Yesterday, the Seattle Seahawks traded wide receiver Deion Branch to the New England Patriots for a fourth-round pick. Not a conditional late-round pick or garbage compensation, but a fourth-round pick.
What a coup for General Manager John Schneider and Seattle’s front office.
When the Deion Branch-to-New England rumors first started, it was assumed Seattle would receive no more than a late-round pick in any trade. Considering Randy Moss was just acquired by the Minnesota Vikings for a third-round pick, anything more than a sixth- or seventh-round pick would be ludicrous; Moss dwarves Branch in career accomplishments, late-career potential, physical size, overall skills.
Seattle’s incentive to trade Branch was to get the younger receivers more opportunity to play. Branch hasn’t been dominating or overly effective, so his exit only means players like Deon Butler and Golden Tate will receive additional opportunities on the field.
Like Houshmandzadeh’s departure, this deal is like addition by subtraction for the Seahawks.
In any trade for Deion Branch, it was obvious Seattle was going to try and recoup third- and fourth-round picks lost when the team acquired Charlie Whitehurst and Marshawn Lynch in separate deals.
When the rumors first started, a fourth-round pick or higher seemed ridiculous. The best the team could possibly hope for would be a conditional late-round pick that could become a fourth- or fifth-round pick based on player performance.
To obtain a fourth-round pick, it was assumed the Seahawks would undoubtedly need to include one of their own late-round picks with Deion Branch to make any deal attractive.
Instead, Seattle waited for a deal they wanted, in no rush to move Deion Branch without adequate compensation. When New England cooled on Branch, it was reported that the Seahawks were reaching out to other potential trading partners.
The Seattle Seahawks and John Schneider played this scenario like a genius.
The fourth-round pick won’t compensate for the first-round pick lost several years ago when Seattle acquired Branch, but these are separate deals. They cannot be compared with each other; Seattle probably overpaid to add a proven receiver to a competing playoff team, and New England slightly overpaid for much-needed veteran leadership and depth at the position.
I wish Deion Branch the best of luck in New England. In Seattle, he was often the recipient of harsh criticism – some warranted, some not.
In Seattle, he rarely impressed in the box score and never dominated opposing players, but Branch had never done that in his career prior to arriving in the Northwest.
In New England, he never started sixteen games in one season or compiled 1,000 receiving yards. He never caught double-digit touchdowns or over 100 passes in a single season. But he was a proven winner, excelled when games mattered most, and was a decent acquisition for the Seahawks when they were a real competitor in the NFC every season.
Markets change. Value changes. Players depreciate as they get older, just like any other asset. Seattle wasn’t going to get a first-round pick or anything close in return for Deion Branch. They did get a fourth-round pick, however, and kudos to John Schneider and the front office for pulling off such a magnificent deal for a franchise desperately needing draft stock.
Even though they’re separate deals, I suppose one could say the Seahawks swapped Deion Branch in exchange for running back Marshawn Lynch (both acquired for fourth-round picks). Lynch is only 24 years old and a former first-round pick – drafted the same year Branch was traded to Seattle.
Of course, you should never compare separate deals. But if wounds from 2007 have yet to heal, feel free to pretend the Seahawks never acquired Deion Branch and drafted Marshawn Lynch.