Wide receiver Deion Branch, an important part of two Super Bowl championships with the New England Patriots, was released by the club Saturday among a flurry of roster moves.
Branch, the Most Valuable Player of New England's win over the Philadelphia Eagles in Super Bowl XXXVIII that capped the 2004 season, had been re-signed for a third tour of duty with the Pats on Sept. 18. The veteran wideout had been used sparingly in seven games since re-joining the team, though he did record a season-best four catches for 30 yards in last week's 37-31 victory over Buffalo.
The 33-year-old originally joined the Pats as a second-round draft choice in 2002 and spent four seasons with the team before being traded to Seattle in 2006.
Branch was re-acquired from the Seahawks during the 2010 season and compiled 48 catches for 706 yards and five touchdowns in 11 games. He started 15 times for the AFC champion Patriots last year and totaled 51 receptions for 702 yards and five scores.
The 11-year-pro had just nine catches for 80 yards this season, however.
Branch's roster spot was taken by fellow wide receiver Greg Salas, signed off New England's practice squad on Saturday.
A fourth-round selection of St. Louis in the 2011 draft, Salas had 27 receptions for 269 yards as a rookie with the Rams. The Hawaii product was traded to New England for an undisclosed draft choice on Sept. 1, but was waived by the Pats at final cuts and subsequently landed on the practice squad.
The Patriots also reinstated cornerback Aqib Talib to the active roster in advance of Sunday's matchup with Indianapolis. The former first-round pick just finished serving a four-game suspension for violating the NFL's policy on performance-enhancing substances.
Talib will be making his New England debut against the Colts, having been acquired in a trade with Tampa Bay on Nov. 1. The 26-year-old had spent the first four-plus seasons of his pro career with the Buccaneers prior to the deal.
To make room for Talib, the Patriots released defensive back Malcolm Williams.