Over a year-and-a-half removed from being named MVP of the Super Bowl and after a near-1,000 yard season, he was brought into Seattle to help the lackluster receiving corps. However, all Deion Branch has done since joining the Seahawks is miss games and, when he has been able to play, underperform.
Seattle shipped a first-round draft choice to New England for the veteran wideout from Louisville, but now it’s time the Seahawks start seriously considering cutting their losses.
In Branch’s first three seasons in the Emerald City, he’s missed a total of 13 games. The 2009 season is only a week old, but he’s already added onto that total by missing Seattle’s win against the St. Louis Rams. When he returns this year to game-day action could be up for debate due to his nagging hamstring injury.
Consequently, Branch has seen a decrease in his statistical output.
In 2007, he started the season’s opener against Tampa Bay, but did not record a single catch. He would do this two other times that season, both times coming in the team’s two playoff games when the team needed their starting wide receivers to really step up and produce.
To pour salt on the open wound that was his under performance, he only eclipsed the century mark twice that season, both coming before Week Five. After his second 100-plus yard game of the year, Branch posted receiving yardage totals above 40 yards in only three games.
Last year proved to be both better and worse than 2007 for Branch. He improved his number of games in which he totaled over 40 receiving yards to five games, but he failed to have a single game in which he had at least 100 yards.
Also, in 2007 and 2008 combined he only managed eight receiving touchdowns.
I don’t care who you are, that is not first-round-draft-pick-caliber production.
Making things even worse is that he came into the 2009 season not even listed as a starter for the Seahawks and he will make a base salary of $4.94 million.
Unfortunately though, 2009 is just the tip of the ugly iceberg that is Branch’s remaining contract.
In 2010, he’s scheduled to make a base salary of $5.47 million.
His base salary is scheduled to continue to escalate in his final year of his current deal, as Branch is set to make $5.95 million in 2011.
That is far too much money to pay in the future, let alone this year, to an injury-prone wide receiver that no longer starts on your team.
Rookie Deon Butler has impressed many, including myself, during preseason practices and games.
I’ve said it in the past and will continue to say it, I think Butler can be something special in this league, possibly eventually getting to the level of a current Steve Smith in Carolina. Before you start an uproar and call the mental asylum on my behalf, go read about what he did while at Penn State. Watch some film and how he plays in his rookie season in the NFL, you might just find yourself thinking that Seattle found a diamond in the rough when they spent a third round selection on him in the 2009 NFL Draft.
With Butler waiting in the wings, the Seahawks might be forced to cut ties with the veteran Branch before his contract expires in hopes of obtaining some return on the team’s failed investment.
If they don’t get rid of Branch and instead keep him until his contract expires, Seattle will lose out on much-needed salary cap and roster space that it could use elsewhere, thus helping to close its own current window of winning a Super Bowl.