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Seattle Acquires Unhappy Branch

September 12, 2006|From the Associated Press

KIRKLAND, Wash. — The New England Patriots ended the holdout of receiver Deion Branch on Monday by trading him to the Seattle Seahawks for a first-round draft pick.

Seahawks General Manager Tim Ruskell called Branch "a known commodity" and added that a first-round pick can be hit and miss.

Seattle expects to finalize a new, multiyear contract with the most valuable player from the Super Bowl in 2005 in the next few days.

Seattle now has four proven, NFL starting receivers for Pro Bowl quarterback Matt Hasselbeck and an offense that was sluggish in a 9-6 victory over Detroit in its opener Sunday.

"Our quarterback, he's in his prime of his career," Ruskell said. "We want to give him all the tools to work with."

And, as Coach Mike Holmgren pointed out, "We still have the MVP of football on our team," 2005 league rushing leader Shaun Alexander.

"We still have to figure out how to get all the people on the field," a smiling Holmgren said. "That's the chess game for our coaches right now."

Branch, 27, was entering the last season of the five-year contract he signed as a rookie and was scheduled to make $1.045 million. He held out of the mandatory minicamp in June and all of training camp. He has been subject to a $14,000 fine for each day he held out from July 28, the start of camp.

"It's been a long process," Patriots Coach Bill Belichick said. "I think we tried hard to make it work out. I think Deion tried hard. We tried. It didn't work out and we've moved on."

In Super Bowl XXXIX, Branch had 11 catches for 133 yards against Philadelphia, helping the Patriots win their third championship in four years. Last season, he caught 78 passes for 998 yards and five touchdowns, all career highs. In four seasons, he has 213 receptions for 2,744 yards and 14 touchdowns.

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