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Could Deion Branch get a salary squeeze?

One of the more popular rumors/theories/globs against the wall that might or might not stick is that the Seahawks might be cutting veteran wideout Deion Branch, for whom Seattle gave up a first-round pick and a big contract three years ago.

Some think that Branch is safe, based on generic comments from coach Jim Mora indicating that he’s pleased with his four-deep lineup of T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Nate Burleson, Deion Butler, and Branch.

But here’s the catch.  Branch is scheduled to earn a base salary of $4.94 million this year.  If he’s on the Week One roster, the money is essentially guaranteed. 

So here’s how it might go down.  Branch makes the 53-man roster as of Saturday at 6:00 p.m. ET, and then the Seahawks make Branch an offer of continued employment at a dramatically reduced salary.

As it currently stands, Branch isn’t listed as a starter.  So $4.94 million is too much to pay for a backup, and that’s how they’ll explain it to Branch.

A hint that Branch will get the “take a pay cut or take a hike” ultimatum could come from the number of receivers on the roster as of Saturday night.  If the Seahawks keep only five, Branch likely is safe.  If they keep six, he might be in trouble. 

If Seattle hangs onto seven receivers, chances are they’ll eventually drop to six — and that the guy who gets dropped could be Branch.

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9 Responses to “Could Deion Branch get a salary squeeze?”
  1. volsunghawk says: Sep 2, 2009 11:12 PM

    Baseless speculation is all this is, as usual. If Seattle was desperate for cap relief, this might have a tiny grain of justification, but that’s not the case.
    And with the rash of injuries Seattle faced at the position last season (bad enough that Jordan Kent of all people was forced to play snaps at WR), the Hawks won’t be threatening to cut loose one of their better players.
    Now, it’s almost a guarantee that Branch is gone after the season, but he’ll stick until the team is sure that Deon Butler can perform in the real games.

  2. TFBuckFutter says: Sep 2, 2009 11:32 PM

    That would be hilarious if it happened….since he priced himself out of New England where he could have actually continued having a productive but not spectacular career.
    Maybe if no other team wants him, he and David Givens can start a bowling team or something. Call Reche Caldwell and Donte Stallworth. See what they are up to (Here’s a tip though, Reche will probably drop the bowling ball every other turn, and Donte will totally hog the pitcher).

  3. TFBuckFutter says: Sep 2, 2009 11:34 PM

    “volsunghawk says:
    September 2, 2009 11:12 PM
    Now, it’s almost a guarantee that Branch is gone after the season, but he’ll stick until the team is sure that Deon Butler can perform in the real games.”
    Umm….can you think of a situation where he could be less reliable than Branch?
    In fact, if current trends continue, he will only play in 5 games this year anyway (14, 11, 8 respectively since being traded).
    So yeah….I can see why you’d defend the guy.

  4. goose08 says: Sep 2, 2009 11:34 PM

    “If the Seahawks keep only five, Branch likely is safe. If they keep six, he might be in trouble. ”
    This makes no sense, Michael.

  5. Wartooth says: Sep 3, 2009 12:13 AM

    So let me get this straight volsunghawk…What you are saying is that they should keep a guy with a slinky for a knee, and pay him 5 million to be insurance in case of injury?
    So who do you keep to be insurance for him? I mean lets be real, the guy has had an ice pack on that knee after very little use this preseason. Do you really think what is left of his knee will hold up during the regular season? Really?

  6. mr_snrub says: Sep 3, 2009 1:46 AM

    The Seahawks typically carry 6 wide receivers or 5 in certain years. If Seattle keeps 5 and Branch is one of the 5 then he need not worry of being cut or being asked to redo his contract because the Seahawks will not keep only 4 wide receivers.
    If the Hawks keep 6 wide receivers including Branch then the team is still in a position to cut one of its wide receivers if it so chooses.
    So it actually does make sense.

  7. PirateFreedom says: Sep 3, 2009 11:06 AM

    Patriots parlayed Branch into a pick that went to the 49′s for the pick that was traded for Moss and the pick that got Mayo
    Randy (25td) Moss and Jerod (ROY) Mayo!
    ha Ha Ha HA !
    I’m glad Seattle gave Branch the big contract, he totally deserved it for what he did in NE.
    ha Ha Ha HA !

  8. volsunghawk says: Sep 3, 2009 11:59 AM

    “TFBuckFutter says: September 2, 2009 11:34 PM
    Umm….can you think of a situation where he could be less reliable than Branch?”
    Sure. Butler’s a rookie. He may not have the same route-running skills or ability to catch the ball in regular-season speed traffic as Branch. Those are areas where he can be served by easing him into the rotation and allowing him to adjust to the speed of an actual NFL game.
    The thing with Branch is that there were never issues with his actual performance on the field. When he was healthy, he was a playmaker. He has just proven to have an injury problem that rivals D.J. Hackett’s.
    “Wartooth says: September 3, 2009 12:13 AM
    So let me get this straight volsunghawk…What you are saying is that they should keep a guy with a slinky for a knee, and pay him 5 million to be insurance in case of injury?
    So who do you keep to be insurance for him? I mean lets be real, the guy has had an ice pack on that knee after very little use this preseason. Do you really think what is left of his knee will hold up during the regular season? Really?”
    Yes, they should absolutely keep him. I know you have a personal crusade against Branch (see your Seahawks Insider rants), but unless the team desperately needs the money, cutting him makes zero sense. Yeah, Branch is overpaid, and yeah, he wasn’t worth the 1st round pick. But for the most part, that is sunk cost. Cutting him now doesn’t get that pick back, nor does it make our WR corps better. Branch will split time with Butler, which will hopefully allow him to get through more of the season healthy (and when he’s healthy, he plays very well). But even if we’re paying Branch a ton of money to play limited snaps, I’d rather he be out there than Obomanu, Taylor, Hass, Kent, or Payne.

  9. steeler-hater says: Sep 3, 2009 12:24 PM

    Tennessee should take a look at Branch.
    They seem to be bringing in everyone else all of a sudden so why not him, too?

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