Thought I'd stir up the waters a little. I'm pretty certain everyone is happy with the compensation the Pats received for Branch...a 1st rounder next year that will quite likely be in the early 20's. Two first rounders will certainly help lay the foundation for the FUTURE of this team. The problem lies in the fact that the organization has been unable to replace his talent with equal production this year and I would argue that Branch's absence has allowed opposing D's to free up assets to attack the line of scrimmage. What if BB/Pioli had maintained their hard line stance. Branch would likely have sat out the first half of the season and returned for the stretch run...NOW. Certainly the Pats could use this guy about now. My whole problem with the preseason Branch situation was that the Pats had no plan B. Givens was long gone before the draft so Caldwell gets brought in. Chad Jackson gets drafted early and maybe BB felt that they incorporate him into the scheme as quickly as Branch adapted to it. (I do believe this was BB's train of thought). Group Branch, Jackson, Caldwell, and Troy Brown together and you have to think BB was very satisfied with this group. BUT, can you really count on a guy who is fighting you about his contract. And can you count on a rookie who damages his hamstring in minicamp and can't get on the practice field during preseason. The signs were flashing very early that these 2 WRs had issues that could have longer term repercussions. Who knows what kind of trades were available during preseason that involved talented WRs instead of the castoff collection that the Pats opted for. But in my eyes, plan B has been a failure. When your WRs don't receive proper respect from the opposition, especially in the 2WR, 2 TE set...other teams are going to flood the center of the field which allows Ds to attack in multiple ways. The Pats scheme needs talent on the edges. So, would the aggravation of keeping Branch on the roster been worth it right now. Ten weeks of major distractions with the hope that Branch honors his finals weeks before hitting free agency. Branch would have had to report eventually to get his FA eligibility.