Even though the Patriots have signed Brandon Lloyd and Donte’ Stallworth in the last week, it always seemed there would be room for Deion Branch.
Thursday, the 32-year-old wide receiver agreed to a one-year deal to remain with the team - and the quarterback - with which he’s enjoyed his greatest success.
Branch took to his Twitter account to share his thoughts: “It’s truly an honor and a blessing with [the] Patriots next year. Can’t wait to get back in the swing of things.’’
Last season - his first full one back in New England - Branch played in 15 games and was fourth on the team with 51 receptions, good for 702 yards and five touchdowns; he added eight more catches in the playoffs.
A second-round draft pick of the Patriots in 2002, Branch is heading into his seventh season in New England.
Earlier Thursday, before the news came that Branch had re-signed, Patriots owner Robert Kraft spoke fondly of the 5-foot-9-inch Louisville product at a team charity event.
“I truly hope that Deion Branch remains with the team. He’s been one of my favorite guys,’’ Kraft said. “I was sorry to see him leave [in 2006].’’
After a contract dispute led to Branch holding out of training camp in 2006, the Patriots traded the savvy receiver - the rare young pass-catcher to pick up the New England offense and build a quick rapport with Tom Brady - to Seattle in exchange for a first-round pick in 2007.
The Patriots turned that pick into Jerod Mayo.
Things didn’t go as well elsewhere for Branch. His first season with the Seahawks, when he had 53 catches for 725 yards in 14 games, was his best.
In 2010, when the Patriots traded Randy Moss to Minnesota, they got Branch back.
Larsen lands contract
The Patriots signed versatile Spencer Larsen to a two-year deal Thursday, according to a league source. Larsen, 28, was a sixth-round draft pick of the Broncos in 2008 out of Arizona, where he played linebacker and was a teammate of tight end Rob Gronkowski.
Listed at 6-2, 243 pounds, Larsen comes to New England as a multi-position player: last season he recorded five tackles as a linebacker, but also played fullback, with nine receptions for 76 yards and 14 carries for 44 yards.
Running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis, who completed a multiyear contract with Cincinnati, posted a three-tweet thank you to the Patriots organization, coaching staff, and fans on his Twitter page Thursday evening: “Pats Nation: First, I would like to thank Mr. Kraft and his family for giving me an opportunity to live my dream./Many thanks to Coach Belichick and all the other coaches who help develop me in my career in New England/How many ways can I thank my dedicated fans for your heart felt love and support -THANK YOU. Its been a blessing to be a Patriot. #MHK.’’
“#MHK’’ is for the late Myra Hiatt Kraft. Green-Ellis has said he learned a great deal about philanthropy and giving back from the Krafts, and every touchdown he scored last season, he touched the MHK patch on his jersey and pointed skyward.