Pats trade for Seahawks' Deion Branch
Branch, the former Super Bowl MVP wide receiver with the Patriots, was traded Monday night from the Seattle Seahawks to New England. The Seahawks confirmed the trade late Monday night and the Patriots acknowledged it Tuesday after Branch passed a physical.
Branch, who is practiced with the Patriots on Tuesday, will wear No. 84.
ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter first reported the deal.
Seattle said it will get a fourth-round pick in exchange for Branch getting a reunion with the team that drafted him in 2002.
"[He's] excited as can be," Branch's agent, Jason Chayut said Monday night.
Brady said Tuesday morning that while he was glad to see Branch return to the Patriots, he did not lobby management to bring back his former favorite target.
"I think between teammates you obviously, if you hear something maybe you'll say something," Brady said during his weekly interview on Boston sports radio station WEEI. "But at the same time, I never had a conversation with coach [Bill] Belichick about it. I think he is the kind of player that you want, that you're looking for. He's very much the same type of player that you've seen here over the years. The [Tedy] Bruschis, the [Mike] Vrabels the [Willie] McGinests, the Ty Laws, those character guys that a guy like Deion is. Whenever those guys become available I'm sure that's the kind of player coach Belichick jumps at."
The trade ended a day of speculation after Branch was absent from Seahawks practice.
Seattle coach Pete Carroll was nearly silent on Branch's status, other than saying he gave Branch an excused "personal day" on Monday as the Seahawks returned from their bye.
Carroll added he expected Branch to be with the team at its next practice on Wednesday.
"At this point I do, yes," Carroll said of Branch being around later in the week.
Obviously, that was not the case. Reports first surfaced last week of talks between the Seahawks and Patriots following the trade of Randy Moss from New England to Minnesota.
The normally talkative Carroll said just 28 words in response to any questions about Branch.
Branch is signed through next season and is scheduled to make $5.45 million in base salary this year and $5.95 million in 2011.
Branch should contribute immediately to the Patriots because of his knowledge of the team's complex offensive system. His arrival also comes at a time when the team is altering its offensive attack following the Moss trade, adopting an approach that could more resemble the short to intermediate-type attack that the Patriots utilized when Branch played for the team from 2002-2005.
Nevertheless, Brady said Tuesday morning he expects there to be a learning curve for Branch when he returns.
"I'm not sure how much Deion has retained over the years," Brady said. "Deion is a very smart player. He's going to have his work cut out for him. There's a lot to catch up on. I wouldn't say things are exactly the way they were when he left. We've evolved quite a bit from that offense that we were running. Some of the things I'm sure are very familiar to him, but some of the things are very different as well. I'm sure there will be a pretty steep learning curve for him. Hopefully he gets up to speed as quickly as possible because we'll need him this week."
Before coming to Seattle, Branch was a rising star with the Patriots. He caught a career-best 78 passes for nearly 1,000 yards and five touchdowns in 2005 and that followed up his Super Bowl MVP performance a year earlier. Branch had 11 catches for 133 yards in the Super Bowl against Philadelphia.
He also totaled a game-high 10 receptions for 143 yards and a touchdown in the Patriots' 32-29 victory over the Panthers in Super Bowl XXXVIII, had a team-high 116 receiving yards in the 2004 AFC Championship Game against Pittsburgh, and set a Patriots playoff record with 153 receiving yards at Denver (Jan. 14, 2006).
Branch arrived in Seattle in 2006, acquired from the Patriots for a first-round draft pick, but that first season in Seattle was the only time Branch was able to stay healthy. His career in Seattle was mostly defined by injuries, missing parts of the previous three seasons with some sort of ailment.
Most of Branch's ailments revolved around his left knee he first injured in a snowy playoff game against Green Bay in January 2008. He also missed time with hamstring and foot injuries.
So far this season, Branch has remained healthy. He's caught 13 passes for 112 yards and a touchdown, but had just one catch in Seattle's 20-3 loss to St. Louis.
His future with Seattle was brought into question when the Seahawks signed Brandon Stokley. Just a few days after being signed, Stokley led the team in catches and targets in their 20-3 loss.
Branch was in Louisville, Ky., over the weekend where his number was honored at the University of Louisville. He told the Louisville Courier-Journal he was trying not to focus on the rumors.
"I'm going to leave that to the people that handle that," Branch told the paper. "Right now I'm still a Seattle Seahawk, and whatever happens, happens."
Information from ESPNBoston.com's Mike Reiss and The Associated Press contributed to this story.