Deion Branch offers insight into interesting Patriots trend


Stop us if you've heard this before: Several familiar faces are returning to the New England Patriots this season.

Linebacker Kyle Van Noy, offensive tackle Trent Brown and center Ted Karras all re-signed with the Patriots this offseason after spending time elsewhere.

According to the Boston Herald's Karen Guregian, they're among 24 players who have had at least two separate stints in Foxboro, tying New England with the Pittsburgh Steelers for second-most in that category behind the Seattle Seahawks.

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So, why do so many players flock back to the Patriots after playing for other teams?

Former wide receiver Deion Branch, who played for New England from 2002 to 2005 and 2010 to 2012, shared some notable first-person perspective.

“For me personally, being injected into that program, it fits me,” Branch told 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."

While the "Patriot Way" has become a cliché, it appears Bill Belichick's team-first approach resonates with many players and draws them back to New England. It also helps that the Patriots are the most successful team of the last two decades: Branch reached three Super Bowls during his seven total seasons with the Patriots, winning two.

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It's not all about chasing rings, though: Van Noy, Brown and Karras all returned to a club that went 7-9 in their first season without Tom Brady in the Belichick era. As former defensive lineman Andre Carter explained to Guregian, players also know they can thrive individually with Belichick as their head coach.

"Bill brings back guys he trusts," Carter said. "And maybe certain players weren’t the high caliber athletes they were earlier in their careers, but Bill knows at the end of the day, he can maximize reps with these particular individuals to help win games."

That was certainly the case with Van Noy and Brown, who played the best football of their careers in New England and saw their production dip last season in Miami and Las Vegas, respectively.

Whether they can find as much success in their second stints remains to be seen, but it's a nice benefit for Belichick that he can recruit former players back to Foxboro.