Playing armchair general manager

October, 20, 2009
10/20/09
6:24
AM ET

Tuesday at 4 p.m. EST is the trading deadline for the 2009 NFL season.

Speaking on his regularly scheduled appearance on sports radio WEEI's "Big Show" on Monday, head coach Bill Belichick said that he would be surprised if the Patriots made a deal.

Last week, Belichick explained two reasons why he felt there weren't more trades at the deadline:

1. Teams are usually reluctant to part with depth, or simply don't have depth, in a sport with a high rate of injuries. The timing of the deadline, just six weeks into the season, is also a factor when it comes to depth.

2. Because every team runs a different system, the learning curve of teaching an acquired player the system makes it less desirable to swing a trade.

From a pure media speculation standpoint, it makes sense to think that Seahawks receiver Deion Branch is one player the Patriots would at least inquire about.

Branch is Seattle's No. 3a/3b target, so the Seahawks -- who are struggling and might consider trading with the future in mind -- currently have depth at the position. Branch knows the Patriots' system, so that would shorten any big learning curve at a position where the Patriots haven't had a No. 3 target emerge alongside Randy Moss and Wes Welker.

As Patriots director of player personnel Nick Caserio said Monday, there are a lot of moving parts involving potential trades, from compensation to the trade partner and contract considerations to the player. In the case of Branch, if the Patriots were to acquire him, they would probably want to restructure his contract and have some considerations should his previously injured knee become an issue.

The trade deadline fuels plenty of speculation, and the possibility of a Branch-Patriots reunion is just that -- speculation.

But for one day, it's fun to think of the possibilities and play the role of armchair general manager.

Mike Reiss

ESPN New England Patriots reporter

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