From the Seahawks’ point of view, there are some similarities between a potential Brown deal and the September, 2006 trade for ex-New England receiver Deion Branch. Both Brown and Branch are clubhouse leaders whose value to a team exceeds their statistics. Both players have been stars for the teams, but have become unhappy over time with their situations. With Branch, it was his contract. Brown’s concerns run deeper – from the demotion to the five-year, $15 million extension he signed in December of 2004, there doesn’t seem to be much keeping him in Chicago. According to multiple sources, both Brown and GM Jerry Angelo are amenable to a trade.
Two more similarities between the Branch trade and a potential Brown deal – first, the fact that at the time of the Branch trade, the Seahawks appeared to be overstocked at the wide receiver position. But over time, the plan emerged to make Branch the key man in the Seahawks’ receiver corps, and that plan was cemented by Seattle’s draft day trade of Darrell Jackson to the 49ers for a fourth-round pick. If the Seahawks really are looking at Brown as an option for their defensive line rotation, those players who feel their positions are secure had best watch out.
The Seahawks led the NFL in sacks in 2005 with 50, and 32.5 of those quarterback takedowns came from the front four. Seattle finished sixth in 2006 with 41 sacks, but nine of those came in one game against the Oakland Raiders and their pathetic offensive line. And of those 41 sacks, only 24.5 came from the front four. Like Chicago, Seattle runs predominantly Cover-2 defensive looks, and pressure from the front four is crucial in that scheme. In 2006, the Bears’ front four came up with 35 of the team’s 40 sacks – an amazing figure.
This downturn in productivity for the Seahawks’ front four could lead to the final similarity – the prospect of “overpaying” for a player whose potential has not quite brought about elite production just yet. Seattle’s decision to give up a first-round pick for Branch AND to renegotiate his contract looks iffy in retrospect, given all their positional needs, and giving up a second-round pick for Brown might prove problematic as well, given Brown’s desire for a new deal. The Seahawks would appear to be flush at defensive end, with rookie Baraka Atkins, second-year man Darryl Tapp, and veterans Patrick Kerney and Bryce Fisher. Seattle signed Kerney, the former Falcons DE, to a six-year, $39.5 million contract in March of this year. Bringing Brown from one situation in which he feels underutilized and underpaid to another doesn’t really make a lot of sense.
Brown is a solid, balanced player who can defend the run and rush the passer. He doesn’t have one outstanding skillset, but he does everything well. He scores high on the “character” and “intangibles” tests. However, he’s never put up more than 58 tackles and seven sacks in a season. Whether that’s worth what it might take for the Seahawks is a matter of contention, but if the rumors are true, the team is at least considering the idea.
Doug Farrar is the Editor-in-Chief of Seahawks.NET, a staff writer for Football Outsiders, and a regular contributor to FoxSports.com. Feel free to e-mail Doug here.