Wide receiver Troy Brown became the second Patriot free agent to re-sign with the team when he inked a five-year deal on Saturday. Brown joined safety Lawyer Milloy as unrestricted free agents who re-signed with the Patriots when he signed the deal, which is believed to be worth $13 million and includes a $2.5 million signing bonus.
Brown spoke to the media in a conference call Monday morning and was understandably excited about returning to New England.
"I'm happy to be playing again," Brown said. "I love playing the game and I'm glad to be back. The fans know me so I don't have to go out and win them over. The coaches know me, the players know me and I'm definitely happy to be back."
Brown will enter his eighth season, all with the Patriots, and will compete for the starting job alongside Terry Glenn with the departure of last year's No. 2 receiver Shawn Jefferson. Jefferson signed as a free agent with Atlanta earlier this month.
"I always come into training camp thinking I have an opportunity to start," Brown said. "It's not that important to me to be on the field for the first play of the game as long as I get my reps and get the chance to make some plays."
Brown came to New England as an eighth-round pick out of Marshall in 1993, the same season Drew Bledsoe arrived. Bledsoe has long trumpeted Brown's importance as a clutch third-down receiver.
His most famous third-down catch came in the 1996 finale against the New York Giants at the Meadowlands. As the Patriots rallied back from a 22-0 deficit, they faced a third-and-13 in Giants' territory as time was running out. Bledsoe looked to Brown but his pass was low and well behind the 5-10, 190-pound receiver. Brown reached back and caught the ball while on his back to keep the drive alive as the Patriots posted a 23-22 victory to secure a bye in the first round of the playoffs.
Brown caught 36 passes for 471 yards and a touchdown this past season despite missing three games with a severe ankle injury. He also excelled as a return specialist. He returned 38 punts for 405 yards (10.7 ypr) with a long of 52 yards. When rookie Kevin Faulk went down with a broken ankle in a Week 14 loss at Indianapolis, Brown stepped in as the kick returner. He picked up 271 yards on eight returns (33.9 ypr), including a 54-yarder against Baltimore in the season finale.
Brown has developed a reputation as a fan-favorite with his all-out style and fearlessness on the field.
"I think they appreciate a guy going out and playing hard for them every week," Brown said. "The fans pay their hard-earned money for those tickets and they expect you to go out there and play hard. I try to do that and I think they recognize that."
The Patriots are still considering the course of action with their remaining free agents, which include linebackers Tedy Bruschi, Marty Moore and Jeff Kopp, cornerback Steve Israel, defensive end Ferric Collons and defensive tackle Bob Kuberski.