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NFL

5 Possible Landing Spots for CB Brandon Browner in Free Agency

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5 Possible Landing Spots for Brandon Browner

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Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

Former Pro Bowler Brandon Browner was reinstated by the NFL on Tuesday, Mar. 4, 2014. Browner was prepared for a long battle with the NFL and the NFLPA over being placed into Stage 3 of the NFL’s drug testing program because he had missed numerous tests during his five years in the CFL. Browner and his attorney alleged that Browner couldn’t have been accountable for tests the NFL tried to mandate him to do since he wasn’t in the NFL. Due to the reversal, Browner is now eligible to become a free agent on Mar. 11 when free agency begins.

A Pro Bowler in 2011, Browner had six interceptions, two defensive touchdowns, 23 passes defended and 51 tackles. He teamed with current All-Pro Richard Sherman, current All-Pro Earl Thomas and strong safety Kam Chancellor to form the best secondary in the NFL. Browner is 29, but he has only played the equivalent of two and a half seasons. He was, arguably, a top 10 cornerback in the league at a time when the NFL is placing more emphasis on leveling the playing field for offenses. Needless to say, had it not been for the suspension teams would probably be knocking on his door trying to sign him once free agency begins.

How much of Browner’s success was due to him playing with Sherman, Thomas and Chancellor? It seems like it’s time to find out because the Seattle Seahawks were able to replace Browner with Walter Thurmond III and then later Byron Maxwell. The Seahawks have, also, prioritized re-signing defensive end Michael Bennett, so it doesn’t seem like Browner will be returning. What uniform will Browner be wearing the next time he steps on a football field? Here are five possible landing spots.

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5. New England Patriots

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Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

The New England Patriots made it to the AFC championship game thanks to the brilliance of Tom Brady, the genius of Bill Belichick and the exceptional play of one Aqib Talib. Talib was acquired from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and has paid immediate dividends since the acquisition. However, Talib was injured in the AFC championship game against the Ravens in 2013 and he was again injured in this year’s AFC championship game. Talib is a free agent and has stated that he wants to be paid according to the market, which was set by the Miami Dolphins and Brent Grimes once he signed his four-year, $32 million contract. If the Patriots feel that Talib’s asking price is too high, they could turn their attention to Browner. Belicheck has never hesitated to take a chance on “troubled” players (e.g Albert Haynesworth, Chad Ochocinco), and Browner would be a great replacement for Talib.

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4. Cleveland Browns

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Stew Milne-USA TODAY Sports

New Browns head coach Mike Pettine is a disciple of Rex Ryan. Pettine is bringing his version of the 3-4 to Cleveland in hopes that he can restore a once proud franchise from laughingstock to contender. Pettine already has an All-Pro cornerback in Joe Haden and he has interest in bringing in All-Pro safety Jairus Byrd. Pettine learned from Ryan firsthand that what’s better than one elite cornerback is two elite cornerbacks. Browner could find himself here.

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3. New Orleans Saints

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Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Rob Ryan came in and completely revamped the New Orleans Saints defense, a defense that played well enough for the Saints to have been hosting the NFC championship game instead of watching it from the Bayou. Ryan discovered a gem in Keenan Lewis but has a hole at the other cornerback spot. The Saints were looking at a terrible cap situation until they released some high-priced veterans. While the Jimmy Graham contract situation is one to pay attention to, the Saints may look to beef up their improving defense. Adding Browner opposite Lewis gives Rob Ryan what all Ryan brothers want: two good cover corners who don’t need much safety help.

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2. Philadelphia Eagles

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Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Cary Williams was signed last year and played well for an otherwise porous Philadelphia Eagles secondary. The Eagles have a need and a lot of cap space. Browner would give the Eagles someone to defend Dez Bryant, Pierre Garcon and Victor Cruz six times a season as the Eagles try to repeat as division champions. With an improving pass rush, adding Browner opposite Williams makes the Eagles' defense a strength.

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1. New York Jets

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Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY

Jets general manager John Idzik was part of the front office that scouted Browner and signed him in 2011. This familiarity should help the Jets become early front-runners to sign him. Browner would be an adequate replacement to Antonio Cromartie, who is set to become a salary cap casualty within the next few days but may be re-signed. Browner excels in man coverage and is a big defensive back. Browner can also slide over to cover the slot; this facet of his game will intrigue Jets head coach Rex Ryan because it gives him a way to play first-round pick Dee Milliner, Browner and Cromartie (should he be re-signed) together. This is the perfect landing spot for Browner.