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New England should have kept Branch - ESPN.com


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New England should have kept Branch

By Jeffri Chadiha

ESPN.com

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There are suddenly so many questions about the New England Patriots' offense that it's hard to keep track of them all. Some people wonder whether the addition of Randy Moss will curse the Pats or create enough big plays to help them win another Super Bowl. Others ponder how all these new receivers -- including offseason acquisitions Donte' Stallworth, Wes Welker and Kelley Washington -- will make life easier for quarterback Tom Brady. They even wonder why a team that has traditionally been fiscally conservative in the free-agent market is now throwing money around as if Paris Hilton were managing the books.

But with all those questions, there's one that still makes more sense than any other: Why didn't the Patriots just pay former wide receiver Deion Branch in the first place? It would've saved them a lot more cash this offseason. It would've given them a better chance at beating Indianapolis in last season's AFC Championship Game. It also would have appeased Brady, who is extremely tight with Branch, along with a locker room full of teammates who had appreciated what that diminutive receiver had done to help New England win two Super Bowls during his tenure.

Instead, we now see the Patriots scrambling to fill a cavernous void with moves that still have the potential to harm them in the long run. By adding Moss to the roster in a draft-day trade with Oakland, New England essentially acknowledged that it would make a Faustian pact to improve its mediocre receiving corps. In doing so, the Patriots basically have admitted that the one constant in all their Super Bowl runs -- that unfailing team chemistry -- isn't as vital now as having a big name with a bad reputation running routes in their system. The prediction here is that it takes Moss less than eight games to rile Brady, head coach Bill Belichick and just about any Patriots loyalist who blindly has bought into this gamble.

The irony here isn't just that keeping Branch would have emboldened that chemistry or given the Patriots a receiver who has produced more receptions and yards than Moss has generated over the past two seasons. It's that when you combine New England's decision to trade him to Seattle with the team's current offseason spending spree, you can imagine New England eventually suffering through the kind of disharmony that eventually undermines a team's goals.

You can't tell me that the younger Patriots players aren't wondering how they'll be treated once they reach a point when they can demand more money. Tennessee wide receiver David Givens, whom New England didn't re-sign after the 2005 season, supported that point last season, when he admitted that he heard a lot of grumbling among the Patriots after the Branch trade went down and New England's offense stumbled at the start of last year.

In fact, I can promise you that cornerback Asante Samuel was one such player who paid attention to how Branch's contract was handled. He is currently saddled with the franchise tag and has no chance to pursue the big money that other teams are throwing at veteran cornerbacks. He probably would have been happy if the Patriots had made a serious attempt to sign him to a long-term deal before last season ended, but he also knew how the team did business. He realized that New England can take care of certain players whenever it likes -- especially when it involves dealing with cornerstones such as Brady or Pro Bowl defensive tackle Richard Seymour. But the team also can be downright cold-blooded when it comes to handling other young talents.

I really wouldn't have a problem with this if we were talking about another NFL team. But the Patriots have ridden that team-first company line for so long that it's impossible to not criticize them for how they've handled their business over the last nine months. And please don't talk to me about how the Patriots have been able to continue winning despite losing key veterans over the years. I know their accomplishments, and I applaud them for their ability to thrive despite the departures of stars such as Lawyer Milloy, Ty Law, Willie McGinest and Adam Vinatieri. However, my point here is that there's an undeniable value in taking care of your own talent.

It's one thing to lose an aging veteran edging toward the point in his career when the money he'll make won't equate to on-field performance. It's another thing altogether when a team has a young talent like Branch, a player who had been drafted and cultivated by that team, and then decides he isn't worth the money he was seeking. In fairness, I'm willing to say the Patriots have found so much success plugging other players into depleted positions that they underestimated Branch's potential value. But they now must realize that their mishandling of that situation only creates more questions about what they'll do in the future.

To be blunt, you don't generate the kind of loyalty the Patriots have thrived on over the past six years with that approach. Players aren't stupid. They know it's easy for a franchise to invest in a Brady or Seymour, but they also accept that only a handful of younger players will fall into that no-brainer category. And if those young players begin to sense that a team won't reward them for a job well done, there's a good chance that unhappiness can create the kind of fissures within a team's confidence that even the best of franchises can't overcome.

So I guess we'll see how all these offseason moves play out for New England over the next year or so. We'll find out if Moss can be productive in a better environment and if those other receivers, including 2006 second-round pick Chad Jackson, can become reliable targets for Brady. But I'll still be watching and wondering why the Patriots didn't make things easier on themselves last fall. Because even now, it's still blatantly clear that the best receiver for their offense, for a number of reasons, is now catching passes in Seattle.

Jeffri Chadiha is a senior writer for ESPN.com.

