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Old 08-01-2006, 06:31 PM   #1
SteelersMongol
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Default Branching out: Brady to Patriots: Signing No. 1 wideout critical

I just read this on SI. I'm very interested in your opinions on what would happen if he won't get signed, and IF is there any room for him in the Steelers team? I hate that guy (Branch)! as much as I respect him.

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http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/200...ats/index.html
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First and foremost: His arm is fine. Tom Brady says the three consecutive training-camp practices he skipped on Sunday and Monday were merely a precaution from having thrown on each of the previous eight days, that he and the Patriots are "just being smart ... it's a long year."

Now, if he could just get his head straight.

Brady is too polite to come right out and say it, but he's mad as hell about the contract-related absence of wideout Deion Branch, and he's not directing his anger at his No. 1 receiver. Unlike three summers ago, when Brady became visibly emotional following the abrupt release of safety Lawyer Milloy shortly before the start of the regular season -- among other things, Brady said the purging of his close friend and fellow locker-room leader proved that the NFL was "as cutthroat as cutthroat can be" -- this time the star quarterback is taking the diplomatic route in getting his message across.

But make no mistake, the message is the same: Show my guy the money, and don't even think about showing him the door.

"Deion is the most important player on our offense," Brady told SI.com. "When I look at the elite receivers in the game, he is second to nobody. He doesn't get a lot of the credit, because we do spread the ball around here, and he doesn't feel a need to promote himself like so many guys at that position. But he is that good."

If Brady sounds like he is auditioning for a job as Branch's agent, look at things from the quarterback's perspective. Last Friday, as the Patriots took the field for their first full-squad practice of training camp, Brady's top target was Reche Caldwell, a free-agent signee who spent four undistinguished seasons with the Chargers.

Meanwhile David Givens, last year's No. 2 receiver, was in camp with Tennessee, which gave him a five-year, $24 million free-agent deal in the offseason. (A trio of 2005 backups -- Tim Dwight, Bethel Johnson and Andre Davis -- are also gone.) Troy Brown, a 14-year veteran, was missing because of an excused absence. Chad Jackson, a second-round draft pick, was on the physically-unable-to-perform list with a hamstring injury.

And Branch was digging in for what looks like it may be a protracted holdout. Unhappy with the $1.05 million he stands to earn in the fifth and final year of his original rookie contract, Branch has rejected the team's offer of a three-year extension worth nearly $19 million. He is being fined $14,000 for every day he misses camp.

Talk about Killer B's: Branch vs. Bill Belichick is shaping up as the summer's most interesting staredown. And the Patriots coach is well aware of where his franchise quarterback stands.

When told of Brady's comments to SI.com at a press conference on Tuesday, Belichick said: "I understand there's a relationship between players. Who are the players you would think would be important to a quarterback? Safeties. Every player's important. Every player."

Brady, who is regularly exchanging e-mails and text messages with Branch, conceded he's stressed about the uncertain outcome of the showdown.

"I hope he's here another 5-7 years," Brady said, "but that's not up to me. The player-club dynamic has changed so much over the years. I know that Deion's the best guy in the world to have around; I also know that Coach Belichick and [vice president of player personnel] Scott Pioli are very disciplined, and the decisions they make are very black-and-white.

"I have a lot of confidence that this is going to get worked out, I really do. But I'm glad we're not playing a game this week."

Brady's optimism is admirable given the shaky state of affairs. Branch's agent, Jason Chayut, did not return a call seeking comment on Monday, but a source familiar with the situation outlined it thusly:

• Before training camp, the Patriots made an offer for an extension that would have given Branch a signing bonus of nearly $4 million and paid him roughly $20 million over the next four seasons. The deal was structured in such a way that unless the team were to release Branch following the 2006 season (in which case he'd become an unrestricted free agent), the receiver would almost assuredly be guaranteed the balance of his contract, as the Pats' salary-cap hit beginning in '07 would have been prohibitive.

• The Patriots expected Branch's agent to make a counter offer and that negotiations would bridge the gap. Instead, Chayut rejected the deal outright and asked, as he had since March, that the team agree not to place a franchise tag on the wideout after '06. The Patriots refused, believing, in the words of one executive, that such a move would set a "horrible precedent." They also told Chayut that if Branch didn't report for the first day of camp, the offer for the extension would be off the table and no further discussions would take place.

• As of Monday afternoon, there had been no further communication between the club and Chayut. In theory, Branch, 27, could wait until the 10th game of the regular season to report and still receive credit for having played a fifth year, thus making him eligible for unrestricted free agency -- unless, of course, New England were to place a franchise tag on him.

Branch reportedly wants to be paid as much as the Colts' Reggie Wayne, who in February signed a six-year, $40 million contract extension with $13.5 million in bonuses. Branch, who was MVP of Super Bowl XXXIX, caught a career-best 78 passes for 998 yards and five touchdowns in '05. Those stats aren't enough to arouse most fantasy players, but Brady, perhaps the only superstar quarterback besides John Elway who has never had a marquee receiver (at least before Rod Smith and Ed McCaffrey reinvented themselves), believes that he and Branch are on the verge of something special.

"You only get better as a quarterback and a receiver when you've been through stuff together, and Deion and I are kind of at that point where we can draw on past experiences and react to things instantly," Brady said. "He has such unbelievable quickness, and he uses that and his strength to get free on the line of scrimmage when people try to jam him. I mean, last year Sam Madison, who's one of the best at jamming receivers, tried to get him at the line, and Deion was open by like 10 yards.

"I asked [cornerback] Eric Warfield, who was with the Chiefs until we signed him this year, 'How does Deion compare with the best receivers in the league?' He said, 'Deion was the best I faced last year. He was spectacular.'"

