This is perhaps the least surprising sports story in New England history. Even after releasing him, the Patriots never removed Branch's nameplate from the locker room. You never heard any rumblings that he might end up elsewhere. And with the injury to Aaron Hernandez, the Pats could use another reliable receiving weapon. There was no way that this wouldn't happen.
They also signed Kellen Winslow Jr. Winslow had worked out with the Patriots before the start of the season. I remember WEEI's Lou Merloni being baffled that the Pats would work out multiple tight-ends (they also worked out then signed Michael Hoomananawanui), if they didn't intend to sign them. This is why, Lou... just in case.
What will the offense look like without Hernandez and with Branch and Winslow?
Branch has always been one of Brady's most reliable, must-have-down targets for Brady. When it's 3rd and 7, Branch will get 8. He's older, but he can still play a situational role on the offense, which should take some pressure off Brandon Lloyd.
The Patriots can't just replace Hernandez's type of production. Winslow will get some passes thrown to him, but Hernandez was practically a wide-receiver. Branch will get some throws, Welker will get more attention, and the whole offense will have to change while Hernandez is out.
It's always good after both a loss and an injury to a key player to get a nice bit of news. I'm glad to see Branch back.