Photo: New England Patriots wide receiver Troy Brown, played in the defensive back field in Super Bowl XXXIX. Seen here stretching at practice in Jacksonville, Fla., Friday afternoon Feb. 4, 2005. The Patriots went on to defeat the Philadelphia Eagles 24-21 to win their third Super Bowl in four years. (AP Photo/Stephan Savoia)
Report: Brown Returns to New England
Team signs veteran to the roster for 2005
By Patriots Insider Staff
The New England Patriots have agreed to bring back one of the team's more popular players, wide receiver Troy Brown. Brown, who was released in March for salary cap reasons, will return to the Patriots for the 2005 season according to information confirmed by Patriots Insider.
Brown, a 13-year veteran receiver who has been with the team for four of its Super Bowl runs, will bring his veteran leadership and playmaking ability to the defending champions rather than take it to another team. Reports surfaced earlier this month that Brown, who was free to pursue opportunities with another team, was speaking with the New Orleans Saints. Those were the only reports of Brown talking to another franchise outside of the Patriots. After speaking with Brown's agent, the saints signed Nate Poole, effectively taking them out of the running for Brown.
The Boston Herald pointed out that Brown's locker has had his nameplate intact since his release, further fueling the speculation that the team would resign the crafty veteran. Head coach Bill Belichick added to that speculation when he praised Brown's leadership and selflessness.
"Leadership is about one word on the Patriots. One word: attitude," said Belichick. "I haven't been around a better leader in 30 years in the NFL than Troy Brown," he continued. "Whatever I ask him to do, he does. Play defensive back. Return punts. Whatever. He'll do it for the good of the team, and that's a great leader."
Brown played multiple positions for the Patriots in 2004; wide receiver, kick returner and defensive back. It was this versatility that endeared him to many. Brown had always played receiver for the team, and had been returning kicks for years, but last season tried his hand at defensive back. The experiment began in training camp when Brown worked closely with former secondary coach and current defensive coordinator Eric Mangini.
When injuries took their toll on the Patriots roster, Brown stepped in on passing situations covering the slot receiver, opposite the position he normally plays on offense. His ability to cover on defense was tested by teams who saw Brown as a weak link, but his athletic ability allowed him to fare well enough to disprove that theory.
Brown's numbers on offense were down in 2004, as David Givens, David Patten, and Deion Branch assumed the lead positions. He was able to manage 17 receptions for 184 yards with 1 touchdown on offense. Brown led the team in punt return average for the season with a 6.9 yard per return average. Ironically it was his defensive play where he stood out.
Brown's defensive and special teams play were key areas where the veteran had a significant impact with the team. As a part-time defender Brown netted only 17 tackles, but had 2 fumble recovers, 3 interceptions and was effective in covering opponents slot receivers.
Brown's role on the team in 2005 will likely depend on competition at the positions he's normally assigned to. At receiver the team added David Terrell and Tim Dwight to improve the depth at the position. Dwight is expected to figure into the mix as a returner, whether that's on kicks or punt units. On defense, the team signed Duane Starks, drafted Ellis Hobbs, III and is expecting the return of veteran Tyrone Poole who missed the majority of the season, along with the return of second-year Guss Scott.
NOTE: You can find out more about Troy on his official website: TroyBrown80.com