As reported by Mike Sando of the Tacoma News Tribune (and confirmed by New England reporter Mike Reiss of the Metro West Daily News), the New England Patriots have once again shown their mastery of the NFL’s financial constraints and complexities. The latest player to fall under the spell of Bill Belichick and Scott Pioli is former Seahawks OLB Chad Brown.
Brown reportedly refused an offer from the Seahawks to restructure his contract - an offer that would have paid him approximately $1 million plus incentives for the 2005 season. But as these reports show, Brown’s deal with New England is for two years and $2.35 million, with a $485,000 signing bonus. Brown's base salaries are $765,000 in 2005 and $800,000 in 2006, In addition, the Patriots will pay Brown a $100,000 roster bonus in 2005 and a $200,000 roster bonus in 2006. According to Reiss, Brown's salary cap hit for 2005 is $1.1 million. There are also unspecified incentives, which could conceivably spike the total deal to the $4 million total that had been previously reported by Seahawks.NET and several other news sources.
When asked why he accepted the Patriots’ offer amidst so much interest (he was being courted by Pittsburgh, Denver and New Orleans as well), Brown cited Belichick’s creativity. He also said that he is up to the challenge of learning the complex schemes the Patriots use to confuse the rest of the NFL into submission. "I've played in a 3-4, I've played in a 4-3 and I've played end in the nickel and linebacker in the nickel," Brown told Reiss. "In my conversation with Coach Belichick, I was definitely under the impression that I would get to play a few different spots and that's a role I'm very comfortable in."
"I know the Patriots are inventive, but I can't imagine a role, or a coverage or style of play that I haven't played before," he said. "Some of the terminology might be different, but other than bridging the language difference, I don't see much of a problem."
Seattle’s defense, ranked 26th in the NFL last season and mired in a sea of sameness from a playbook perspective, may have been unacceptable to a man who former Seattle Post-Intelligencer reporter Les Carpenter once called “one of the smartest players I’ve ever met.”
The Patriot Way, lined with Lombardi trophies as it is, now has another talented player in its ranks – another player who accepted less money to play in New England than he may have received elsewhere.
Brown originally signed a six-year, $24 million contract with the Seahawks in 1997 and re-signed with the team in 2002 for five more years and $28.5 million. He was scheduled to make $4.2 million with the Seahawks in 2005, but his age (he will turn 35 in July) and recent injury history (he has missed nineteen games over the last three seasons) had Seattle thinking about restructuring his contract. When Brown balked at Seattle’s offer, the Seahawks decided to release him and use the immediate $2.37 million in cap relief to assist them in signing former Texans linebacker Jamie Sharper and former Titans cornerback Andre Dyson.
Brown has but three playoff losses to show for his eight-year term in Seattle. In those eight years, Brown played in 107 games – starting 106 – and recorded 745 tackles (586 solo), 31 passes defensed, 48 sacks, 11 forced fumbles, 13 fumble recoveries, and 3 interceptions.
If he can stay healthy, Chad Brown will provide a stellar pass rush presence to a team that already has terrorized its share of quarterbacks. Brown acknowledged the concerns regarding his injury history, but he also mentioned that he’s ready to let it fly in his new home. "Obviously, I missed some time last season with a broken leg, but I think a broken leg is different than say a damaged knee or a disc in the back that is going to slow you down over time. The bone is healed and I missed (nine games), so I actually feel fresher, stronger and in better shape than I did at this point last offseason. I feel fantastic. I'm truly ready to go."
If this is the case, the New England Patriots – ubergenius Belichick and twice-consecutive NFL Executive of the Year Pioli - may have outdone even themselves. And Chad Brown may be well on his way to the Super Bowl ring that has eluded him throughout his 12-year NFL career.
Doug Farrar is the Editor-in-Chief of Seahawks.NET. Feel free to e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.