Could Patriots Work Out a Trade for Deion Branch?


Could Patriots Work Out a Trade for Deion Branch? The NFL's trading deadline typically comes and goes without any sort of excitement. Rarely do any moves — major or otherwise — make any headlines.

But could the Patriots add a little life to this year's deadline by bringing back an old friend to Foxborough?

With Joey Galloway inactive for consecutive weeks and Sam Aiken not playing at a high level, wouldn't acquiring Deion Branch seem like the perfect move for the Patriots?

Branch, in three years with the Seahawks, has not come close to matching his production from his days playing with Tom Brady, so it's easy to forget just how good he was with New England from 2002 to 2005. Branch was Brady's leading receiver in 2003 and 2005, taking home Super Bowl MVP honors the year in between. His quick feet and unmatched field vision made him a dangerous weapon — something the Patriots have shown they need.

Essentially, Branch was Wes Welker before Wes Welker was Wes Welker. His numbers increased every season (with the exception of an injury-hampered 2004 season, when he still posted stellar numbers in just nine games) until 2005, when he averaged nearly five catches and 62 receiving yards per game. His postseason performance that year was overshadowed by a shocking loss to Denver, when Branch caught eight passes for 153 yards. He had two catches for 31 yards in the drive that would have given the Patriots the lead before Brady's interception in the end zone to Champ Bailey.

After three seasons in Seattle in which his quarterback has struggled to avoid injuries, a return to Foxborough — and a shot at another Super Bowl — could be just what Branch needs to reignite his career.

Guest hosting on WEEI's Dale & Holley Show on Friday, ESPNBoston's Mike Reiss raised the point, saying Branch would help solve the Patriots' issues at the No. 3 receiver.

"He knows the system," Reiss said of Branch. "If you're going to bring someone in, in the middle of the season, you'll need him to be familiar with the system."

Reiss said one potential hangup to the deal could be Seattle's unwillingness to "acknowledge a mistake." That mistake was paying a first-round pick for Branch, a pick that turned into safety Brandon Meriweather at No. 24 in 2007.

The cost for the Patriots to reacquire Branch probably would be much less — something more along the lines of a fourth- or fifth-round pick in exchange for picking up Branch's salary, which is around $5 million.

The Seahawks may be willing to sever ties with the 30-year-old, as his name was thrown around toward the end of training camp as a possibility to be cut. Since then, he's been a marginal part of Seattle's offense, being active for just three games and sitting fourth on the team in receptions (10) and fourth in receiving yards (85). He's yet to find the end zone for the team that acquired T.J. Housmandzadeh in the offseason.

There's good reason to believe that would change if he were to once again don the Patriots' jersey. The idea of Branch and Welker lining up with Randy Moss and a suddenly dangerous Ben Watson, with skilled pass catchers Kevin Faulk and Laurence Maroney coming out of the backfield seems almost unfair. The addition of Branch could be just what this offense needs to get back on track.

But for now, getting Branch is nothing more than a dream. Bill Belichick and the Patriots have until Tuesday to make it a reality.

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