Grievance filed; Patriot receiver traded

By The Associated Press

SEATTLE – The New England Patriots ended the holdout of receiver Deion Branch on Monday by trading him to the Seattle Seahawks for a first-round draft pick.

Seahawks general manager Tim Ruskell called Branch “a known commodity,” and added that a first-round pick “can be a crapshoot.”

Branch was entering the last season of the five-year contract he signed as a rookie.

He held out of the mandatory minicamp in June and all of training camp.

He has been subject to a $14,000 fine for each day he held out from July 28, the start of training camp.

“It’s been a long process,” Patriots coach Bill Belichick said. “I think we tried hard to make it work out.”

“I think Deion tried hard. We tried. It didn’t work out and we’ve moved on,” Belichick said.

Branch was eligible for arbitration after this season, but Belichick said the prospect of a potentially contentious arbitration process was not “that big a factor” in the Patriots’ decision to trade Branch.

In the 2005 Super Bowl, Branch had 11 catches for 133 yards against Philadelphia, helping the Patriots win their third championship in four years. Last season, he caught 78 passes for 998 yards and five touchdowns, all career highs.

In four seasons, he has 213 receptions for 2,744 yards and 14 touchdowns.

Branch joins a team whose leading receiver, Darrell Jackson, missed the preseason. Jackson had not practiced until last week following his second knee surgery in four months, in February.

Jackson played far more than expected in Sunday’s 9-6 win over the Detroit Lions.

The Seahawks are close to reaching a deal on a multiyear contract with Branch.

“His representatives are flying in today,” Ruskell said. “Obviously, we wouldn’t have done this without the gist of the deal getting done.”

Seattle also has veteran Bobby Engram, former Minnesota Viking Nate Burleson and 2005 surprise D.J. Hackett in its receiving corps.

The last time the Seahawks traded their first-round pick for a veteran player was March 2, 2001, when then-general manager Holmgren traded for quarterback Matt Hasselbeck.

The Patriots are without their top two receivers from last season. David Givens signed with Tennessee as a free agent for five years and $24 million, including an $8 million signing bonus.

On Aug. 25, the Patriots gave Branch, who had been scheduled to make $1.045 million this year, permission to negotiate a contract with other teams and seek a trade until Sept. 1.

The NFL Players Association filed a grievance on behalf of Branch after the Patriots did not trade him by the team-imposed deadline.

The grievance alleged that in allowing Branch to work out a contract with another team, the Patriots agreed they would trade him if Branch was comfortable with that contract and the draft choice compensation for him “was commensurate with what has been the value of similar players,” union lawyer Richard Berthelsen said.

He said the New York Jets had offered a second-round draft pick for Branch, which Berthelsen said was of commensurate value.