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Archive for Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Seahawks trade for Branch

September 12, 2006

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— Even sore ribs couldn't contain Matt Hasselbeck's excitement over having former New England Super Bowl MVP Deion Branch to throw to as his newest Seahawks receiver.

Branch's arrival had Hasselbeck laughing Monday through ribs that hurt enough from the battering by the Detroit Lions a day earlier, he held them while jogging through a short conditioning session.

"It's going to be that much harder to defend our offense," Hasselbeck said of a unit that also has 2005 NFL MVP and rushing leader Shaun Alexander.

As happy as the Pro Bowl quarterback was, he thought of his father Don's reaction at the family home in Westwood, Mass.

"Oh, my dad loves the Patriots. If he had a fantasy draft, he'd pick Tom (Brady) over me," the younger Hasselbeck said.

Hours earlier, Seattle acquired Brady's favorite tar-get-turned-holdout for a first-round draft choice in 2007.

"We still have to figure out how to get all the people on the field," coach Mike Holmgren said, smiling. "That's the chess game for our coaches right now."

The last time the Seahawks traded their first-round pick for a veteran player was March 2, 2001, when then-general manager Holmgren traded for Hasselbeck.

While the Patriots now are without their two top receivers from last season, every Seahawks player was grinning about getting Branch. He had been entering the last season of the five-year contract he signed as a rookie, but will be getting a new, long-term deal.

"His representatives are flying in today," Seahawks general manager Tim Ruskell said. "Obviously, we wouldn't have done this without the gist of the deal getting done."

The league has given the Seahawks a two-week roster exemption for Branch to learn Holmgren's intricate offense. Branch will begin practicing this week, but Holmgren said he was unsure when Branch might make his Seattle debut.

"It's all good for us," Holmgren said.

Even members of Seattle's already crowded receiving corps thought so.

Sort of.

"I don't have no reaction," leading receiver Darrell Jackson said.

But then Jackson acknowledged the defending NFC champions are better with Branch.

"Anytime you get a player of his caliber, it makes you better," he said.

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