Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

11 Oct 2010

Patriots Acquire Deion Branch

The Patriots have acquired Deion Branch from the Seahawks, giving up a fourth-round pick.

Posted by: Bill Barnwell on 11 Oct 2010

44 comments, Last at 13 Oct 2010, 7:30pm by Never Surrender

Comments

1
by Steve Nolan (not verified) :: Mon, 10/11/2010 - 9:34pm

Well, that sucks.

2
by B :: Mon, 10/11/2010 - 9:57pm

Yay? I don't know how to feel here.

3
by WC Fan (not verified) :: Mon, 10/11/2010 - 10:21pm

Moss nets them a third but Branch costs a 4th? EEEEsh.

37
by kamchatka (not verified) :: Tue, 10/12/2010 - 2:37pm

Pretty sure this is all a very elaborate insult.

4
by MJK :: Mon, 10/11/2010 - 10:55pm

The 4th they gave up is the pick they got from Denver for Laurence Maroney. At least, that is what Reiss says.

So, if you perfer, you can think of it as turning Maroney into Deion Branch.

Or, alternatively, Maroney and Moss into Branch and a 3rd round pick.

5
by John (not verified) :: Mon, 10/11/2010 - 11:01pm

The 4th they gave up is the pick they got from Denver for Laurence Maroney.

In other words, it cost them absolutely nothing, at least if you discount the waste of a pick on Maroney in the first place.

Wasn't there a peculation that the Pats grabbed Maroney because the Colts wanted him? Since we got Addai instead, I'm happy for the Patriots. Really.

10
by MJK :: Tue, 10/12/2010 - 1:30am

The way I remember it (granted, maybe not accurate) is that there were rumors that both Shannahan in Denver and Polian in Indy liked Maroney. So maybe it wasn't a case of grabbing him to spite Indy as much as it was that several well-respected and usually competent personnell evaluation teams all had mistakenly high grades on him.

The pick was certainly lauded by draft pundits. For what that's worth. I think everyone just missed the boat on evaluating Maroney. He has the physical tools, but never got his head around what it takes to playing pro ball. Maybe Dungy could have gotten more out of him...I wonder if the Colts stretch-based running game would be easier for a RB with physical tools and questional decision making ability to play in than the Patriots' offense...

11
by Herm? (not verified) :: Tue, 10/12/2010 - 4:48am

If this is the case,Indy dodged a bullet by not getting Maroney. There might not be a runningback in the NFL worse at pass blocking. There might not be a worse runningback in the NFL at picking a spot and running. The guy is unbelievable at running in open space, but he lacks the ability to get himself into open space. If your logic brings you to thinking he should transition to slot receiver...maybe, but only if he learns how to catch. He can't really do that either.

13
by RichC (not verified) :: Tue, 10/12/2010 - 8:21am

I honestly don't think decision making was ever his problem. I think hes gunshy from all the shoulder and chest injuries early on.

19
by Monkey Business (not verified) :: Tue, 10/12/2010 - 9:59am

I remember watching that draft and thinking "Well, Edge is gone, we need a new RB, how about this Maroney kid from Minnesota?" and then being really disappointed when New England got him, and then we picked Addai and I went "Who the hell is this guy?".

This is why I watch football, and am not in an NFL front office.

26
by Bobman :: Tue, 10/12/2010 - 12:28pm

I was really disappointed they never picked that Leaf guy when they had the chance, but hey, everybody makesmistakes... you take the good with the bad (with the HOFer).

My Addai concerns were that he was never a workhorse, which was the Edge paradigm. They broke that tendency and won a SB with a great platoon.

Back to Maroney, I think the smartest thing Polian can do is wine and dine guys he obviousy has no interest in. Messes with the heads of other teams. (And yes, I am kidding. People give him WAY too much credit for changing rules, influencing the tides, and inventing butter.)

Branch was not exactly healthy during his tenure in Seattle... I am curious if this will amount to a trade of one injury-prone RB for an injury-prone WR. Not a lot of risk for the Pats if you look at it as a Moroney/Branch trade, but if they look at Branch's past few years compared to Moss's, well, it looks like a bit of a dropoff, production-wise. (then again, if you compare Moss's last few seasons to 90% of the WRs out there...)

