RENTON, Wash. – Deion Branch is headed back to the New England Patriots and a reunion with Tom Brady.
Branch, the former Super Bowl MVP wide receiver with the Patriots, was traded Monday night by Seattle, the Seahawks announced.
Seattle said it will get a fourth-round pick for Branch, who rejoins the team that drafted him in 2002.
“(He’s) excited as can be,” Branch’s agent, Jason Chayut, said.
The trade ended a day of speculation after Branch was absent from Seattle’s practice.
Seahawks coach Pete Carroll was nearly silent on Branch’s status, other than saying he gave Branch an excused “personal day” on Monday as the Seahawks returned from their bye.
Reports first surfaced last week of talks between the Seahawks and Patriots following the trade of Randy Moss from New England to Minnesota.
Branch joins a young New England receiving group, sans veteran Wes Welker. Aside from Welker, second-year receiver Brandon Tate is the only other Patriots receiver with more than 10 catches.
Branch is signed through next season. He is scheduled to make $5.45 million in base salary this year and $5.95 million in 2011.
Before coming to Seattle, Branch was a rising star with the Patriots. He caught a career-best 78 passes for nearly 1,000 yards and five touchdowns in 2005 that followed up his Super Bowl MVP performance a year earlier. Branch had 11 catches for 133 yards in the Super Bowl against Philadelphia.
Branch arrived in Seattle in 2006, acquired from the Patriots for a first-round draft pick, but that first season in Seattle was the only time Branch was able to stay healthy. His time in Seattle was mostly defined by injuries, missing parts of the previous three seasons with some sort of injury.
Most of Branch’s ailments revolved around his left knee he first injured in a snowy playoff game against Green Bay in January 2008. He also missed time with hamstring and foot injuries.
So far this season, Branch has remained healthy. He’s caught 13 passes for 112 yards and a touchdown, but had just one catch in Seattle’s 20-3 loss to St. Louis in the game before its bye week.
His future with Seattle was brought into question when the Seahawks signed Brandon Stokley. Just a few days after being signed, Stokley led the team in catches and targets in the loss to St. Louis.
Branch was in Louisville, Ky., during the weekend, where his number was honored at the University of Louisville.
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