The Chicago Bears released DE Alex Brown yesterday after spending 8 years with the team. Brown was deemed expendable when the Bears signed Julius Peppers at the onset of free agency, though I don’t understand how a team can cut a productive player just because they have another one. If anything, the Peppers signing would have strengthened Brown by opposing teams focusing on stopping Peppers, but I digress. Alex Brown has 43 1/2 sacks through his 8 years, including 5 INTs, 16 forced fumbles, 11 fumble recoveries, and 3 blocked kicks. Last season, Brown had 6 sacks, which isn’t his best, but not bad considering that the defense had a ton of injuries. Patriots fans have been asking about fit/interest in regards to Brown possibly becoming a Patriot, and I admit I am also intrigued.The question is: Would Alex Brown fit into the Patriots’ 3-4 defense? If so, where?
The Patriots traded away Richard Seymour before the start of last season and lost his replacement, Jarvis Green, to the Broncos in free agency this offseason. There is a major hole at DE opposite Ty Warren, but that is not a hole that I would see Alex Brown filling. The Pats’ 3-4 defensive ends are usually guys that would play defensive tackle in a 4-3 defense. Brown was a DE in the 4-3 and lacks the size the Pats look for in their 4-3 defensive ends. Richard Seymour is 6’6″, 310 pounds and Ty Warren is 6’5″, 300 pounds. Alex Brown is “only” 6’3″ and 260 pounds. Unless the Pats switch to a 4-3 defense on a more permanent basis, I don’t see Brown fitting at end.
What is in the realm of possibility (though probably a long shot), is Brown making the switch to outside linebacker. The Patriots tried a similar move just last season with Derrick Burgess, a player of comparable size (6’2″, 260 pounds). Brown would probably be more of a situational pass-rusher, though if signed before camp he would have much more time to prepare and practice in the new position than Burgess had last year. Though the Patriots need to get much younger at the position, Brown would provide much needed depth. The Patriots do like their veteran players, and Brown, Peppers, and Burgess are all about the same age, so toss the, “He’s too old,” argument out. Whether they add veteran depth or not, the Pats will be drafting for the position. From all accounts, Brown is a great locker room guy as well, and locker room atmosphere has been a key topic this offseason.
I do not want to make it sound like Alex Brown is on the Patriots’ radar (though he may be), but he would make sense based on need. He also follows a pattern to what the team has tried in the past. Pats CEO Jonathon Kraft did indicate that the Pats would be looking for more veterans, and anticipated more veterans being released. It is possible that June may have come early.