Patriots Sign Alan Branch

10:46am: The Pats formally announced the signing, Reiss tweets. To make room for Branch, rookie linebacker Deontae Skinner has been released. Skinner, a product of Mississippi State, was signed as a UDFA in May.

10:45am: Free agent defensive tackle Alan Branch is at Gillette Stadium today and finally he’s on the verge of joining the Patriots, according to Mike Reiss of (on Twitter). Branch is expected to practice with the team today and an official signing should be announced afterwards.

Branch and the Pats appeared to have struck agreement on a deal last week but the deal was put off until today. Branch should help to fill the void on the defensive line that was left by Chandler Jones‘ injury that will keep him out for an undetermined period of time.

The 29-year-old was released by the Bills after he was arrested for a DUI in August. Branch signed a three-year, $9.1MM extension ($3.1MM signing bonus) with Buffalo, only to see the deal terminated before the start of the 2014 season. Branch started 13 games for the Bills last season, and has started 47 during his career, racking up 112 tackles and eight sacks in total.

New England also acquired defensive end Akeem Ayers from the Titans last week to help fill the gap left by Jones.

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