FOXBOROUGH — Deion Branch was back in front of his locker — the one that was never taken down, or changed, or given to someone else — after rejoining the Patriots.
Branch, who has spent part of six seasons in New England, said he got the call from his agent on Tuesday notifying him of his new, yet familiar, professional home. The team officially made the announcement that Branch and tight end Kellen Winslow had been signed on Wednesday morning.
“I’m glad to be back and jumping right into the swing of things this week, getting prepared to play Baltimore,” Branch said, surrounded by a huge contingent of media. “You can’t assume anything in this league, but I was never worried.”
Branch admitted that a number of other NFL teams inquired about his services, but he said everybody else asking about him “just didn’t suit me.” He was one of the Patriots’ cuts on the day the final roster needed to be set following the four preseason games. Eighteen days later, he was back in uniform.
With the injury to Aaron Hernandez likely sidelining the standout tight end for a number of weeks, the Patriots turned to Branch, who has enough experience with this team that he’d be able to simply pick up where he left off.
“That’s the goal,” Branch said. “I’m sure it’s what the coaches are expecting out of me, and that’s what I’m going to deliver.”
Branch said he watched the Patriots’ season-opening win at Tennessee, and caught the second half of Sunday’s loss to Arizona. Having children around — Branch and his wife have four — puts a squeeze on any extra spare time, he said.
One of the biggest reasons he didn’t accept another team’s offer was the thought of uprooting his family. School has already started, strong friendships established. Perhaps sensing that the Patriots would eventually call for him, Branch stayed put and diligently worked out, making his sure his body was in good condition so he’d be able to hit the field running.
“Family is more important. My wife and my kids, school just started, there’s a lot of stuff going on,” Branch said. “There’s a lot of things that factor into your decision. You’ve got to make sure you have to make the right decision for your family.”