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Time to call it a Mistake: Aging Wideout Branch is Eating up Seattle’s Chance at a Super Bowl Title

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Over a year-and-a-half removed from being named MVP of the Super Bowl and after a near-1,000 yard season, he was brought into Seattle to help the lackluster receiving corps. However, all Deion Branch has done since joining the Seahawks is miss games and, when he has been able to play, underperform.

Seattle shipped a first-round draft choice to New England for the veteran wideout from Louisville, but now it’s time the Seahawks start seriously considering cutting their losses.

In Branch’s first three seasons in the Emerald City, he’s missed a total of 13 games. The 2009 season is only a week old, but he’s already added onto that total by missing Seattle’s win against the St. Louis Rams. When he returns this year to game-day action could be up for debate due to his nagging hamstring injury.

Consequently, Branch has seen a decrease in his statistical output.

In 2007, he started the season’s opener against Tampa Bay, but did not record a single catch. He would do this two other times that season, both times coming in the team’s two playoff games when the team needed their starting wide receivers to really step up and produce.

To pour salt on the open wound that was his under performance, he only eclipsed the century mark twice that season, both coming before Week Five. After his second 100-plus yard game of the year, Branch posted receiving yardage totals above 40 yards in only three games.

Last year proved to be both better and worse than 2007 for Branch. He improved his number of games in which he totaled over 40 receiving yards to five games, but he failed to have a single game in which he had at least 100 yards.

Also, in 2007 and 2008 combined he only managed eight receiving touchdowns.

I don’t care who you are, that is not first-round-draft-pick-caliber production.

Making things even worse is that he came into the 2009 season not even listed as a starter for the Seahawks and he will make a base salary of $4.94 million.

Unfortunately though, 2009 is just the tip of the ugly iceberg that is Branch’s remaining contract.

In 2010, he’s scheduled to make a base salary of $5.47 million.

His base salary is scheduled to continue to escalate in his final year of his current deal, as Branch is set to make $5.95 million in 2011.

That is far too much money to pay in the future, let alone this year, to an injury-prone wide receiver that no longer starts on your team.

Rookie Deon Butler has impressed many, including myself, during preseason practices and games.

I’ve said it in the past and will continue to say it, I think Butler can be something special in this league, possibly eventually getting to the level of a current Steve Smith in Carolina. Before you start an uproar and call the mental asylum on my behalf, go read about what he did while at Penn State. Watch some film and how he plays in his rookie season in the NFL, you might just find yourself thinking that Seattle found a diamond in the rough when they spent a third round selection on him in the 2009 NFL Draft.

With Butler waiting in the wings, the Seahawks might be forced to cut ties with the veteran Branch before his contract expires in hopes of obtaining some return on the team’s failed investment.

If they don’t get rid of Branch and instead keep him until his contract expires, Seattle will lose out on much-needed salary cap and roster space that it could use elsewhere, thus helping to close its own current window of winning a Super Bowl.

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2 Responses to “Time to call it a Mistake: Aging Wideout Branch is Eating up Seattle’s Chance at a Super Bowl Title”

  1. BlueTalon says:

    I don’t know what planet you were on when Branch played in games when healthy, but I’m pretty sure you weren’t watching the games. Branch’s gametime performances have NOT fit the description of “underperforming.” I’m suspecting you wrote what you did, not because of what you have seen Branch actually do in games, but because of his statistics. Relying on statistics to make whatever point you want to make is certainly convenient, since you can choose to ignore the context in which those statistics happened. (In his zero-catch games, how many plays was he in? How many times was he double teamed? What was the result of those plays? How many uncatchable throws went his direction? Did his presence on the field help in other ways, like downfield blocking? Was the QB hurting? Your failure to even allude to these questions and others like them shows that you don’t care much about the answers — and unfortunately for you, the answers relate directly to the case you are trying to make.)

    We get it, you don’t like Branch, and you didn’t like the deal. There’s no doubt that the Seahawks overpaid for him, but there was no reason to believe he’d be injured as much as he has been — and had he been healthy, it would be a whole lot harder to make the case that it was a bad deal. (If you average out his performance/statistics over 16 game seasons, his numbers wouldn’t look bad at all. Your approach, adding up his TDs over two injury-ridden seasons and declaring it “not first-round-draft-pick-caliber production” is disingenuous, and almost as stupid as saying Julius Jones sucks because he only had 698 yards last year, without bothering to point out that he only played half of the season.)

    But the silliest part of your hit piece is the contention that keeping Branch will close the Super Bowl “window” by denying “much needed salary cap and roster space.” Roster space? Really? Who would you sign to replace Branch right now? What vital player are we not signing right now because Branch is taking his roster spot? Would you sign a tackle and only go with 4 WRs? Or would you fire Branch and hire a new WR? And if so, who? Statements like that might sound OK in theory and in your head, but once you start plugging in names, the weakness of the theory is revealed.

    And our salary cap situation is hardly desperate. The Seahawks are NOT in a situation where they will be rationing lunches if they don’t dump Branch’s salary. Any move they deem necessary, they are able to make. And they have determined, even after last year, that they will go with only five receivers; that Branch is one of the best five receivers; and that they can afford his salary. Greater minds than yours have concluded that.

  2. Richard Arthur says:

    See that’s why you don’t get to make the roster decisions for the Seahawks.Thank God!

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