Branch can now write off the fines like a large phone bill after
signing a $39 million, six-year contract with the Seattle Seahawks
''I was losing a lot of money,'' Branch said.
Branch will receive $13 million in a bonus and other guarantees,
according to a person in the league close to the negotiations who
requested anonymity because the terms had not yet been announced.
About $23 million is due to Branch over the first three years of
the deal, likely making him a fixture in Seattle's currently
crowded passing game.
Agent Jason Chayut said that Seattle's deal, which came one day
after Branch was traded to the Seahawks for a 2007 first-round
draft choice, trumped a strong offer from the New York Jets.
The former Super Bowl MVP had been scheduled to make $1.045
million in the final year of his Patriots contract.
He missed the entire preseason and the Patriots' season opener
on Sunday -- at a price of $14,000 per day -- before he was traded on
Day 45 of his holdout.
The 27-year-old signed the Seahawks contract after he, his
fiancee and 19-month-old daughter arrived in Seattle for the first
time in Branch's life on Monday night.
"I'm happy it's over. I'm ready for some football."
-- Branch on resolving his contract dispute
Hasselbeck has already given Branch some plays to study in coach
Mike Holmgren's intricate West Coast offense.
''I'm excited to be a part of being something that Seattle has
going right now,'' Branch said. ''I hope everyone is not looking at
me like, 'Hey, this guy is the next thing that's going to be
''I'm just here to contribute to a major role ... I'm just a
piece to the puzzle.''
All summer, Branch has been just plain puzzled. He acknowledged
that he was worried about what might become of his season and life
beyond 2006 -- all while a $14,000-per-day meter was running.
''At first, I was very shaken, because I didn't know what was
going to happen,'' Branch said.
''The Patriots did what was best for their organization. And I
had to do what was best for me.''
Chayut said the NFL Players Association has dropped the
grievance it filed over Branch's holdout as a result of the
Seahawks contract. But the Patriots filed a tampering charge
against the Jets on Tuesday.
On Aug. 25, the Patriots gave Branch permission to negotiate a
contract with other teams and seek a trade until Sept. 1. The union
filed a grievance on behalf of Branch after the Patriots did not
trade him by the team-imposed deadline.
Chayut also said he wasn't sure if Branch will actually have to
pay his Patriots fines.
''This is all coming down the pike,'' from the NFL, Chayut said.
Seattle currently has ample salary cap space. And if defending
their NFC championship this season goes as planned, the Seahawks
will own a pick late in the first round of next April's draft.
On Monday, general manager Tim Ruskell called Branch ''a known
commodity'' and said ''the first round can be a crap shoot.''
Branch said he was ''shocked'' at the trade, which was completed
within hours on Monday. On Sunday, he was sitting at his home with
his daughter feeling ''weird'' while watching his suddenly former
teammates beat Buffalo on television.
He said he was prepared to hold out 10 games and then play in
the final six of the regular season under his old Patriots
contract. Six games is the minimum needed to get credit for a
season toward free agency.
''Oh, yeah. That was going to happen,'' Branch said with a wry
Instead, he essentially forced his way into free agency seven
''I wouldn't wish that on anyone,'' Branch said of the holdout.
''But I had to remember my purposes.''
Those purposes were wearing sun dresses out in the hallway as
Branch was speaking.
He thanked Patriots owner Robert Kraft, coach Bill Belichick,
vice president of player personnel Scott Pioli, the New England
organization and Patriots fans for ''drafting me and giving me the
opportunity to be the player that I excel to be.''
As for his former teammates, who on Monday voiced their sadness
over him leaving, Branch said glumly, ''I'm going to miss those
The Seahawks have a two-week roster exemption for Branch to get
acclimated. Branch -- who said he is in top physical shape ''because
I had nothing else to do'' -- will be at practice on Wednesday, but
Holmgren said he did not know when the receiver would make his
Seattle game debut.
''I'm happy it's over,'' Branch said, obviously relieved. ''I'm
ready for some football.''