FOXBOROUGH — Of Tom Brady’s now 13 NFL seasons, Deion Branch has been catching passes from him for six of them. So it was hard for the quarterback to not see Branch make the team, a casualty of training camp cuts.
On Wednesday, the duo were officially reunited with Branch re-signing with the team. The Patriots also signed veteran tight end Kellen Winslow and linebacker Niko Koutouvides. The Patriots released WR Greg Salas, FB Lex Hilliard, and LB Mike Rivera to make room for the three.
But Branch returns to a different dynamic with the Patriots. Julian Edelman and Brandon Lloyd have emerged as the top two wide receivers, with Wes Welker filling the vacuum of targets for the injured tight end Aaron Hernandez. Branch’s role will certainly be different now, compared to what it was last year when he caught 51 passes for 702 yards and five touchdowns.
“Deion has just been a great player here for a long time,” Brady said of Branch’s impending role. “So it’s always great to see him back. I was hoping it would happen. There’s just a lot of stability that, you know, he’s that kind of player: dependable, consistent. We’ll see what kind of role he plays.”
Brady was also asked about how Edelman has become a bigger part of the offense and whether or not his hard work has been lost with the speculation around Welker’s prominence in the offense.
“He’s really worked hard and put himself in position to get opportunities,” Brady said. “I have a lot of confidence in Julian and his ability to make some really key plays for us last game. Along with Gronk, along with Wes, and along with Brandon, it’s really the skill guys that are out there that have opportunities to catch the ball and are playing, they need to be able to make those plays. And all those guys who are out there are doing a good job of that.”
Brady said he didn’t know if Edelman’s hard work was being diminished or not.
“That’s what you guys talk about,” he said. “And certainly not what I think about. I gotta focus on being a good quarterback and doing my job. I’ll let you guys write the stories.”