FOXBORO, MA — For all the times he came through for them over the past seven seasons, Troy Brown is happy the Patriots came through with a contract offer to keep him.
After signing a five year deal worth $15 million, Brown is glad he won’t have to go somewhere else to start over. Most of all he’s just happy that the team stepped up and made an effort to keep him here in New England.
“I’m definitely happy to be back in New England,” said Brown. “The fans know me, I don’t have to go out and win new fans, all the coaches know me, the players know me, so it’s definitely a good thing to be back in New England.”
After visiting Kansas City last week, the Chiefs did try to put together an offer that was comparable with New England’s, but Brown felt all things being equal, he’d rather stick around.
“They were in the ball park, but all things being even it was better for me to stay in a situation where they were familiar with me,” said Brown. “The fans are familiar with me and I didn’t have to go win over anyone else. So the best situation was to stay in New England instead of going somewhere else.”
“[The Patriots] stepped up to the plate pretty good. I mean they paid me alot of money to do what I do playing football, so I’m just thankful to be back here. I think they feel like they can get some good things out of me, and I’ll do good things for our organization.”
After signing a contract that currently has him as the highest paid receiver on the Patriots roster, Brown doesn’t feel that it will change his approach in the locker rom. Asked if his new contract would make him more vocal in the locker room, Brown said, “I’m not going to go in the locker room and just get comfortable because of the money I make. I have to earn that. I speak my mind most of the time anyway, and I’m not going to say anything detrimental to my team. But most of the time if someone asks me a question about something, I’m going to tell them the truth.”
Like safety Lawyer Milloy, the signing of Bill Belichick was a big factor in Brown’s decision to remain on the team.
“That was a big factor,” said Brown. “I always said after seven years of playing, you want to play for somebody who’s familiar with you. There’s only a few teams around the league that had somebody on their staff that was familiar with me, and that was a big part of my decision.”
The hiring of new offensive coordinator Charlie Weis has Brown optimistic for the Patriots to rejuvenate an offense that struggled the entire second half of last season. This scheme allows the team to spread the field, and will give the receivers plenty of opportunities to get open and make plays.
“It was a pretty exciting offense,” said Brown of Weis’ scheme. “It was an offense where it gave you the chance to get open and catch the ball. Just looking at some of the things the Jets did, the way they spread the field open that’s going to be a little different coming from Charlie [Weis] because when he was here last time we were more conventional than anything else. When you see them playing down there, they had guys all over the field. They had runningbacks split out, they have Curtis [Martin] coming out of the backfield, he’s outside playing receiver and stuff, and they’re out there running all kinds of patterns. Actually we were sitting in the meeting room looking at this and saying ‘they really have a good team down there’, so it’ll be nice to have a chance to get a taste of that. Charlie’s always been a guy that knows the game, and I’m quite sure he’ll have us ready to play.”
Asked if the offense will be dramatically different, Brown said, “I don’t know about dramatically different, it’s going to be different in different ways. Right now we don’t have Bruce [Armstrong], we don’t have Ben [Coates] on offense, and those are the things we have to go through. I expect us to be better than last year. We were a .500 team last year, so you always expect to be better. I think this will be a better team passing the ball, running the ball, defensively, special teams and everything, so I just expect us to be a much better football team.”
After starting off 6-2 last season, the Patriots went 2-6 the rest of the way and finished the year at 8-8. Offensive coordinator Charlie Weis has now stepped in to replace Ernie Zampese, and he finds himself with the task of trying to figure out what went wrong with what should have been one of the league’s most potent offenses. Looking back at their struggle to move the ball offensively, Brown said that teams had simply figured them out.
“I think teams just made adjustments,” said Brown. “They figured out what we were doing and we couldn’t figure out what they were doing. It took us a whole season and we never really figured out how to get back on track. By the time we did it was too late anyway. So hopefully we’ll just throw that out the window and get back to being a successful offense again this year.”
One thing that makes Brown a valuable asset is his ability to return kicks. He returned 38 punts for 405 yards last season, including a 52 yard return. Brown was also great on kick returns for New England, picking up 271 yards on eight returns and averaging 33.9 yards per return, including a 54-yarder against Baltimore in the season finale. Being a return man is a role that Brown says he would definitely like to continue with.
“I definitely want to do kick-return and punt return,” said Brown. “I don’t know what they’re going to do, but I’m just going to do what ever they ask me to do. I think I’ll be returning the punts, but I don’t know about kickoffs right now. I know Derrick Cullors is coming back and Kevin Faulk will be there so those are our two primary kickoff return guys the past year. I don’t know how they’re going to handle that situation.”
He will also have an opportunity to start opposite Terry Glenn as the team’s number two receiver after Shawn Jefferson signed with the Atlanta Falcons earlier in the month. While Jefferson departing opens the door for Brown to start for New England, he’s always felt like he could have that opportunity.
“There is always an opportunity in my mind,” said Brown. “I always think coming into camp that I have the opportunity to win the job. I don’t know how the selection process goes, but I’m always going out to win the job. To me it’s not that important that I’m in the game on the first play. The thing that’s the most important to me is getting in there and getting the reps and the catches and being able to make plays for your team.”
Losing Shawn Jefferson is something that Brown is a little unhappy about. He and Jefferson had a good friendship, and not having him in the locker room is one of the things that Brown says he is going to miss.
“The one thing that Shawn and I had off the field was a great friendship,” said Brown. “We still talk on a weekly basis, so that’s the biggest thing to me is our friendship. It’s not going to be the same, but we’re still good friends, I just don’t see him every day. The thing in the locker room I’m going to miss is just the intensity. He used to get so upset when everybody else was so relaxed, and you couldn’t help but laugh or smile at him when he’s standing up and walking around. His leadership and his intensity toward the game helped alot of people out along the way.”
Fans throughout New England definitely have to be pleased that #80 will be out on the field playing for the Patriots next season. If they are wondering if Troy Brown has noticed the support he’s received from them over the last seven seasons, not to worry. Not only has he noticed them, but he’s thankful for all the cheers he’s received and will continue to play hard for them.
“I think that [the fans] respect seeing guys go out and playing hard for them every week,” said Brown. “They come out and spend their hard earned money on those tickets, and I just feel like they appreciate a guy coming out and playing hard. When it got hard and maybe things weren’t going our way, and even though we had no chance of going to the playoffs, they still showed up and expected to see some good football. I think from some of the guys they got some of that, so I think that’s what they wanted to see. They wanted to see guys play hard.”
Fortunately for the fans, that’s the only type of play Troy Brown knows how to give.