Branch Moves On

Former Patriots' wide receiver Deion Branch moved on to new surroundings this week trying to put any bitterness arising from his contract holdout behind him. New England shipped Branch to the Seattle Seahawks for a first-round draft pick in 2007 because they could not come to terms with their top receiver over a new deal. To his credit, Branch was kind to the Patriots on the way out.

Wide receiver Deion Branch struck a diplomatic tone during his introductory press conference Tuesday. It's clear he wants to fit into the Seattle locker room and gain the kind of respect he enjoyed in the New England.

"I'm excited to be a part of something that you all have, that Seattle has going right now," Branch said. "I hope everyone is not looking at me like, 'Hey, this guy is the next thing to get us going.' "I'm just here to contribute a major role and also help this team get over that hump that they have been striving to get over. I'm just a piece of the puzzle."

Branch, 27, joins a receiving group that includes Darrell Jackson, Bobby Engram, Nate Burleson, Bobby Engram and D.J. Hackett. Jackson is a three-time 1,000-yard receiver. He will remain a starter as long as he's healthy. Engram is well-established as the third receiver, while Burleson was projected as the second starter -- at least before Branch arrived by trade this week.

The Seahawks have some time to figure out how the rotation will shake out. They received a two-week roster exemption to ease Branch into their offense. New England's system is quite a bit different, so Branch will have to dive into the playbook.

New England Patriots' Deion Branch runs for a TD in the AFC Championship game against the Pittsburgh Steelers Jan 23, 2005 (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)

"It's going to be a little adjustment," Branch said. "I'm familiar with it, but I think it is going to take some time. ... There is going to be some work, but I am prepared for it."

Branch has always been a diligent worker and consummate team player. New England players have been outspoken about how much he meant to their team. Branch thanked the Patriots organization for giving him a chance, looking past the nasty contract dispute that precipitated his departure from New England.

"I'd also like to thank Mr. (Robert) Kraft, Coach (Bill) Belichick and Scott Pioli and the organization of the New England Patriots for drafting me and giving me the opportunity to be the player that I have excelled to be," Branch said. "Hopefully I can continue to be that player here with the Seattle Seahawks and deliver as such that I did with the New England Patriots, and I will be ready and prepared to do that when my time comes."


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