The Colts agreed to terms with the 34-year-old Branch on Monday to bolster a receiving group that's dealing with injuries. Branch first worked out for the Colts in December.
"We have a pool of guys in case you have injuries," coach Chuck Pagano said. "Deion was one of the guys we worked out. He's a local guy who lives in Carmel, [Ind.], he's in great shape, had a great workout and obviously he's a proven guy and played at a high level for a long time in this league. With him being right here in our backyard and us having some familiarity with him from just working him out, it just made sense to bring him on board at this point."
Branch spent seven seasons with New England and was named the MVP of Super Bowl XXXIX. Branch last played in 2012, when he caught 16 passes for 145 yards in 10 games with the Patriots. He played in one career game against New England, in 2008 while with the Seattle Seahawks. He caught four passes for 88 yards and two touchdowns in a 24-21 Patriots victory.
"We figured the questions were going to come up that we were signing this guy who spent some time in New England," Pagano said. "Is it just a coincidence or do you need the guy to help you win a football game and help your team? Every decision we make is based on what's best for this team and what gives us the best chance to win, and we think we have one heck of a football player."
Wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey, the Colts' fifth receiver, will miss Saturday's game against the Patriots with a hamstring injury.
Moala missed Saturday's playoff game against Kansas City with a knee injury, and Toler aggravated the groin injury that caused him to miss seven games earlier this season.