39
by dmb :: Tue, 10/12/2010 - 3:41pm

Back when Indy drafted Edge, I got really, really excited because it let Williams fall to the Redskins' slot. My beloved Terry Allen was leaving the team, and his backup, Stephen Davis, had made a name for himself only by getting sucker punched my Michael Westbrook in training camp.

Just as I'm getting psyched about how my favorite team is about to get the next Bo Jackson, news breaks that the Saints have traded their whole draft plus next years' first and third rounders for the Redskins' slot. The 'Skins then trade back up a few slots to pick Champ Bailey.

In my infinite pre-teen wisdom, I am inconsolable about the fact that my favorite teams has passed on the next Bo Jackson in order to draft some guy named "Champ" ... never mind that the team just received literally an entire drafts' worth of picks in the process. (To top it off, the Redskins took Chris Samuels with one of their first-rounders the following year!) Needless to say, my dad will never forget my expert opinion on that day.

6
by johonny (not verified) :: Tue, 10/12/2010 - 12:10am

I guess this will be an amazing test of the affect of a QB on a wr because Branch hasn't been much of a player for a while now.

7
by Pat Swinnegan :: Tue, 10/12/2010 - 12:34am

Maybe, but I can't help but doubt if Branch will see the field much. I think this is more of move to add depth. At least, that's the only way I can make any sense of it!

8
by Alexander :: Tue, 10/12/2010 - 1:16am

Deion Branch owners rejoice!

*Crickets*

9
by BywaterBrat :: Tue, 10/12/2010 - 1:29am

I think Branch will produce in that offense- and accelerate the learning curve of the youngsters.

By the way, hadn't payed attention to a Jets game yet but they really are impressive, especially from a personnel standpoint. As y'all beckoned, Cromartie was unbelievable and, for all his faults, his closing speed is the one tool that seems to be able to prevent the best deep receivers (my deeply rooted paranoia of Belichek makes me believe that the Pats dealt Moss because he was no longer effective at drawing over the top coverage against that breed of corner).
Also, their pass (or run) rush is very consistent on every down- you won't see more thana handful of plays where they get penetration. Not sure if that was biased in this game due to the retarded blocking and susceptibility to commit errors of the Vikings passing game.

Watching the media crucify (ok, get aggressive) Brett finally makes me realize that if it wasn't him then I'd be saying leave the man's private life alone- as grotesque and hilarious his behavior was. Slices Tiger into a water hazard.

14
by RichC (not verified) :: Tue, 10/12/2010 - 8:28am

I don't think its that Randy can't beat those type anymore. I think its that Tom isn't accurate at distance enough to beat those guys.

Brady consistently underthrows Moss.

15
by PatsFan :: Tue, 10/12/2010 - 9:06am

Agreed. It's like it all came together in 2007 for Brady re: the long ball.

He wasn't that good with it before 2007 and he wasn't that good with it after 2007.

It isn't to say he never connected. I remember the in-stride bomb to Troy Brown vs. MIA in Oct 2003. Or the bomb to Branch @ PIT in the 2004 AFCCG. Or the bomb to Bethel Johnson vs. SEA in 2005 to help keep the consecutive games streak alive (which was overthrown and took perhaps the best effort of Johnson's career to catch).

But it seems that too many times a deep receiver has his man beat by a few steps and Brady can't put enough on the ball and the DB is able to make up the separation and knock the ball away.

18
by Anonymous3737 (not verified) :: Tue, 10/12/2010 - 9:54am

Great memory! Those ARE the 3 most memorable non-Moss long balls of Brady's career. And they are memorable for both the particular timing and for how unusual they were for Brady and the Pats' offense.

20
by RichC (not verified) :: Tue, 10/12/2010 - 11:15am

I'm not even sure its the arm, honestly. It seems like he double clutches (ala bledsoe) every time he goes to throw the ball long, and if he just threw it a fraction of a second earlier, the WR wouldn't have to slow down.

