New England needed to add depth at wide receiver after Dante Stallworth injured an ankle Monday and will miss the rest of the year. Also, Julian Edelman, another receiver, has a foot injury that will keep him out of the lineup for the remainder of the season.
Wednesday's signing marks a third stint with the Patriots for Branch, 33. He was taken by New England in the second round of the 2002 draft and was with the team for four seasons. He was selected the Most Valuable Player of Super Bowl XXXIX after catching 11 passes for 133 yards in the game.
He was traded to Seattle in 2006 and then traded back to New England in 2010.
In 137 NFL games, Branch has 511 receptions for 6,579 yards and 39 touchdowns. In seven games this season, he has caught nine passes for 80 yards.