The 2017 season will be the fourth in New England for the 32-year-old Branch, who was previously with the Cardinals, Seahawks and Bills. Branch is coming off back-to-back 16-appearance, 15-start campaigns, and the 10-year veteran tallied a career-high 49 tackles and chipped in 1.5 sacks in 2016 for the Super Bowl champions. He also ranked 25th in overall performance among Pro Football Focus’ 127 qualified interior defensive linemen.
Branch, who totaled the second-most snaps among Patriots D-linemen last season (625), is primed to serve as the starting unit’s elder statesman in 2017. The other expected No. 1s, Kony Ealy, Malcom Brown, Trey Flowers, are each 25 or younger. The Pats also have 20-something reserves in Vincent Valentine, Lawrence Guy and Geneo Grissom.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.