22
by poboy :: Tue, 10/12/2010 - 11:36am

I don't have a dog in this fight, but I saw Brady chuck the ball about 65 yards in the air earlier this year, so I don't believe arm strength is the problem.

30
by RickD :: Tue, 10/12/2010 - 12:45pm

Agreed. Brady doesn't quite have the touch for the long ball that some other QBs have. McNabb and Favre looked good in comparison this weekend.

Of course, throwing deep with accuracy is one of the toughest things you can ask of a QB. That was something Elway did better than anybody else I can recall.

16
by AnonymousOne (not verified) :: Tue, 10/12/2010 - 9:07am

Heresy!!!

I am pretty sure Brady has never done anything wrong. Ever.

21
by Bobby Wommack (not verified) :: Tue, 10/12/2010 - 11:25am

Complete bullshit. Anyone who has paid attention to Randy this year and can see he can't get separation anymore and has been struggling against press coverage. He's not explosive off the line anymore. He can't even make the same vertical plays he used to. Not to mention his hands have deteriorated greatly. I mean, didn't two games against Cromartie prove that? What about Vonte Davis shutting him down? How about you turn on the Bengals tape and see that most of the long balls Brady missed to Moss were overthrown. Does the fact that Moss has more drops this year (was leading the league coming into this week) than all of last year mean its Brady's fault too? How about Brady was only completing 42% of his passes thrown at Moss, when the next lowest figure towards any TE or WR on the team is 75%.

Yeah, its all because Brady can't throw the long ball anymore, it has nothing to do with Moss being 33 and at the end of his career.

25
by CDB (not verified) :: Tue, 10/12/2010 - 12:02pm

He had Cromratie beat at least three times last night had Favre been able to make the throw out in front of Moss. He did it once and the results was a TD. that's fairly impressive for a guy who was running nothing by fly routes all game.

Moss can still get separation. He's not done (he's only 32...Wayne is 31 and no one talks about him being washed up). He will produce if you give him shots.

28
by Bobman :: Tue, 10/12/2010 - 12:36pm

He and Wayne play a different game. The Colts plan calls for a lot more 7-yard slants, 12-yard come-backers, and very few over-the-top/out-physical the DB type passes. The come-backers do lead to double-move stop-and-go routes, but they are the exception. And with Indy's youth movement, I suspect Wayne will get fewer and few of those in a few years time....

Back to Moss, I don't think he's slipped measureably, but when your game is based more on things that fade (speed and physicality) rather than things that don't (crisp routes, savvy), it could appear that one guy is fading more than another, when really it's a matter of style. And Moss is still 6-4 while Wayne is 6-0, and that advantage ain't going away anytime soon...

31
by RickD :: Tue, 10/12/2010 - 12:48pm

I've seen several routes this year where Moss has beaten the defender and has had to slow down because Brady did not lead him properly. The lack of separation in those cases was because of the pass, not because of Moss.

34
by Bobby Wommack (not verified) :: Tue, 10/12/2010 - 1:03pm

Really, I didn't know you had access to the coach's film?

I saw several plays where Moss got no separation - who is right?

Fact is, the numbers speak for themselves -- Moss had the most drops on the team and the lowest completion percentage. The rest is debatable as we can all nit pick a play here and there to rationalize our biases. To say its only Brady's fault, though, that Moss was only catching 42% of the passes thrown his way is laughable.

When I see these types of numbers (from Mike Reiss), I'm sorry, I tend to think its more Moss than Brady.

Here is the season's target percentages:

Fred Taylor -- 2 targets/2 catches (100 percent)
Danny Woodhead -- 1 target/1 catch (100 percent)
BenJarvus Green-Ellis -- 1 target/1 catch (100 percent)
Aaron Hernandez -- 20 targets/18 catches (90 percent)
Rob Gronkowski -- 7 targets/6 catches (85.7 percent)
Julian Edelman -- 5 targets/4 catches (80.0 percent)
Brandon Tate -- 14 targets/11 catches (78.5 percent)
Wes Welker -- 34 targets/26 catches (76.4 percent)
Kevin Faulk -- 10 targets/6 catches (60 percent)
Sammy Morris -- 2 targets/1 catch (50.0 percent)
Randy Moss -- 22 targets/9 catches (40.9 percent)
Alge Crumpler -- 1 target/0 catches (0 percent)
Matthew Slater -- 1 target/ 0 catches (0 percent)

41
by AudacityOfHoops :: Tue, 10/12/2010 - 3:56pm

I am most definitely NOT arguing that Brady is mostly to blame, but I'll play devil's advocate...

