Monday, September 11, 2006

Branch to Seattle

The ongoing saga of Deion Branch and the Patriots has reached endgame, as the Pats have traded the disgruntled MVP of Super Bowl XXXIX to Seattlefor a first round draft pick in 2007. This seems about right. The Patriots were not going to give Branch away for a second round pick, and they were not about to pay him the money he was asking. In recent weeks the acrimony became irreconcilable. Branch filed a grievance, and though I doubt that Branch would have won, it is better that the arbitration never reached its conclusion. Meanwhile Seattle's putrid offensive showing yesterday surely tipped them over the edge to commit the first rounder (but not the additional midrounder the Pats had coveted). None of this solves the Patriots' wide receiver riddle for this year, however, unless rookie second-round pick Chad Jackson is reday to contribute right away once his balky hamstring heals. Relying on a rookie receiver is always tough (ask Detroit) but better that the Pats cut their losses. In an ideal (read: non salary cap) world Branch probably deserved more money than the Patriots offered, but the Patriots could not afford more money than they offered him. The Patriots way is to stick within a financial framework and maximize player development within that framework. They play the NFL's equivalent of Moneyball in an era in which salary cap realities reward such an approach. They will win without Deion Branch just as they won without Lawyer Malloy. Unfortunately, the NFL does not have much room for sentimentalism.

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