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I refuse to waste my time reading that article. Did this genius explain why it makes sense to pay a top 10-15 WR top 5 money? And I'm sure he also had a perfect explanation why getting a 1st. round pick for that top 10-15 WR then picking up one of the most prolific WRs in the NFL for a mere 4th. round pick wasn't an improvement.

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I refuse to waste my time reading that article. Did this genius explain why it makes sense to pay a top 10-15 WR top 5 money? And I'm sure he also had a perfect explanation why getting a 1st. round pick for that top 10-15 WR then picking up one of the most prolific WRs in the NFL for a mere 4th. round pick wasn't an improvement.

If the Pats kept Branch... you might be bragging about your 4th title right now...

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If the Pats kept Branch... you might be bragging about your 4th title right now...

Might. What we do know is the Seahawks gave up a 1st. and a top 5 contract for Branch and the Patriots gave up a 4th. and $3 million for a better WR.

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Might. What we do know is the Seahawks gave up a 1st. and a top 5 contract for Branch and the Patriots gave up a 4th. and $3 million for a better WR.

And blew a **** at a title by having no WR's... who knows what will happen in 07' the Pats should have been in win now mode last season... they weren't and they blew it.

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Branch did not exactly light it up in Seattle. Sorry guys, but the patsies came away a winner this off-season. Fortunately for the Jets, the games are not played during this time. This is all speculation, of course, as Moss's production has yet to be monitored, but you can bet your a$$ he will be covered like stink on sh!t by the media this fall. Branch got his money based on one game, basically. The patsies gained a first rounder in return for his departure, which was a great deal considering Branch refused to play. The gave up the 10th pick in the fourth round of the draft in return for one of the most dynamic weapons (potentially) to ever play the game of football. I struggle to find the pats wrong turn here.

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And blew a **** at a title by having no WR's... who knows what will happen in 07' the Pats should have been in win now mode last season... they weren't and they blew it.

And you know what would have happened in 06'? Did one of your model rockets take you back in time so you could see what happens if the Patriots had kept Branch? If the Patriots would have signed Branch to the kind of money he got it would have set up a precedent that would have completely ruined this team. We would have had Ty Warren demanding Jason Taylor money next.

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And you know what would have happened in 06'? Did one of your model rockets take you back in time so you could see what happens if the Patriots had kept Branch? If the Patriots would have signed Branch to the kind of money he got it would have set up a precedent that would have completely ruined this team. We would have had Ty Warren demanding Jason Taylor money next.

Ty Warren deserves Jason Taylor money; I'm just sayin'...

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BS moss is better than no one until he proves it.

Would you do me a favor? Go ahead and tell me how many 1000 yd. seasons Branch has compared to Moss. Then go ahead and tell me who each WRs' QBs have been.

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Would you do me a favor and explain why moss was traded for a fourth rounder and Branch was traded for a first?

Because Seattle is run by a village of idiots and Oakland had no choice but to get rid of Moss at all costs.

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Would you do me a favor? Go ahead and tell me how many 1000 yd. seasons Branch has compared to Moss. Then go ahead and tell me who each WRs' QBs have been.

do me a favor and tell me why the worst team in the league with a new qb traded him for a 4th rounder? Why he has sucked for 3-4 years? Why he is old? why he was available for so cheap? Why are you being such a homer about this? I'm not saying anything about the branch deal but the moss deal isn't as good as you're making it out to be because moss is an old selfish prick.

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do me a favor and tell me why the worst team in the league with a new qb traded him for a 4th rounder? Why he has sucked for 3-4 years? Why he is old? why he was available for so cheap? Why are you being such a homer about this? I'm not saying anything about the branch deal but the moss deal isn't as good as you're making it out to be because moss is an old selfish prick.

Because they didn't have the cap room to keep him and sign the #1 pick? He hasn't sucked the past 3-4 years. Unless of course you call sucking outproducing Branch. The Raiders traded him because they had to. He refused to play 100% for a crap organization. All Moss has to do is come in and gain 800 rec. yds. and this whole Branch/Moss deal is a slam dunk in the Patriots favor. I'm liking the Patriots chances on that deal.

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Because they didn't have the cap room to keep him and sign the #1 pick? He hasn't sucked the past 3-4 years. Unless of course you call sucking outproducing Branch. The Raiders traded him because they had to. He refused to play 100% for a crap organization. All Moss has to do is come in and gain 800 rec. yds. and this whole Branch/Moss deal is a slam dunk in the Patriots favor. I'm liking the Patriots chances on that deal.

Youre absolutely right, why should an athlete that is paid millions of dollars give 100% effort on the field? I hope the jets acquire many such players, only good things would come from that.

