The Patriots acquired Super Bowl XXXIX MVP Deion Branch from the Seahawks on Monday night, around the exact time Moss was making his debut for the Vikings. The Pats reportedly sent a fourth-round pick to Seattle for Branch, who played in New England from 2002-05.
Branch caught 213 passes for 2,744 yards and 14 touchdowns in four seasons with the Patriots, but his numbers dropped off in Seattle. Yet, the 31-year-old is a versatile receiver who was always lauded for doing the right thing, running good routes and, most importantly, staying in harmony with quarterback Tom Brady.
Most notably, Branch showed up when it counted. He caught 21 passes for 276 yards and one touchdown in two Super Bowl victories. By comparison, Moss had 12 receptions for 142 yards and one touchdown in five total playoff games with New England.
Branch will also add some veteran presence to a young receiving corps that was stripped of its most dynamic playmaker after last week's surprising trade. If he is able to pick up where he left off with Brady, Branch will be able to play off coverages that will start to target Wes Welker, and together, Branch and Welker should be able to outthink defenses with Brady.
Without Moss, there would have been more pressure placed upon young wide receivers Brandon Tate, Julian Edelman and Taylor Price, and tight ends Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski. Branch, though, should help alleviate those tighter collars.
Already this season, the Patriots were shifting toward the throwback version of their offense. Now with Branch back in the mix, that notion has come true to life.