Deion Branch Still A Patriot, For Now

More news on the Deion Branch situation. The 4:00 pm trade deadline came and went, but not without a bit of drama of its own. The New England Patriots felt compelled to relase a statement prior to the head coach's conference call, then refused to answer questions about the situation or the statement. PI provides an update on things in Foxboro.

WR Deion Branch's 4:00 PM deadline to find an acceptable trade offer expired today and the former Super Bowl MVP remains a Patriot. Branch sought to prompt the team to renegotiate his contract to a better deal by staying away from the facilities during a lengthy holdout which began during the team's mandatory minicamps. When negotiations stalled over disagreements on compensation, the team gave permission for the Louisville product to seek a trade.

Two teams (Seahawks and Jets) emerged in trade discussions with the New York Jets showing the most interest. New York reportedly offered Branch a six-year $36 million deal, but was not willing to part with a draft pick compensation requested by the Patriots. The Seahawks also reportedly made an offer to Branch, but were unable to reach agreement with the Patriots.

Tom Curran of NBCSports.com reported that Branch's agent, Jason Chayut, filed a grievance with the NFLPA to protest the Patriots' decision not to trade Branch to the Jets.

The basis of the grievance is that Chayut claims there was a verbal agreement that the Patriots would honor a trade if there were a "fair and reasonable" offer made.

Chayut deemed the Jets deal reasonable, but the compensation of at least a first-round pick was not met according to a league source.

The Patriots have since released a statement clarifying the team's position on Branch.

"No trade has been consummated. Deion Branch remains under contract to the New England Patriots."

In a conference call with the New England media this afternoon, Patriots coach Bill Belichick refused to comment on Branch's status or the grievance, referring to the team-issued statement. "Really, I don't have anything else to say about it," Belichick said."I'll let that statement speak for itself."

When pressed for the possibility of Branch still being traded even after the deadline, Belichick again referred to the statement and declined to get into any details on the matter. "I don't have anything else to add," he said.

Without Branch in the lineup the Patriots have used Troy Brown, newcomer Reche Caldwell, second-year practice squad wonder Bam Childress and a combination of tight ends and backs. FB/TE prospect Garrett Mills was split as a receiver against the Giants in last night's game in New York, an indication the team may take an unorthodox approach to solving the lack of depth in the receiving corps caused by Branch's absence and Chad Jackson's ongoing injury problem.

Branch continued his holdout on Friday, and is subject to fines upwards of $14,000 per day should the team choose to enforce them. Branch is scheduled to earn a little over $1 million in base salary in 2006.

New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick, right, and Super Bowl Most Valuable Player Deion Branch share a laugh as they appear on the "Tonight Show" with host Jay Leno during taping at NBC studios in Burbank, Calif., Wednesday, Feb. 9, 2005. (AP Photo/Reed Saxon)

A lighter moment between Belichick and Branch

 


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