Source: Pats keep Deion Branch

Updated: March 22, 2012, 3:56 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

The New England Patriots reached agreement Thursday on a one-year deal with receiver Deion Branch, a source told ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter.

Branch, who had said after the Super Bowl that he had hoped to return to the Patriots, posted this to his Twitter account shortly after the news of his new deal broke: " It's truly an honor and a blessing to be back with #Patriots next year. Can't wait to get back in the swing of things."

The Patriots have added to an already talented receiver group this offseason, reaching deals with Brandon Lloyd, Anthony Gonzalez and Donte' Stallworth. Top receiver Wes Welker received the team's franchise tag but has yet to sign the tender.

The 32-year-old Branch had 51 catches for 702 yards and five touchdowns last season as the team's No. 2 receiver. He played in 76 percent of the offensive snaps.

With the addition of Lloyd, perhaps Branch could settle in to the type of role that the Patriots probably envisioned when Chad 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.

Earlier Thursday, owner Robert Kraft said he hoped Branch would return to the team.

"I truly hope that Deion Branch remains with the team. I mean he's also one of my favorite guys. I was sorry to see him leave (when he was traded in 2006)."

ESPNBoston.com's Mike Rodak contributed to this report.

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