Patriots finally sign Alan Branch, release Deonte Skinner to make room
Defensive end Alan Branch has been around the Patriots facilities for a full week now, yet he still wasn't signed.
The team finally made things official, and Branch will be practicing with the team today.
Patriots announce they've signed DL Alan Branch. LB Deontae Skinner has been released.
— Phil Perry (@PhilAPerry) October 29, 2014
A second round pick in 2007, Branch had a career year last season with the Buffalo Bills, but failed his conditioning test this August and was released by the team. Last season, Branch stood out especially against the run - which the Pats could use some help with. ProFootballFocus gave him a 5.4 grade in run defense (10th best among 3-4 defensive ends who played at least 25% of snaps) and tallied him with 28 defensive stops (tied for 11th best in the league).
At the cost of Branch comes linebacker Deonte Skinner. Skinner was pressed into a bigger role when All-Pro Jerod Mayo first went down against the Bills. However, the Pats have made several trades for linebacker depth - bringing in Akeem Ayers and Jonathan Casillas. That makes Skinner a bit expendable, though the team will likely try to slide him into the practice squad.