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Seahawks Get Branch For 1st Round Pick

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As Justise broke in the diary section, the Seahawks were finally able to land their mitts on wide receiver Deion Branch, the MVP of Super Bowl XXXIX. Seattle gave New England their first-round pick in the 2007 draft. Hopefully that will be the 32nd overall pick. Nudge-nudge.

   
    Branch
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As of press time the Seahawks are still trying to get a deal with Branch signed and delivered. Larry DiTore of Bloomberg reports that the "likely" deal is for six years at an average of $6.5 million annually. General consensus -- including many of you fine readers -- is that the move indicates Ruskell is trying to put together a championship season now. I agree. Ruskell's been extremely aggressive since the 2006 season ended, and the Branch signing is a huge exclamation point.

I have a few reservations about trading away a first-round pick in general, but not this time, for two reasons.

(A) The last time the Seahawks traded away a #1 pick, we got some guy named Hasselbeck.

(B) Branch, though not a "marquee" player, certainly can be one. Super Bowl MVPs usually harbor that potential. Plus, despite the depreciation of his relationship with the Patriots, most reports paint Branch as an outstanding clubhouse presence, which is one of the intangibles the Seahawks were said to have lost when Hutchinson left.

My primary concern at this point is how the receiving corps will be reshuffled. My gut tells me the 1-2-3 will be Jackson-Branch-Burleson. This also felt like an insurance policy against future or nagging injuries to Jackson, and perhaps ominous news at the end of the season for Engram.

I'm also -- not so much worried, but mindful, about Branch's folding into the offensive plan. Hasselbeck likes to have some lead time to develop a relationship with new receivers, as he diligently did with Burleson this spring and summer. Learning the offense, particularly the West Coast, is always a concern as well.

I have to wonder (again, not worry) about how Branch -- who fell 2 receiving yards short of a 1,000-yard season in '05 -- will integrate into an offense with at least two other receivers who could be #1's for many teams.

Even though receivers aren't the Seahawks' Achilles heel at the moment, I think they just got a sizable upgrade. We'll have the chance to debate the cost in the next couple of months, but I gotta say I'm pretty excited. Yesterday's primal scream session against the Lions feels farther away.

Final note: The Seahawks have a two-week window on Branch, which means they don't have to release a player until he plays a game. That means we may not see him against Arizona on Sunday. But keep in mind he's known to be a quick learner.

Time will tell, of course. But I gotta say, while keeping all giddiness in check, I like this deal.

Update [2006-9-11 21:22:6 by Shrug]: Sando posts a brief history of Seattle's deals involving draft picks. Interesting list.

Update [2006-9-11 21:36:0 by Shrug]: We now have a report from John Tomase of the Boston Herald: The Patriots are planning to file complaints of tampering against the New York Jets in the matter of Branch:

The Patriots allowed Branch to negotiate with other teams during the last week of August. During that time, the sides were granted permission to discuss contract terms only. The Patriots contend the Jets told Branch about their offer of a second-round pick after putting together a six-year, $39 million contract. The Patriots believe that knowledge "poisoned the waters" and guaranteed Branch wouldn?t re-sign with the team.
In the words of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, "Meh."