BOSTON (CBS) — Alan Branch is reportedly finalizing a two-year deal to stay with the Patriots, just hours before NFL free agency kicks off at 4 p.m. on Thursday. CSNNE’s Mike Giardi first broke the news on Twitter.

The NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport later tweeted that the reported extension is for two years and up to $12 million. The Boston Herald’s Jeff Howe tweeted in the aftermath of the news that the Patriots “laid the groundwork” for an extension with Branch last Wednesday and the two sides “ironed out the details” from there.

Branch played in all 16 games for the Patriots in 2016, playing a key role as a run-stuffer in the middle of the Patriots defensive line. He recorded 49 total tackles and 1.5 sacks. He also played a big role in the Patriots’ Super Bowl LI comeback, recovering the fumble forced by Dont’a Hightower’s strip-sack of Matt Ryan in the fourth quarter.

Branch ranked 25th among all “interior defenders” in the NFL with a Pro Football Focus grade of 80.4, including the ninth-best “run defense” grade with 83.0.

[graphiq id=”ko4yKxAkeot” title=”Alan Branch Career Salary by Season” width=”600″ height=”594″ url=”” link=”” link_text=”PointAfter | Graphiq” ]

Easily the Patriots’ most reliable, high-performing defensive tackle in 2016, Branch was due for a pay raise after what was arguably a career-best season in 2016. A two-year deal with an AAV of up to $6 million certainly qualifies. Branch earned over $5.75 million in cash over his first three years in New England combined.

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