Seahawks will not activate Branch for Sunday

Updated: September 17, 2006, 3:59 PM ET
Associated Press

KIRKLAND, Wash. -- Deion Branch will not make his Seattle Seahawks debut Sunday against the Arizona Cardinals, after all.

Report: Pats' move backfired
The New England Patriots were willing to agree with Deion Branch on a contract offer, but a stipulation that Branch fire his agents backfired, according to a report in Sunday's editions of Newsday.

The newspaper, which cited two unidentified sources close to the situation, reported that a high-profile Patriots player called Branch a few days before the season opened with the news.

But sources told Newsday the stipulation that Branch fire his agents only made the player more determined to leave New England.

Newsday reported that Branch most wanted to play for the New York Jets, but the Patriots were unwilling to trade him to a division rival. That left Seattle, which landed Branch by giving up a first-round draft pick.

-- news services

The NFL has given the Seahawks a two-week roster exemption for the former Super Bowl MVP, acquired Monday from the New England Patriots in a trade that ended Branch's 45-day contract holdout. Seattle would have had to release a player from its 53-man roster by Saturday afternoon in order to add Branch for Sunday's game.

A Seahawks team spokesman confirmed they did not.

That means Seattle's wide receivers will again be Darrell Jackson, Nate Burleson, Bobby Engram and D.J. Hackett.

Branch -- who Wednesday signed a $39 million, six-year contract with a $13 million in guarantees -- said Friday he would understand if coach Mike Holmgren decided not to play him after just three days of practice and a crash course of learning the coach's intricate playbook. Until this week, the speedy receiver had not practiced since the week of the Patriots' playoff loss at Denver on Jan. 14.

"I'm still antsy .... but these guys don't have time to wait for me to break the huddle because I'm trying to think about the play call," Branch said Friday.

"If he says I'm down, I'll prepare to be ready for next week," a Sept. 24 game against the New York Giants.

Holmgren said Wednesday it was unlikely Branch would play against the Cardinals. Then Friday, after Branch impressed the entire team in another practice, Holmgren said: "I think it's a little unrealistic for anybody to come in with a couple days of practice and play after he hasn't in a long time.

"But he's a special kid."

Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press