Welcome to our seventh installment in a 12-part series in which we are forecasting the 2016 production of each of the New England Patriots’ offseason veteran additions. Today, we’re projecting the debut season of Donald Brown in a Patriots uniform.
In case you missed them, here are three recent installments in the series:
The skinny: The Patriots signed Brown to a one-year deal during free agency. Brown’s two-year stint with the San Diego Chargers was viewed as largely a disappointment, as the 2009 first round pick of the Indianapolis Colts managed just 452 rushing yards, 299 receiving yards and only one touchdown in that span.
Pessimistic forecast: Despite a change of scenery, Brown isn’t able to revive his career. A crowded running back depth chart in New England renders him expendable, and he gets cut at the end of training camp. Due to his skill set not being differentiated enough from Dion Lewis and James White, the Patriots find that they don’t need him.
Pessimistic stats projection: cut before Week 1
Optimistic forecast: Brown becomes the story of training camp, making both Lewis and White sweat that much more in the August heat. In fact, Brown plays so well that he forces the Patriots to take five running backs onto their active roster for Week 1. Brown joins LeGarrette Blount, Lewis, White and special teams guy Brandon Bolden on the depth chart.
In the regular season, Brown proves that he can handle a healthy workload of carries, spelling Blount and filling-in when and if the injury bug hits the backfield.
Optimistic forecast: 334 rush yards, 4.1 yards per carry, 3 touchdowns; 28 receptions, 332 receiving yards, 2 receiving touchdowns
Realistic forecast: Brown makes the final roster by the skin of his teeth, but is a week-to-week decision. The Patriots will employ his services when they identify that Brown’s skill set fits their game plan. He will not be guaranteed much playing time with the likes of Blount, Lewis and White above him. But when the Patriots call on Brown, the veteran will deliver.
Realistic forecast: 156 rushing yards, 3.8 yards per carry, 2 touchdowns; 17 receptions, 201 receiving yards, receiving touchdown
Stay tuned here on Musket Fire for coverage on every twist and turn in the Patriots’ offseason.