Opinion: Branch's 1-year deal

March, 22, 2012
3/22/12
2:15
PM ET
The Patriots and receiver Deion Branch have agreed to a one-year deal, according to ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter, which represents yet another move at the position this offseason.

Brandon Lloyd ... Anthony Gonzalez ... Donte Stallworth ... now Branch.

Branch was the team's No. 2 receiver in 2011, playing 76 percent of the offensive snaps. It's unlikely the Patriots envisioned that high playing-time total for Branch, especially after acquiring Chad Ochocinco in a trade in 2011 training camp.

But when Ochocinco struggled to adapt to the new scheme, it put more on Branch's plate. In 15 games last season, Branch finished with 51 catches for 702 yards and five touchdowns.

Now, with the addition of Lloyd, perhaps the 32-year-old Branch could settle in to the type of role that the Patriots probably envisioned when Ochocinco came aboard -- as a 2b/3a type of receiver option.

Given his rapport with Tom Brady, and his knowledge of the offense, Branch still has value to the Patriots.

Meanwhile, part of the reason the Patriots were in the market for Lloyd was to have an outside presence who could pick up chunk yardage. That's not necessarily Branch's game. So if everyone is healthy, and Wes Welker is under contract, Branch looks like he could become more of a complementary weapon than the front-liner he was in 2011.

Overall, the competition at receiver should be one of the most interesting things to watch unfold in training camp.

With Chad Ochocinco set to earn $3 million in base salary in 2012, and the Patriots loading up at receiver, his spot on the roster looks shaky at best.

Mike Reiss

ESPN New England Patriots reporter

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