OK, here's my creative thinking for the day. Problem : - Branch thinks he's worth more than Belichick thinks he's worth. - Belichick wouldn't pay him top dollar anyway based on his position. Additional Facts : - Branch would play this year if the Patriots promised not to Franchise him. - Patriots can't promise not to Franchise as they'd lose any trade value under the Franchise tag, My Solution : Agree with Branch/agent to a reasonable trade value for Branch under the Franchise tag. Say a #2, whatever they agree on, but I'll use that. Agree, in writing if necessary, with Branch that he'll play this season but instead of promising not to Franchise him, promise that if he can find a team willing to trade the #2 that was agreed on in addition to giving him the contract he wants, we guarantee we'll make the trade. Although they'd have to be slightly careful about the wording of things due to the intent of Franchising not supposed to be for trade purposes, this would work for both sides. The Patriots would get the player for this season and get the agreed to trade value. Branch would get his chance to negotiate his own long term deal and not be "stuck" with the meager $8M or so for one year that the Franchise Tag for a WR would give him.