McGowan, Patriots Agree to Terms

The Chicago Bears will have a much different look at both safety positions in 2009. Mike Brown is the biggest name that won't be back in the Windy City, and now the window has officially been closed on Brandon McGowan. On Tuesday, the former Maine Black Bear became a member of the Patriots.

If the Monsters of the Midway are going to be an elite defensive team once again in 2009, then they need to get better play from their safeties – and make sure they stay on the field, too.

So not only will former Pro Bowler Mike Brown no longer be in the mix because of his seemingly never-ending list of injuries, but Brandon McGowan, who himself has spent way too much time on IR, is also going to be sporting a new address this year. McGowan agreed Tuesday to a two-year contract with the Patriots, as New England is hoping the former undrafted free agent can provide some depth behind starters Brandon Meriweather and James Sanders and second-round pick Patrick Chung. McGowan beat out Danieal Manning for nickelback duties during the preseason this past year, although he only played two games before being moved to injured reserve because of a broken ankle.

The 5-11, 205-pounder finishes his Bears career with 105 tackles, two interceptions, and five passes defensed in 25 games.

McGowan (36) played in just 25 of 64 possible games with the Bears because of injuries.
Nam Y. Huh/AP Images

With Brown shown the door, Kevin Payne can now head back to his natural home at strong safety – he was playing out of place at free safety in 2008. Josh Bullocks, a free-agent acquisition from the Saints, was brought in to compete at free safety, although general manager Jerry Angelo said recently that Craig Steltz will be given first crack at the starting job. Fellow second-year pro Zack Bowman is making the switch from corner to safety this season, and sixth-rounder Al Afalava has a chance to challenge for playing time at either position.

While McGowan was a tough in-the-box defender and at times stood out on special teams, only once could he stay healthy enough to suit up for more than eight games after unexpectedly making the club in 2005.

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John Crist is the Publisher of Bear Report and a member of the Professional Football Writers of America. To read him every day, visit and become a Chicago Bears insider.

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