In Mike Reiss' article, there were opinions that Branch did not have much of a case. But there was also one paragraph that should not be taken lightly: http://www.boston.com/sports/football/patriots/articles/2006/09/04/experts_dont_back_branch/ I made a comment pertaining to this also in a previous post: With regard to this selection of arbitrators, Gene Upshaw has not been bashful about blackballing an arbitrator from ever hearing another NFL/NFLPA case when he is unhappy (p**sed) at the decision: http://proxy.espn.go.com/nfl/columns/story?columnist=mortensen_chris&id=2235051 "'One thing I can control is that he will no longer be an arbitrator in any more of our cases," Upshaw said, shortly after Bloch upheld the Philadelphia Eagles' suspension of the veteran wide receiver and the the team's stance that Owens will be deactivated for the final five games of the 2005 season.' Under the (collective bargaining agreement), either side has a right between Dec. 1 and Dec. 10 to dismiss an arbitrator, and we are going to dismiss this one. " I finally tracked down the information that I remembered seeing which names the possible arbitrators and master: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/09/01/AR2006090101705_pf.html So if we are curious as to how the possible arbitrators, John Feerick or Shyam Das, might rule, it is interesting to look at past issues that they have been involved in. Shyam Das was arbitrator in the McCardell holdout with Tampa Bay. http://www.buccaneers.com/news/newsdetail.aspx?newsid=4747 In this case, he basically ruled completely in Tampa Bay's favor. He ruled that McCardell had to repay $1.5M of signing and roster bonuses after McCardell had held out until he was finally traded in October. (in Branch's case there is a consideration that he has not yet been traded and that the Patriots may not want to trade him unless they get a substantial offer; and there is the reputed verbal 'agreement' which might be be something that is different) Das was also arbitrator in baseball's Rocker and Kenny Rogers cases. In both cases he upheld penalties but reduced them considerably. John Feerick (Dean of Fordham University Law School) was the arbitrator in the NBA Latrell Sprewell case. He reduced Sprewell's penalties by 17.3M to 6.4M and reduced his suspension to 68 games - still substantial penalties. He was the arbitrator in the NBA issue of whether the players could demand to paid even though they were locked out. He ruled that the NBA clubs did not have to pay the players. More to the point of the NFL, Feerick was the arbitrator in the McNair case. http://www.tennessean.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20060603/SPORTS01/606030362/1027 Feerick ruled that the Titans could not refuse to allow McNair to work out in their training facility. However, "Feerick rejected requests from McNair to be released from his contract and compensated for missed workouts." And: "The ruling also appears to leave the Titans with the option of not giving McNair any work at their six organized team activity practices that start on June 13 or using him in training camp or the preseason if he's still with the team under his current contract. 'The request that (I) grant relief as well with respect to the mini-camp and pre season participation is denied since that issue is not presented in this grievance,' Feerick wrote." While it appears that both Feerick and Das have had cases where they upheld team rights, there are still elements in these cases where trades were actually worked out. So we are still left to wonder whether the Branch case will be strictly the issue of upholding the contract under the CBA or whether either arbitrator might issue some requirements with respect to pursuing a trade. So long as the Patriots were legally careful enough in how they allowed Chayut to seek a POSSIBLE trade subject strictly to their unilateral decision choice, I would hope that the arbitrator would rule that Branch has no rights to require a trade. Otherwise, it still seems to me that this would introduce really chaotic possibilities with regard to the stability of contracts through their complete term. But in the end, you just never know how an arbitrator may rule.