Earlier this month, ESPN NFL analyst Cris Carter raised some eyebrows by criticizing Patriots receiver Deion Branch, saying he “disappears too much against regular corners” and is “just a guy.”
Carter clarified those comments on Wednesday morning on Boston sports radio station WEEI, explaining what he meant when talking about Branch. He blames injuries and a bad fit in Seattle as the main reasons why Branch’s game went south and thinks he’s been a different player since arriving in New England.
“In my grading, the player is going to be higher if he can be consistent and he can be healthy,” Carter explained. “Deion’s biggest problem is he hasn’t been able to be healthy [over his career]. Now he’s in a perfect system [in New England].
“In free agency, what happens is guys go for the money and they end up in situations that aren’t conducive for them. And they get with a coach who wants, $7-8 million productivity out of a guy doesn’t necessarily fit the skill set that he needs. Then you get injured, you get in a rut. And you lose 3-4 years of your career before you know it.
“Deion is a very good route runner. Exceptional quickness. He just hasn’t been able to stay healthy. Being able to come back to New England I believe salvaged his career, but this is not the same player that was in Seattle in Weeks 1 and 2 and not the same player that’s been in Seatlle the last couple of years. Now was that player inside of him? Absolutely.
“Do you think that Seattle, if they thought he could provide that type of explosion to the offense, do you think they would have let him go?”
Carter was also asked specifically what he meant when he said Branch “disappears.”
“I said disappeared in the game, during the game,” Carter said. “Either your team wins or loses. At the end of the game, what did that guy do? Did he have a positive impact on the game or did he blend into the game and disappear?”
Carter also talked about former Patriots receiver Randy Moss (whom he mentored when the two were together in Minnesota), saying Moss was “full of regret” for forcing his way out of New England and that “bad video” of Moss could come back to haunt him in free agency.
“Bad effort. Bad video,” Carter said. “That’s how we evaluate talent in the NFL, we watch the video. And we analyze it on what we see.
“Even me analyzing Deion, it’s just not based on what he’s doing in New England. It’s easy to say Deion at 31 is having the year of his career. It is, it’s easy to see that.”