Some quick background on the Branch situation. Apparently, the Patriots have been interested in getting Branch back for some time … back to the Ruskell era. The guy was very productive in big games for them (21 catches for 276 yards in two Super Bowls). Tom Brady apparently loves him.
If the Pats got only a third-round pick from Minnesota for Randy Moss, it’s doubtful they’re going to be willing to give up anything but a lower pick for Branch, unless some other factors/players enter into the equation. No question, the Seahawks could stand to recoup some draft picks they’ve already shipped out. This team is rebuilding. And the Patriots have a ton of draft picks in hand and available.
Does landing Marshawn Lynch make Branch more or less a factor? Maybe a renewed focus on the rushing attack means fewer passes to go around. We might view Branch as redundant once they got Brandon Stokley, but an improved running game could open things up for more of the kinds of routes Branch and Stokley run. And Pete Carroll went out of his way recently to project Branch into a role as a slot receiver on the side opposite Stokley. Of course, that is the same coach who said Julius Jones was going to be back in running back rotation the day before he was released.
I think the staff and front office genuinely appreciates Branch. I think they see value in him. But they have made it very clear they will listen to anybody on any topic. I think that having Lynch on-board now solidified their belief that they can be in contention in the power-vacuum that is the NFC West. And they will need to be convinced before they surrender anybody they think can help them win games now.