Branch return to Seattle is a business trip


Branch return to Seattle is a business trip

FOXBORO -- Every week you're going to read some NFL version of a Wayward, Forgotten, Cast-Out or Prodigal Son story. There are more than 1,600 players dispersed over 32 teams, and just when you think guys are settled into their respective places the whole thing gets picked up and shook like a snow globe.
This Sunday Deion Branch returns to Seattle.
Branch landed with the Seahawks in 2005 after playing his first four seasons in New England. Contract extension talks with the Patriots got ugly and went unresolved, so he took off. The receiver played three and a half seasons in Seattle before being traded back to the Patriots.
An old tale with a twist.
Will Branch be reminiscing about his old team at all? Of course. But he knows his isn't a special case.
"I know I will. That stuff happens," he told reporters Wednesday. "I think that happens with every individual who plays the game."
Branch has been through this before, in a way.
The Patriots, with Matt Cassel at the helm, visited Seattle in 2008. It was a back-and-forth battle and Branch shined for the Seahawks. He caught four passes (88 yards), including two different go-ahead touchdowns.
New England prevailed despite the best efforts of its former receiver, however.
Just ask Branch what he remembers.
"The loss," he smiled ruefully. "Not the game that I had. I think just overall the loss."
Which is exactly the attitude he'll have this weekend. Branch was asked if he'll have any special feelings regarding the return trip and he set the record straight easily enough.
"Hopefully we go out there and get a victory. That's the most important feeling that I need to have, and that's what I have," he said.
"It's always good to go back and see some of the other guys. But when the whistle blows it's time to play the game. All that other stuff goes out the window."

Mike Giardi: Don’t think Patriots will use franchise tag on Dont'a Hightower

Mike Giardi: Don’t think Patriots will use franchise tag on Dont'a Hightower

Mike Giardi discusses the odds that the New England Patriots franchise tag Dont'a Hightower and what he expects the Pats to get if they were to trade Jimmy Garoppolo.

Arizona Cardinals place franchise tag on Chandler Jones


Arizona Cardinals place franchise tag on Chandler Jones

PHOENIX - The Arizona Cardinals, in an anticipated move, have placed a non-exclusive franchise tag on outside linebacker Chandler Jones after failing to reach a long-term deal with the player.

The non-exclusive tag allows the Cardinals to continue negotiating with Jones through July 15. If another team makes him an offer, Arizona can either match it or receive two first-round draft picks.

It's unlikely that any team would express interest in Jones, however, given what it would cost.

Under the franchise tag, Jones would receive about $15 million for the coming season.

Acquired in a trade with New England a year ago, Jones had 11 sacks, four forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries and 15 tackles for loss last season

Jones has 25 1-2 sacks over the past two seasons, third-most in the NFL over that span.

The Cardinals' move came two days before the NFL deadline for making franchise designations.

It also came on Jones' 27th birthday, prompting teammate David Johnson to tweet "Happy BDay to `The Man,' `Mr. Franchise' himself.....The one and only."

The franchise tag move came as no surprise.

Club President Michael Bidwill has stated all along that Jones would not be going anywhere, that the team didn't make the trade - sending guard Jonathan Cooper and a second-round draft pick to New England - to keep him just for one season.

"We're not going to mess around with that," Bidwill said in a recent interview on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM. "He's a great pass rusher, but if we can't agree to terms that work for us, we're just going to franchise him, and his people know that."

Jones immediately upgraded what had been an average Cardinals pass rush at best. His fellow outside linebacker Markus Golden had 12 1-2 sacks and seven tackles for loss. Together they form one of the better outside pass rush combinations in the NFL.

By all accounts, the contract talks with Jones have been cordial and Jones has said he wants to stay in Arizona.

"I love it here," he said near the end of last season. "I love the vibe that the people give off and I can see myself being here for a long time."

Chandler heads a long list of free agents that the Cardinals must either re-sign or let go. That group includes starters defensive tackle Calais Campbell, safety Tony Jefferson and inside linebacker Kevin Minter.