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Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Branch plans no-show for Camp

Looks like Deion Branch is going to crank this little contract dispute he's been having with the Pats up a notch. He plans to miss the start of Patriots training camp, and will not be joining the team until the contract issue is resolved.

As a fan, if there's one thing thing I don't like, about sports in general, not just The Patriots, it's reading about squabbles over contracts and money.

Branch is going to try and play a little hard-ball with The Pats. Fine (pun intended). The Patriots don't generally cave in to this kind of tactic, but Branch does have the team at a bit of a disadvantage here. The Patriots don't have an especially potent group of receivers at the moment. Yes, they have rookie Chad Jackson, but to me, he does not count as a known quantity yet. Jackson has shown there is a lot of potential there, but he has yet to play a down of actual NFL football. Bethel Johnson had a lot of potential too...

The bottom line is, the Pats are thin at receiver and are going to need Branch to play this year. The team could take the stubborn route and continue on without him, and I would not put it past them to do so, but hopefully this contract issue will get worked out quickly, a-la Richard Seymour's previous situation. I'm sure that Branch is thinking the exact same thing, 'Hey it worked for Big Sey'.

Maybe for now, The Pats will take the same approach with Branch that they did with Seymour. Throw him a bone to make him happy and get him to Camp, then work out a long term deal afterwords.

Either way, training camp is going to start on Friday, with or without Branch's presence, and with Deion holding out and rookie running back Laurence Maroney as of yet unsigned, this will open the door for other players to get some reps. I'm sure Corey Dillon will not be upset if he does not have to share time with Maroney for the first few days of camp.

Until Branch gets his new contract, I expect to hear a lot of, "I can only comment on the guys that are here," quotes from Coach Belichick, but I think both sides know that the team is better with Branch on the field, not sitting at home paying fines and getting pissed off.

Let's hope this contract talk ends quickly and we can get back to talking about what's happening on the field, not off it.

In Belichick We Trust


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