Why players return to the Patriots, according to WR Deion Branch

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Henry McKenna
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The New England Patriots have never been afraid to let players depart in free agency. It’s a common theme for coach Bill Belichick, who is generally more interested in setting up players for a pay day by helping maximize their production, rather than granting that massive raise.

But if players don’t meet their billing in their next destination, the Patriots coach is quick to take some back. This year, he’s got an impressive class of returners: tackle Trent Brown (trade), linebacker Kyle Van Noy (free agency) and interior offensive lineman Ted Karras (free agency).

Deion Branch, a player who left New England in 2005 only to return for 2010, explained why it’s so common for players to come back.

“For me personally, being injected into that program, it fits me,” Branch told the Boston Herald’s Karen Guregian. “I’m always about being a team player, and that’s what they focus on. If you’re selfish, that place isn’t for you. If it’s all about the team, then that’s the place for you. If you have any ‘I’ in your heart, that’s not the place for you.

“If you want to be a part of some sort of team camaraderie, where you put everyone else’s feelings and emotions before yourself, you’ll succeed in that building, in that organization … that’s the bigger picture.”

The Patriots’ list of returners is a long one: defensive lineman Andre Carter, running backs Brandon Bolden, LeGarrette Blount and Tebucky Jones, tight ends Martellus Bennett and Benjamin Watson, Safety Patrick Chung, linebackers Tully Banta-Cain and Jamie Collins, quarterback Doug Flutie and cornerback Otis Smith. Surely, the list will get longer in future years, so long as Belichick stays in coaching.