Jets cleared of tampering charges in talks with Branch

NEW YORK -- The Jets were cleared by the NFL on Thursday of
tampering charges filed by the New England Patriots in connection
with New York's talks with holdout wide receiver Deion Branch.

Deion Branch Branch

The Patriots had given Branch permission to discuss only terms
of a contract and not what a team would offer them in a trade.
According to several reports, New England contended New York told
Branch what it would offer, and the Patriots filed a grievance with
the league and commissioner Roger Goodell. The former Super Bowl
MVP was eventually traded to Seattle.

"We are pleased Commissioner Goodell determined that the
Patriots' tampering allegations were completely unfounded, that the
Jets' conduct did not violate league policy, and consequently, the
Patriots had no basis to claim an injury," New York said in a
statement Thursday night. "With this issue now behind us, the
Patriots and the Jets remain competitors on the field and partners
off the field, working together to advance the interests of the
league and its fans."

A call Thursday night to league spokesman Greg Aiello wasn't
immediately returned.

The Jets, who offered a second-round pick, were among the teams
Branch or his representatives spoke with after the Patriots gave
the former Super Bowl MVP permission on Aug. 25 to seek a trade and
negotiate a contract with other clubs until Sept. 1.