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Youre absolutely right, why should an athlete that is paid millions of dollars give 100% effort on the field? I hope the jets acquire many such players, only good things would come from that.

Well if the team was worth a $hit it would definately be worth it. :box:

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a point alk refuses to acknowledge.

Based on what your personal observation through a TV?

When Branch grows about 7 inches and drops about a half second off his 40, maybe you will finally understand the low risk/high reward concept.

If Randy plays to his talent level, Moss will far exceed anything Deoin has done. If not, he is cut and for the price of a 4th rounder.

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Based on what your personal observation through a TV?

When Branch grows about 7 inches and drops about a half second off his 40, maybe you will finally understand the low risk/high reward concept.

If Randy plays to his talent level, Moss will far exceed anything Deoin has done. If not, he is cut and for the price of a 4th rounder.

I didn't say anything about branch, I said moss is washed up.

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I didn't say anything about branch, I said moss is washed up.

Based on what? A disinterested year on the league's worst first team?

As the old saying goes, "You can not teach speed or height."

He is still tall and judging on the reports he ran a 4.29 40 last month for Bill, his speed is still there.

If what he said to the press, which every player with his checkered of a past would say, is true. He will easily surpass his Deoin like numbers of last year. If he plays to his talent watch out, the Patriots are going to be hard to defend.

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I didn't say anything about branch, I said moss is washed up.

And what would lead you believe this? Other than the fact that he's a Patriot now and you're in denial. He just turned 30, he still has a good 3-4 years left in him. It just amazes me how everyone overlooks the fact that he has been working with qbs that couldn't start for any of the other 31 NFL teams. Coincidentally enough, those were his worst three seasons. I'm not saying Moss is going to set the world on fire but I will go on record as saying that he will be a model citizen in New England and be well worth that 4th. round draft pick.

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I'm not saying Moss is going to set the world on fire but I will go on record as saying that he will be a model citizen in New England and be well worth that 4th. round draft pick.

How about you bet your posting privaleges for a month?

The stigma of Moss is that he was an amazing talent. His rookie year he scored 17 TD's, and over 1,300 yds recieving. Since then he has achieved less than 1,200 yds only three times in his nine-year career ( '04, his last year in MIN with 767 yards; '05 in Oak with 1,005 yards; and '06, his last year in Oak with 553 yards)

But the fact is he has been the undisputed #1 WR on every team he's ever played for. Now he's decided upon a team-first environment where the offense is centered on ball distribution; and you think he's going to excell. The last 1/3 of his career he has been on the decline, including spouts with Coach Shell, and hissy fits...

But now, because HIS AGENT reported that he's running a 4.29, he's an incredible athlete once again. (???)

Here's the deal. Moss has the unfounded, unheralded ability to be the only WR in the league that could either be this year's SB-MVP, or never make it out of training camp.

Sure he's gifted; a tall, jumpy reciever who once made acrobatic catches like the highlight reel was made just for him. (His nickname, "Super freak").

But when you can defy the laws of gravity the way he does (when he's happy), other rules stop applying to you. That's been his problem since grade school; the "super-freak" has issues with authority and with things he cannot control.

Without a vet like Chris Carter, holding his hand, Moss is unlikely to change his ways...Especially when he's moving out of a state that has a 2:00 am-last call into one known for its breweries.

So when you say "model citizen", pardon me for scoffing? The day I see Randy Moss in a United Way commercial is the day I choke on my own vomit.

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I refuse to waste my time reading that article. Did this genius explain why it makes sense to pay a top 10-15 WR top 5 money? And I'm sure he also had a perfect explanation why getting a 1st. round pick for that top 10-15 WR then picking up one of the most prolific WRs in the NFL for a mere 4th. round pick wasn't an improvement.

You're worse than us when it comes to the blind homerism.

Good to know now.:P

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Based on what your personal observation through a TV?

When Branch grows about 7 inches and drops about a half second off his 40, maybe you will finally understand the low risk/high reward concept.

If Randy plays to his talent level, Moss will far exceed anything Deoin has done. If not, he is cut and for the price of a 4th rounder.

103 N.Y. Jets Brad Smith WR Missouri

107 Arizona Gabe Watson NT Michigan

117 N.Y. Jets Leon Washington RB Florida State

118 New England Stephen Gostkowski K Memphis

I think I would rather have these guys in their early 320's than a washed up Moss...

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103 N.Y. Jets Brad Smith WR Missouri

107 Arizona Gabe Watson NT Michigan

117 N.Y. Jets Leon Washington RB Florida State

118 New England Stephen Gostkowski K Memphis

I think I would rather have these guys in their early 320's than a washed up Moss...

And I think you must smoke some of the best weed known to man. Brad Smith? :rl:

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