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Old 06-13-2006   #1
Avenged Sevenfold Texan
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Default Patriots' top receiver Branch not at mandatory camp

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Apparently unhappy with his contract status, and at the pace of negotiations aimed at completing a long-term extension, New England Patriots wide receiver Deion Branch was a no-show on Tuesday as the team began a mandatory minicamp and plans to skip the entire three-day event.

The team's leading receiver in 2005, and the most valuable player in New England's Super Bowl XXXIX victory, Branch is entering the final season of the original five-year contract he signed as a rookie in 2002. He is scheduled to earn a base salary of $1.045 million in 2006.

"I'm not going to talk about anybody who's not here," coach Bill Belichick said.

There have been discussions in the offseason about an extension, and New England officials have indicated that signing Branch to a new deal before he becomes eligible for unrestricted free agency after this season is a priority, but the two sides are not close to an agreement.
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