Less than a week after releasing one of the franchise's most iconic players in Ty Law, the Patriots declined yesterday to pick up their 2005 option on wide receiver Troy Brown. Brown, 33, has spent his entire career in New England since they drafted him in the seventh round of the 1993 draft. The Marshall product caught only 17 balls last season, though that is a statistic somewhat skewed by one of the Pats most heralded storylines of 2004, Brown's introduction as a defensive back. With the myriad injuries that plagued New England's secondary this past season, Brown filled in at nickel back in several games, tying Tedy Bruschi for second on the team with three interceptions. As Jerome Solomon of The Boston Globe reports, Brown was let loose because of his 2005 salary. After being paid less than a million dollars in 2004, Brown was due to receive a 2005 salary of $2.5 million as well as a roster bonus of the same amount. As Solomon writes, this would make Brown's salary cap figure approximately $5.7 million.
Tom Curran of The Providence Journal has more on Brown's release, recalling the many contributions the versatile football player has made to the New England franchise. Specifically, Curran harkens back to 2001, the Patriots first championship season. Brown caught 101 balls that season, while also leading the league in punt return average. It is nearly impossible to forget Brown's AFC Championship game in Pittsburgh that season, when he caught eight passes for 121 yards and returned a Josh Miller punt for a touchdown. Curran and Michael Parente of The Woonsocket Call both suggest the possibility Brown and the Patriots will work something out, and the veteran will be able to return to New England at a reduced rate. However, if that does not happen, fans will surely mourn the loss of a player who exemplified the Patriots team concept as well as anyone who has donned the organization's uniform.
Michael Felger of The Boston Herald contends the cutting of Brown is indicative of a Patriots youth movement. In the past week the team has released Law, 31, Roman Phifer, 36, and Brown, 33. Conversely, the team yesterday tendered offers to restricted free agents Stephen Neal, 28, Tom Ashworth, 27, Jarvis Green, 26, and David Givens, 24. This, Felger writes, shows the teams intent on protecting its younger players, an approach that is hard to argue against considering the youth that propped up many of the Patriots positions this season.
Mike Reiss of The MetroWest Daily News reports New England reached a long-term agreement last evening with another restricted free agent, Brandon Gorin. Reiss reports the deal is a three-year extension that will pay the three-year veteran accordingly, should he spend the season as a starter or a back-up.
Jarret Bell of* USA Today* looks at the free agent market league-wide, as more than 300 players are now available to the highest bidders.
Alan Greenberg of The Hartford Courant reviews the many remaining issues facing Bill Belichick and Scott Pioli in this offseason.
Finally, Scott Allenof the Globe and Jessica Heslamof the Herald report on a hospital phenomenon becoming known as "The Tedy Bruschi Effect." Apparently, in the wake of the veteran linebacker's stroke two weeks ago, area hospitals experienced a noticeable spike in individuals admitting themselves with stroke-like symptoms.