In one fell swoop the New England Patriots bolstered their passing attack by acquiring WR Deion Branch from the Seattle Seahawks while simultaneously sending the NFL a not-so subtle message about Brett Favre's newest toy, Randy Moss.
I learned long ago that there are no coincidences in the Patriots organization. Every move, no matter how minute, how trivial, is done for a reason. They are deliberate and meticulous, and in this case, maybe just a little spiteful.
Everybody and their mother knows what kind of talent Randy Moss brings to an offense. His departure leaves a gaping hole in the New England receiving corps. Naturally, it stands to reason that whoever steps in and takes his place will be compared to Moss. The Patriots know this.
Enter Deion Branch.
He's everything Randy Moss isn't. An undersized, shifty receiver, he has to maximize his limited talents to be productive.
Bringing him back makes sense. He's familiar with the offense, he already has Brady's trust, and perhaps most importantly he knows what it means to be a "true" Patriot.
That where the Moss comparisons come in. It seems New England went out of its way to get the anti-Moss and they themselves further encouraged the comparison when they gave Branch the same number the Minnesota Vikings gave Moss, 84.
Not a chance in H- E- double hockey sticks.
Patriot Nation is eagerly waiting for the chance to compare the two, and New England is giving them exactly what they want.
Ask the Patriots if Moss is a problem. They'll tell you he wasn't. They'll tell you how great he is as a player then insist they're better off without him. They've stonewalled the media at every turn.
Ask them about the man stepping into his shoes and sharing his jersey number? Much different story.
The Patriots are telling the world exactly how they feel about Moss by telling us how they feel about Branch.
Center Dan Koppen says "You want those type of players on your team" and that he's "a good guy to have in the locker room." With everybody wondering how Branch changes the offense as opposed to Moss, that's a pretty interesting way to phrase it.
Brady also chimed in to support the move, "He's very much the same type of player that you've seen here over the years," Brady said "The Bruschis, the Vrabels, the McGinests, the Ty Laws, those character guys that a guy like Deion is. Whenever those guys become available I'm sure that's the kind of player coach Belichick jumps at."
None of those players are with the team and all besides Bruschi were either traded or released. Law was moved in the midst of contract turmoil, just like Moss. Yet Brady chooses to use them as examples of high-character players and Moss is conspicuously absent from that list.
If Branch is the kind of player Belichick wants, Brady seems to be saying Moss is the kind of player he would rather not deal with.
That was certainly the public perception even though the team wouldn't say it at the time. Well, they're saying it now, they're just using Deion Branch to do it.
(Player quotes were taken from ESPN.com and Patriots.com)