If Moss is thrown to deep more than the others, then he could very well have a lower overall catch percentage, despite being better at each distance, since deep passes are harder to complete. For example:

PLAYER ... SHORT CATCH/TARG(PCT) ... DEEP CATCH/TARG(PCT) ... OVERALL CATCH/TARG(PCT)
Randal Fungus ... 2/2(100) ... 7/20(35) ... 9/22(41)
Will Whisker ... 24/25(96) ... 2/9(30) ... 26/34(76)

I don't know where to go to get a breakdown by pass distance, to check this out. Plus, though I haven't seen Moss play this year, I am sure some of it really is Moss dropping balls, based on what I've read on FO threads.

42
by bravehoptoad :: Tue, 10/12/2010 - 7:43pm

Sir, I very much doubt you have any real experience with bull shit. Few people do. It is, for one thing, virtually indistinguishable from cow shit. It is, for shit, remarkably fragrant, and some people even think to like the scent. When dry, it makes excellent fire starter, and burns cleanly, hot and without smoke. It is also an excellent fertilizer.

Perhaps you need to think a bit before impugning such a modest, yet useful, material.

40
by BSR (not verified) :: Tue, 10/12/2010 - 3:51pm

Nobody is accurate throwing 50 yard bombs. That's why teams have moved away from the vertical passing game, its not consistent enough.

12
by bubqr :: Tue, 10/12/2010 - 6:01am

A 4th ???? That's outstandingly bad.

38
by kamchatka (not verified) :: Tue, 10/12/2010 - 2:41pm

It's a lot more than the pocket lint I'm pretty sure Seattle would've been happy to take for Branch.

17
by Keasley (not verified) :: Tue, 10/12/2010 - 9:14am

In the week since their last game (Seahawks had a bye Sunday), the Seahawks have effectively traded Marshawn Lynch straight up for Deion Branch -- since both players cost a 4th. Given their respective ages and areas of team need, this should be viewed favourably by Seahawks fans.

24
by Boo-urns (not verified) :: Tue, 10/12/2010 - 11:59am

Great point. Seahawks personnel moves have been impressive since the regime change.

36
by BigWoody (not verified) :: Tue, 10/12/2010 - 1:17pm

Perhaps this is convoluted homer logic, but...the Seahawks just effectively got a do-over on the Branch for a fist round pick deal. They gave up the 24th pick in the 2007 draft for Branch. One could argue that thay just traded Branch for Lynch (gave a 4th, received a 4th). Lynch was the 12th pick in the 2007 draft (I think). Losers in all this?...Bills, who else?

23
by William Lloyd Garrision III (not verified) :: Tue, 10/12/2010 - 11:48am

I understand baseball free agency and value, i.e. what the going rate for a "win" is on the open market, and how that varies for a team expected to win 85 games, verus one at 90, etc.

But the football trades continue to baffle me, though no doubt there is a logic to it.

So, is a 1000 yard, 10 TD type back with an average DVOA something you can 100% guaranteed pick up in the fourth round? Is a 50 catch, 650 yard receiver (Branch) something you can guaranteed pick up in the fourth round? It seems to me like it's a 30% to 40% proposition that you will get that level of production from players in those slots.

Perhaps I am just confused because the Redskins can't get skill position players that they draft to produce, and I live in an alternate, befuddling universe.

32
by commissionerleaf :: Tue, 10/12/2010 - 12:51pm

Draft picks are overvalued relative to production because (A) Everyone thinks they evaluate players well and won't make a mistake; (B) The draft provides you with a player who is both cheap and young; and (C) Players who change teams often take time to get involved and/or are less effective.

