by Chris Warner, Patriots Daily Staff

Okay, stay with us. In 2006, receiver Deion Branch sat out the beginning of the season in an attempt to work out a bigger, better contract. The Patriots tried to make do with Reche Caldwell and Doug Gabriel, adding Jabar Gaffney midway through the season. After a superhuman effort from Tom Brady, that team fell a minute short of winning the AFC Championship.

In 2007, Coach Bill Belichick made a concerted effort to make it up to Brady, getting Randy Moss and Wes Welker. This led to the greatest offense in NFL history and one of the biggest upsets in that year’s Super Bowl when the defense failed to hold a four-point lead in the final minutes.

Since Branch’s holdout the Patriots have evolved into the type of squad that has to outscore opponents because they cannot stop them. Though the passing proficiency has proven entertaining at times, it has failed to garner overall success. When thinking of Super Bowls, these names come to mind: David Patten, David Givens, Troy Brown and Branch. Not a Hall of Famer in the Bunch, but plenty of fat rings to go around.

Sunday’s collapse vs. Baltimore was about as much fun to watch as a vasectomy, largely because New England lost sight of what made them great five years ago (for clarification, see: 2009 Ravens and Jets). Therefore, Deion Branch, for breaking your contract and eventually coaxing the Patriots into taking the wrong path, you can take the final lap of the ill-fated 2009 season.

And, hey, if you want to come back to Foxboro, that’s cool, too.

Email Chris Warner at chris.warner@patriotsdaily.com