“Three years ago, you’re talking about one of the top guys in the National Football League at the safety position," coach Andy Reid said.
They also saw the player who was limited to five games in the past two seasons because of injuries. He missed most of 2013 because of a broken leg and most of last season because of a broken foot.
The Chiefs made the decision to sign Branch despite his recent injury history.
“I’ve been reassured the risk is worth the reward," general manager John Dorsey said.
The Chiefs need to be right on this one. If they are, Branch can be their starting strong safety. If not, that position could be a problem, depending on the Chiefs' plan on backup safeties.
Reid said he wasn’t certain Branch would be ready to participate when offseason practice begins in May. But he said the Chiefs are confident Branch would be ready for full participation when training camp begins in July.
Branch had a more optimistic view.
“I’m ready now," Branch said. “I’m confident I can go out there and play hard. I’ve just had freak injuries. I’ll be ready for [offseason practice].
“The way I’ve been training and the way everything is going right now, I’m still in great shape, I’m still agile, I’m still moving well. I’m going to bring all that to the table."
For assurance the Chiefs were making the right move with Branch, Reid relied on his experience while coaching the Philadelphia Eagles with a running back who missed back-to-back seasons because of injuries only to bounce back once he did return.
“I’ve gone through this with Correll Buckhalter, who blew out his ACL, came back and vs. air tears his tendon." Reid said. “Then he ends up coming back and putting together three or four really good years.
“So can it be done? Yeah. Absolutely."