When the New England Patriots signed free defensive tackle Alan Branch to a one-year deal in October 2014, the move was not seen as a major one for the team. After all, while the veteran was a talented player, he was also inconsistent on the field and had recently had troubles off it.
New England still took a chance on Branch and he became a vital member of the team's defensive tackle rotation towards the end of the 2014 season. After Super Bowl XLIX, Branch signed a two-year, $6.6 million extension to keep him in Foxboro through the 2016 season.
However, this was dependent on the team exercising his $400,000 contract option due on the first day if the 2016 league year, which is tomorrow. Today, the Patriots did indeed pick up the option, according to Jeff Howe:
The Patriots have exercised Alan Branch's $400,000 option bonus for 2016, so he's in town for one more year, per source.
This is definitely good news for both the player and the club. Branch stays in a stable environment and with a team that knows how to use his skill set, while the Patriots keep an important member of their rotation at the defensive tackle position.
With Malcom Brown and Dominique Easley (and maybe Akiem Hicks) as the long-term future, keeping Branch will help the short-term while offering both playmaking ability and veteran presence.