by Scott Benson

Boston’s best football writer, Mike Reiss, is first with the stunning news that holdout WR Deion Branch has been traded to the Seattle Seahawks for a first round draft choice, just days before arbiters were to hear two grievances filed by the former Super Bowl MVP and his agent after earlier trade talks had failed.

Stay with Mike’s blog for the latest developments in this surprising story. We’ll no doubt be back with thoughts later on.

As a matter of fact, here we are now. Don’t you guys have to work?

Bruce’s thoughts:Definitely mixed emotions on this one. His holdout not withstanding, Branch was an extremely entertaining and likable Patriot. I’ll miss seeing #83 darting around the field. His 60 yard TD catch in the AFC championship game in Pittsburgh was one of the best moments in Patriots history. He came up big in both Super Bowl victories that he played in with the Patriots. He’ll be missed.

For the team, they probably needed to make a move here. Getting a first round pick, even from a good team like Seattle is more than many people thought that they could get. The longer that this holdout went on, the uglier and more distracting things were likely to be for the Patriots. The team can now move on, and hope that Doug Gabriel and Chad Jackson can get back on the field in the coming weeks and give the Patriots the receiving threat that they lacked this Sunday against the Bills.

Seattle gets a very good player, and could also use the spark on offense, as evidenced by their lackluster 9-6 win over Detroit yesterday. We’ll see if Matt Hasselbeck is as good to Branch as Tom Brady was.

Greg’s thoughts: Mixed feelings. I am disappointed in Deion. He has not covered himself in glory throughout this saga. But I suppose he has his money now, if that is how one measures success. It’ll be interesting to follow his career and the course of his new contract. I am also disappointed the Patriots let him “shoot his way out of town” and feel he should have been made an example of.

On the plus side, I feel the value of a first round pick, assuming that is what it is, is fine and fair. I also feel the Patriots can and will win without Branch. And I feel its a plus the whole issue is now over.

Scott’s thoughts: That’s what I get for getting wrapped up in the actual games. Never saw this one coming. Not today, anyway. Initial thoughts: I guess it wasn’t so unreasonable for the Patriots to ask for a first round pick after all. However, I suspect I’ll like that part of the deal a lot more next April than I do now. It’s just hard to look to the future when there’s already a season underway. I keep hitting Reiss’s Pieces hoping for the other shoe to drop, like it will all of a sudden be updated with the line “a first round pick in the 2007 draft AND receiver Nate Burleson” or anybody else that might be able to stick an oar in the water we’re currently paddling through. So far, no luck. In any event, the whole goddam thing is regrettable, in my mind. Its not too unreasonable to ask how in the world the Patriots managed to lose their two starting receivers in about six months time while being eleventy-billion dollars under the cap. I’ll need time to think on a good answer for that one. And even though I was urging the Patriots to grind him into dust in last week’s Roundtable, the fact is I like Deion Branch. Even with all the mess that he helped to create over the last several weeks, I’m going to miss the little bastard. He was ten feet tall when it mattered most.

Yet life goes on here in New England. Bring on the Jets. And Doug Gabriel and Chad Jackson, if it’s not too much trouble.