doubts after Branch issued a “farewell” tweet to Patriots fans a little earlier . That now has me wondering if they’ve simply decided to move in another direction.

It may be a situation where they’re electing to develop younger players at his spot and would rather devote those snaps to helping them gain experience, but that’s just a theory and it will be tough to get a true feel for who that may be until the day finally comes to an end and we see who is left standing.

It’s clear that it this point in his career with his relationship with Tom Brady and his knowledge of the system Branch’s best fit is in New England, so it would make sense to not count him out completely.  But for now it sounds like his second tour in Foxboro could be over, although injuries happen during the season and they may still potentially need him down the road, so it’s tough to “never say never”.

Branch finished the preseason with 4 receptions on 5 targets for 64 yards (16.0 avg).