The Boston Globe's Ben Volin noted the particulars regarding his salary for next year:
Branch will make between $1.6m and $3.115m based on weight, games played and incentives. Good run stuffer last year, added a sack and 2 FF— Ben Volin (@BenVolin) March 8, 2016
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:
DT Alan Branch played well for the Patriots in 2015 as a starter alongside Malcom Brown. Big-bodied, long-armed presence on the interior.— Mike Reiss (@MikeReiss) March 8, 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.