RUMOR MILL: LB Brown To Return To Patriots

Chad Brown at Pats training camp

Sorely in need of depth at the linebacker position, the Patriots have been looking to the free agent market. While names such as Kawika Mitchell, Ed Hartwell and Scott Shanle were on the radar. A new, more familiar name has surfaced, Chad Brown. It looks like the Patriots LB unit is getting more experienced, not less.

Status: HOT (confrimed)

Buzz: LB Chad Brown has apparently agreed to terms with the New England Patriots according to Dan Pires of the Standard-Times.

Reality: PatriotsInsider.com has confirmed Brown [EDITOR's NOTE: PI Confirmed a veteran LB, not Brown by name] agreed to terms with the Patriots and is planning on a second go around with the boys from New England. Brown was with the New England Patriots in 2005 as the team struggled with injuries. He started alongside fellow newcomer Monty Beisel on the inside. When Tedy Bruschi returned from injury, Brown was relegated to more of a backup role. When the seasons ended, Brown was still part of the Patriots roster, but eventually moved on after being released by New England prior to the start of the 2006 season. Brown played for the Steelers in 2006.

While playing for the Patriots, Brown appeared in 15 games, recording 39 tackles (31 solo). As a Steeler in 2006, Brown appeared in just 8 games, recording 7 tackles (3 solo) and one sack.

Guss Scott (29), Chad Brown (98) and Tully Banta-Cain (95) at practice during Patriots training camp in Foxboro July 29, 2006 (Photo Kate Hamlin / PatriotsInsider.com)

Impact: The good news, is Brown knows the system much better than any of the team's rookies. The bad news is that Brown will be 37 in July. Familiar with both the inside and outside linebacker positions in the 3-4 defense, Brown provides an instant upgrade over the team's rookies who are struggling to absorb the responsibilities of the Patriots scheme.

Even at 37, Brown is younger and arguably quicker than another veteran linebacker who was expected to return this week, Junior Seau. While Seau was more adept at the inside role than Brown appeared to be, Brown's flexibility in coverage, and rushing the passer are traits that many 3-4 teams find attractive, including New England. Despite agreeing to terms, Brown has to pass the team's conditioning test, and make it through training camp in order to be on the roster at the start of the season. There's no guarantee that one of the younger linebackers won't beat out the cagey veteran. A solid team player, and genuine good guy, Brown will be more of an asset to the Patriots defense in 2007 than the liability many fans believe he will be.

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