But because Belichick, Pioli and owner Robert Kraft believe so strongly that their system of player-valuation will translate into success -- and because they've been blessed with a transcendent quarterback who enables everyone around him to thrive -- there's virtually no chance the team will ever spend big money to land an ultra-talented receiver in free agency.

The Pats are not averse to going after productive players such as Derrick Mason, who nearly took a slightly better offer from the Pats before accepting a five-year, $20 million deal from the Ravens prior to last season; or Eric Moulds, who ultimately chose to sign with the Texans this spring. Yet New England management believes its next star wideout will come from the draft -- the current thinking being that Jackson, a second-round pick from Florida, has that kind of potential down the road.

It should also be noted that the team is loaded at tight end, with burgeoning beast Ben Watson, fierce-blocking Daniel Graham and promising third-round draft pick David Thomas. But the stark reality is that without Branch the Patriots' passing game could begin the season in a state of disarray.

Is it any wonder that Brady, when asked if he was experiencing emotions similar to those following Milloy's departure, answered yes, without hesitation?

"When that happened, I just kind of expressed myself, and after I did I had a lot of conversations with Belichick and Mr. Kraft," Brady said. "They know I'm a very emotional person; I wear it on my sleeve, on and off the field. If there's one thing I'm not, it's full of crap.

"The only people who truly understand what Deion is going through are those of us on the team who are his buddies. But at the same time, we're in here working and he's not, and he feels a little awkward. But the bottom line is that Deion is one of the best in the world at what he does, and it's so hard for him and for us, because this is a really ruthless sport."

These are not offhand comments; rather, they are those of a grumpy man who understands his power and his place. At 28, Brady has learned how to play the game behind the game -- and, in this case, the two battlegrounds may be inextricably linked.
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Old 08-01-2006, 06:52 PM   #2
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Default Re: Branching out: Brady to Patriots: Signing No. 1 wideout critical

Brady's been very upfront about this for a couple of months now. Pretty easy to see where he's coming from.

As for you getting Branch. If it ever happens, it won't be this year.
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Old 08-01-2006, 06:55 PM   #3
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Default Re: Branching out: Brady to Patriots: Signing No. 1 wideout critical

I still think at this point the Patriots are in the running for SB 41, but if they lose Branch, I think the dynasty is pretty much over a little while. Behind him they have pretty much no number 1 reciever. Is there even any on the free agent market right now?
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Old 08-01-2006, 07:27 PM   #4
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Default Re: Branching out: Brady to Patriots: Signing No. 1 wideout critical

I'm sure he'll get signed it would be a stupid move not to sign him. The only other WR that can be a go to guy is Chad Jackson, and he hasn't proven himself yet.
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Old 08-02-2006, 01:37 AM   #5
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Default Re: Branching out: Brady to Patriots: Signing No. 1 wideout critical

Quote:
Originally Posted by boLT fan
I still think at this point the Patriots are in the running for SB 41, but if they lose Branch, I think the dynasty is pretty much over a little while. Behind him they have pretty much no number 1 reciever. Is there even any on the free agent market right now?
Are you serious? Their defense is softer than cream cheese. And their "dynasty" was over last year!
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Old 08-02-2006, 02:48 AM   #6
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Default Re: Branching out: Brady to Patriots: Signing No. 1 wideout critical

Quote:
Originally Posted by CapeCod Steel Head
Are you serious? Their defense is softer than cream cheese. And their "dynasty" was over last year!
Are u serious? How is the pats defense soft? Lol from what I know they still got tedy bruschi and are gonna get harrison back from injury this yr, they are still as solid as they come on defense. Till somebody wins 3 of 4 superbowls like they did. They still are the dynasty, as much as it hurts 2 say it..
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Old 08-02-2006, 11:04 AM   #7
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Default Re: Branching out: Brady to Patriots: Signing No. 1 wideout critical

Quote:
Originally Posted by Polamalu43
Are u serious? How is the pats defense soft? Lol from what I know they still got tedy bruschi and are gonna get harrison back from injury this yr, they are still as solid as they come on defense. Till somebody wins 3 of 4 superbowls like they did. They still are the dynasty, as much as it hurts 2 say it..
I believe they wound up being ranked as 26th last season. Yes they get Harrison back, but they need alot more than him in their secondary, and they lost Willie McGuinest at lb. an area where they are very thin.
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Old 08-02-2006, 02:01 PM   #8
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Default Re: Branching out: Brady to Patriots: Signing No. 1 wideout critical

Its pretty simple.

If the Patriots dont think that Branch is worth the money his agent is asking, then there is a very good chance that the Steelers wont think he is worth it either.

The same applies in reverse.

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Old 08-02-2006, 02:03 PM   #9
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Default Re: Branching out: Brady to Patriots: Signing No. 1 wideout critical

Quote:
Originally Posted by CapeCod Steel Head
Are you serious? Their defense is softer than cream cheese. And their "dynasty" was over last year!
FYI,

the Steelers of the 70's had the odd year where they didnt win it all.

They are still known as a Dynasty.

In fact, even if we dont win it again this year we are still on target to match and overtake the phenomonal efforts of that 70's Steelers team.

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Old 08-02-2006, 02:45 PM   #10
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Default Re: Branching out: Brady to Patriots: Signing No. 1 wideout critical

Ok about Branch. I think in time a contract will be worked out. As for Branch coming to the Steelers. I don't think that will happen. You drafted Santonio Holmes in the first round for a reason. Plus we have Troy and Ben's contracts coming up. We couldn't afford to give Branch the kind of money he and his agent wants.
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