Patriots File Charge Against Jets

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The New York Sun

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — The New England Patriots have filed a tampering charge against the Jets in connection with New York’s talks with wide receiver Deion Branch.

The move was confirmed yesterday by a person within the league familiar with the situation who asked anonymity because he was not authorized to speak on the subject. On Monday, the Patriots traded Branch to Seattle for a first-round choice in next year’s draft.

The Patriots contend that they gave Branch permission to discuss only terms of a contract and not what a team would offer the Patriots in trade, according to the Boston Globe and Boston Herald. The papers said New England contends the Jets told Branch what they would offer.

The Jets were among the teams Branch or his representative spoke with after the Patriots on August 25 gave the player, who had been holding out since the start of training camp, permission to seek a trade and negotiate a contract with other clubs until Sept. 1. The Jets offered the Patriots a second-round pick for Branch, but the Patriots announced just after the 4 p.m. deadline that no trade had been consummated.

The NFL Players Association then filed two grievances against the Patriots.

One said that in allowing Branch to work out a contract with another team, the Patriots agreed they would trade him if he was comfortable with that contract and if the draft choice compensation for him “was commensurate with what has been the value of similar players,” according to union general counsel Richard Berthelsen.

The other said the Patriots didn’t bargain in good faith with Branch over an extension of his contract. He was scheduled to make $1.045 million this season, the last of the five-year contract he signed as a rookie.

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