Deion Branch could be back on the field at Gillette Stadium on Saturday night, but it’d be on the opposing sideline.
The Indianapolis Colts signed Branch on Monday, the team announced, just days before traveling to New England for their divisional round matchup against the Patriots. Branch worked out for the Colts in December but was not offered a contract at the time.
Branch, 34, spent seven seasons with the Patriots, but he hadn’t played this season. His experience with Tom Brady and Bill Belichick should help the Colts better prepare for a Patriots offense that put 59 points on them last season.
Branch was a second-round draft pick of the Patriots in 2002, then spent four seasons with the team. He won two Super Bowls with the Patriots, earning Super Bowl XXXIX MVP honors with a record-tying 11 grabs in a 24-21 win over the Philadelphia Eagles.
Branch sought a big-money contract extension from the Patriots after posting the best season of his career in 2005 (78 catches, 998 yards and five touchdowns) but was traded to the Seattle Seahawks at the start of the 2006 season for a first-round pick. He spent four-plus seasons with the Seahawks before being traded back to the Patriots in 2010.
Branch caught 115 passes for 1,553 yards and 10 touchdowns in 36 games during his second stint in New England. He has 518 catches for 6,644 yards and 39 touchdowns in his 11 NFL seasons.