Deion Branch Arbitration
Deion Branch is still holding out and it is starting to bug me that he's not in Patriot's training camp yet. It has gotten to the point where I have decided to take it upon myself to arbitrate the issues that seem to be separating the two sides.Issue One - the 5-year Rookie Deal
: Deion wants a new contract. He thinks it was unfair that the Patriots signed him to a 5-year rookie deal when most other players only got 4-year deals. Now that Deion is playing at elite levels he wants to be paid like an elite player.
The Patriots say that nobody held a gun to Branch's head when he signed that contract. It was Branch's decision to go with the player representation that had him signing a 5-year deal with the Patriots. Branch picked his agent and Branch signed a 5-year deal. Bottom line - Branch is under contract for 2006.Arbiter's decision - Patriots
: Has it gotten to the point that you not only can't take someone at their word but even binding contracts mean nothing? Branch can decide to not play for the Patriots but that will also be a decision to not play in the NFL anytime soon as far as the arbiter is concerned.Issue Two - the Franchise Tag
: Branch doesn't want to get hit with the franchise tag next season and wants the Patriots to promise that they won't use it on him.
Patriots - so you want us to promise you something when your name signed on the dotted line of a contract isn't even enough for you to keep your word? Arbiter's Decision - Patriots
: When you look at the franchise tag you find three things of interest:
1. It means that the player gets paid the average of the top 5 paid players at the same position for a one year deal.
2. It means the team gets compensation (normally 1 or 2 first round draft picks) if the player signs with another team.
3. The franchise tag was something agreed to under the collective bargaining agreement. It is part of the rules of engagement (so to speak).
It is very arguable that Deion Branch is not among the top 5 receivers in the game (and this is coming from a Patriots fan). It should also be noted that when Deion tried to arrange a trade - the best compensation he came up with for the Patriots was a 2nd round pick. Why would the Patriots settle for a 2nd round pick when they can use the franchise tag to get at least one number one?Issue Three - Deion trade grievance
: Deion said the Patriots gave him permission to make a deal with another team. Both the Jets and Seahawks had deals for him but the Patriots renegged.
Patriots - we never said we were going to give him away. Getting just a 2nd round pick in exchange is not a good deal for the Patriots.Arbiter's Decision - Patriots
: Branch wants a multi-year deal that will pay him as one of the top players but he expects the Patriots to get just a second round pick in exchange if he's traded? Deion - if you think you are worth that much money than you are also worth at least a first round pick in exchange.
Missing this much of training camp (essentially the entire camp) will make it very difficult for Branch to pick up another team's system. As it is - the conditioning factor will make it difficult for Branch to even help the Patriots much for the first 4 or so games.
Deion Branch needs to get back into camp because he's not doing himself or his team or his future earnings potential any favors.Arbiters decision
: Here is my way to resolve this loggerneck.
1. Branch is given 24 hours to come up with a list of teams that will trade the Patriots a 2007 first round draft pick in exchange for Branch.
2. The Patriots pick from one of those teams and trade Branch. It is then up to Branch to get a new contract from the team he was traded to.
3. If no team is willing to trade a first rounder for Branch - then the Patriots take the fine money from Branch's holdout and use it to purchase an insurance policy for the amount of $20 million in case Branch suffers a career ending injury this year (the fines and the premium should about balance out). Branch plays the 2007 season at his signed contract rate but has the peace of mind of knowing he is covered if he gets hurt.