In a surprising move, the New England Patriots have released wide receiver Deion Branch, long time favorite target of Tom Brady and MVP of Super Bowl XXXIX. The Patriots signed Brandon Lloyd this off-season, so it appears they are content with the weapons they have for Brady.
Branch tied a Super Bowl record with his MVP performance, catching 11 passes for 133 yards. He has bounced back and forth between the Seattle Seahawks and Patriots since coming into the league in 2002. Branch has never had a 1,000 yard season in his 10 seasons.
The combination of Rob Gronkowski, Aaron Hernandez, Wes Welker and Lloyd should yet again be a potent combination for Brady, who tossed for 5,235 yards and 39 touchdowns a year ago. Gronk set the record for tight ends with 17 touchdown receptions to go along with his equally dominating 90 receptions and 1,327 yards.
This move to cut Branch comes on the heels of the team releasing Jabar Gaffney and Dante Stallworth, paving the way for some of the younger receivers to emerge as the third and fourth wide receiver options. Of course, that doesn’t mean those guys will get a lot of reps, as the Pats like to have their two tight ends on the field as much as possible.
Still though, Julian Edleman, Matthew Slater and Jesse Holley have to like their chances to make the roster now. Even if the Pats do not use them as much, they should contribute on special teams.
Jeff is an NFL Featured Columnist for RantSports.com. He contributes mainly to the New York Giants and NFL Rumors pages. He also will occasionally touch on the NBA and humorous videos involving all sports. Check back to Rant Sports for more NFL roster cuts!
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