John Schneider is most known for the amount of moves he has made thus far as Seahawks GM. The trade he completed last night for Deion Branch deserves recognition for the sheer quality of it. Acquiring a 4th round draft choice for a 31-year-old player who tops out at 50 receptions and has been injured in 3 of the past 4 seasons is nothing short of extraordinary. There was certainly some luck that played into it, as the team that needed him had seen his best years and has an abundance of draft choices in 2011. I'm not sure New England surrenders a 4th rounder if either of those factors did not exist.
Branch will go down as one of the worst trades in Seahawks history. He was acquired for a 1st round pick, and paid like a #1 receiver in his prime. He produced like a broken down #3 receiver. His most remarkable play during his Seahawks career was not even on offense. It was chasing down a Chief defender after a fumble recovery and stripping him of the ball.
A 4th round draft choice may not seem like much to celebrate about, but consider this player comparison:
Receiver A is also a 7-time Pro Bowler, while Receiver B has never made one. Receiver A was acquired last week for a 3rd round draft choice. Do you really think the difference between Randy Moss and Deion Branch is a single round in the draft? Branch is half the receiver Moss is many statistics, yet Schneider got almost equivalent value in return for Branch. That is a fantastic trade.
The deal works out to Branch for Marshawn Lynch. Any Seahawks fan that wouldn't make that trade is absolutely bonkers. Recouping a pick in the 4th round is not critical so we can make a selection at that time in the draft. Yes, the Seahawks drafted quality like Walter Thurmond and EJ Wilson in the 4th round in 2010, but the real value is being able to package that selection if needed to move up and get the QB we desperately need to acquire in 2011.
Most reporters are expecting Brandon Stokley to take Branch's starting role. Don't be surprised if Golden Tate or Deon Butler ascend to that spot. Stokley has never been that starting flanker type of player. He's a great 3rd down slot guy, but he offers little on the outside. My guess is we'll see Golden Tate start. He is the eventual starter there anyway. What people fail to realize is that Stokley is an upgrade over Branch in the slot. He showed more chemistry with Hasselbeck in one game than Branch did in four seasons. Tate will be raw as a starter, and have some head-slapping moments, but he will also challenge defenses in ways Branch never could. The Seahawks are now less predictable. That means both the negative side of being less reliable and the positive of being more dynamic. That's exactly where a rebuilding team needs to be.