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Alan Branch's Contract Option Bonus Reportedly Picked Up by Patriots

FOXBORO, MA - JANUARY 16: Alan Branch #97 of the New England Patriots reacts after a play in the second half against the Kansas City Chiefs during the AFC Divisional Playoff Game at Gillette Stadium on January 16, 2016 in Foxboro, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Elsa/Getty Images
Joseph ZuckerFeatured ColumnistMarch 8, 2016

The New England Patriots will pick up the 2016 option for defensive tackle Alan Branch, per ESPN.com's Mike Reiss. As a result, Branch will be owed a $400,000 bonus for next season.

The Boston Globe's Ben Volin noted the particulars regarding his salary for next year:

Branch appeared in every game for the Patriots last year, recording 35 combined tackles and one sack.

The 31-year-old will be entering his third season in New England after arriving from the Buffalo Bills. He has spent nine years in the NFL after the Arizona Cardinals selected him in the second round of the 2007 draft.

Keeping Branch around for at least one more year makes sense for the Patriots. His salary—even if he qualifies for all of his incentives—won't be exorbitant for the team. In addition, he remains a productive presence on the defensive line, especially against the run.

Reiss believes Branch will prove a valuable asset in 2016:

The other concern for New England is the fact the team lacks the proven talent at defensive tackle that could've replaced Branch if he left. Dominique Easley has missed five games in each of the last two years, while Ishmaa'ily Kitchen and Sealver Siliga have yet to take on a starting role for an entire season.

Branch can be a stopgap at defensive tackle. In a year's time, one of Easley, Kitchen or Siliga could prove worthy of a larger role in the defense, or the Patriots could opt to find a long-term solution at the position.

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