On Mar. 13 I wrote that the New England Patriots signing free agent cornerback Darrelle Revis to what is essentially a one-year, $12 million deal could be the best free agent acquisition in 2014. Signing free agent cornerback Brandon Browner?
Much less impressive.
On Friday, Mar. 14 it was reported in the media that the Patriots and Browner had reached an agreement on a three-year, $17 million deal. While Browner is a physical corner who has size (6-foot-3, 220-pounds) and may be a complement to Revis, I’m not sure Patriots fans should be psyched about this news.
Browner, who previously played for the Seattle Seahawks after going undrafted in 2011, was selected to the Pro Bowl in his rookie year, but he was then suspended for four games in 2012 for violating the NFL‘s policy on performance-enhancing drugs. Browner was then also suspended for the last two games of the 2013 regular season and the playoffs, and that suspension will continue through the first four games of the 2014 season.
True, the Patriots are not spending a ton of money for Browner and they are extremely adept at handling distractions and character issues; they just have other holes they should have addressed (wide receiver, pass rusher and tight end come to mind) before they signed another cornerback, especially one who has been suspended multiple times. It just seems to be too much of a gamble to take given all of the needs the Patriots have to address this offseason. While they are not in terrible shape, it’s not like the Patriots have a ton of salary cap space. The Patriots don’t know which Browner they will get — the 2011 Pro Bowl version or the one who gets suspended and struggled in Seattle last season, getting outshined by Byron Maxwell, a first-time starter.
I understand that other than Revis the Patriots do not have a shutdown corner, but they have other decent cornerbacks on their roster, including Alfonzo Dennard and Kyle Arrington, and there’s no guarantee Browner will be a shutdown corner. With Revis able to lock up against the opposing team’s best receiver and the depth at the cornerback position in this year’s draft, there was no need for the Patriots to take a gamble on signing a free agent who has been suspended multiple times in the past.
It is possible the Patriots get the 2011 Browner and he stays out of trouble, but fans should be concerned that Browner is possibly one suspension away from being out of the NFL and that his performance while on the Patriots is not up to the standard he set in 2011.