Monday, September 11, 2006
Branch is heading to Seattle for reportedly a first round draft pick, which will likely be no better than #20 next April. The Pats could have held Branch's feet to the fire this season. The wide out would have played in the last seven games this year, and then the Pats would franchise his a$$ in 2007 for a little over $6 million. The team would probably get good production over the 23 regular season games plus the playoffs at a price tag of around $7.25 million. But B&P rationale likely did not combine 2006 and 2007.
After the 2005 season, B&P could have determined that Branch is not worth $6 million a season or the cost to franchise him in 2007. Since Branch wants that kind of money, the Pats did the smart thing allowing him to find his market value. If no other club gave him the $$$ now, Branch probably would not get it later and then the club would have a better shot at inking the Super Bowl MVP to their long-term deal. If so, then the Pats would know that Branch would only be playing seven games for them.
So the question boils down to: What are seven plus? 2006 games of Branch worth? The answer is the Pats trade compensation floor or the least they would accept for Branch. My guess, knowing how much every club values first-rounders like productive minimum salary baseball players, it was a later than a first. Assuming the Pats’ evaluation of Branch is correct; this was well played once again by B&P.