Randy Moss left because - whether or not he could get separation - he was becoming disgruntled with his role in the offense. It's true; Brady isn't a deep passing quarterback by skill. His magical year with Moss was part luck, part unfamiliarity with the offense on the part of opposing coordinators, part an offensive line playing out of its mind, and part dinking and dunking like usual. We remember the few bombs to Randy Moss, but he only had a 15.2/catch average, and he caught fewer balls than Welker, who averaged only ten.

I'm not saying Brady is a poor quarterback. He is one of the best in the league. But he's one of the best in the league because he makes good decisions and works with his receivers. He doesn't strong-arm short-area passes like McNabb, gamble like Cutler or Favre, or occasionally freak out and go on tilt like Warner did. Every single one of those guys had better physical tools than Brady. But Brady plays on a great team, and brings consistency. So he's had more success.

The Branch trade makes sense. The Patriots are thin at receiver, and Branch is probably as good a fit as he was in the first place.

43
by Mr Shush :: Wed, 10/13/2010 - 7:04am

Draft picks are over-valued compared to median production; I'm not convinced their over-valued relative to mean production. The point is that elite players are very seldom available other than through the draft, as they are rarely allowed to reach free agency, and when they are, they come extremely expensive and may not have long left. If you draft a star performer, you probably get to keep them for most or all of their productive career, and you get them very cheap for the first three or four years.

33
by RickD :: Tue, 10/12/2010 - 12:52pm

You're not completely accounting for present value. The Patriots have a need right now for a WR that wouldn't have been met by a fourth round pick next year.

Given the depth of the Patriots roster, and the fact that the Patriots had 2 picks in each of the first four rounds at the time, their 4th round pick would have been their 7th or 8th best rookie trying to make a 53-man roster. So picking up a proven WR, esp. one who has worked very well with Tom Brady, is a good move for a Patriots.

27
by MJK :: Tue, 10/12/2010 - 12:33pm

When people say this trade is "bad", do they mean for the Seahawks or the Patriots?

I actually think it's a good trade, win-win, for both sides.

Branch wasn't successful in Seattle, had been injury prone, was aging, and had a salary too large for his production. Seattle also has a number of other WR's to turn to, so losing Branch doesn't hurt them that much. In short, to get a 4th round pick for an underproducing (relative to salary), aging WR when you have adequate depth at the position is a good deal.

On the other hand, Branch is probably more valuable to the Patriots than he would be to any other team. The Patriots are thin at WR after trading Moss, and also very young at the position (Welker is the salty old vet)...they are now bringing in a high character veteran who already knows their system, has shown that he could be productive in that system, and adds depth at a position of need. It's almost certain that Branch will perform better with Brady throwing him the ball than Hasselbeck. A 4th is perhaps a little high a price to pay, but 4th round picks don't hit that often, especially at WR, so a reliable veteran who already knows your system and plays a position of need is probably worth it.

Of course, a lot depends on how injury prone Branch really is these days, and also if the Patriots are taking on his full salary or Seattle is sharing some of it. But I like the trade for both sides.

35
by Bobman :: Tue, 10/12/2010 - 1:06pm

Bravo. Well said. All trades don't have a winner/loser and team context is crucial--just looking at production numbers is only part of it.

My concern for the Pats is Branch's injury history. Also, hasn't their O changed since 2005?

29
by JonFrum (not verified) :: Tue, 10/12/2010 - 12:42pm

If Branch's knees hold up, he's a second or third receiver, depending on the team. He's certainly not a replacement for Moss in style or quality, but he can help move the chains. Brady is certainly capable of using such a receiver to keep drives alive. If it's Maroney for Branch, it's a reasonable deal, although Patriots fans undervalue Maroney - look at his yards per run over the last few years.

I suspect talk with the Seahawks went hand in hand with the decision to move Moss. And Brady was certainly in on it. Branch was his guy. You keep Brady happy this year, and go into the next draft hoping for a rookie pay scale. Then draft both number one picks, and pay them chump change.

44
by Never Surrender (not verified) :: Wed, 10/13/2010 - 7:30pm

I'm now awaiting Jason La Confora's next installment of his thrilling series, "Belichick Knows Exactly What He's Doing," wherein he'll praise trading draft picks for players, as opposed to trading players for draft picks.