In what will probably be one of the last mentions of Alex Brown here or anywhere among Bears fandom, at least until there is an injury of some kind at the position or someone doesn't play up to snuff. I'm going to make the assertion that not signing Brown to a similar two-year deal was a terrible move for the Bears organization, but one that had to be made. Before the sirens sound and the keyboards start cracking, take a step back from your positions and just allow one key fact to sink in before we look at it a bit closer.
Not all situations are the same.
What do I mean by that? Not all situations are the same? What I mean is that even stepping back from what defensive schemes we run or how good a player Brown is, or isn't, the Bears had a fundamentally different need from Brown, than what the Saints did. Put in a different way, our six million dollars over two-years was not going to be the same six million dollars the Saints were offering, at least in terms of value to Brown. Here is why...
- Just released their only starting caliber LE basically leaving a massive void on their defensive line one way or another.
- May target a defensive end in the draft even after signing Brown, but have essentially given him the ability to compete for a starting job.
- Is a team with a consistently undervalued defense, with much more focus being applied to the offensive successes or woes.
- Released their starting LE and began working under the assumption that there would be a platoon between Mark Anderson, and Israel Idonije
- Will not be targeting a defensive end at all most likely, and if so will be in the late rounds.
- Is a team with a consistently over-hyped defense, which much more focus being applied to defensive successes or woes, outside the QB position.
So I can hear the chorus of people proclaiming that they don't see that much of a difference between the two, and see no reason why Alex Brown couldn't be signed for the six million dollars. That once again comes down to slight differences in situations between the Saints and the Bears.
Mark Anderson is about 26, and if he's ever going to develop needs to see the field more. He may never be anything more than a third down guy, but until that's officially stamped on his forehead he has to see more playing time. Israel Idonije is a player who has done nothing but contribute in any way he possibly could since joining the Bears. If it was asked of him, it was done, everything from gaining weight, to losing weight, changes of positions, to being a force on ST. What do they have to do with each other? The Bears think they can get a reasonable approximation of Brown out of Idonije getting someone who has been proven to be a play maker at other positions some more field time, while at the same time placing someone with less of a name relieving any downward pressure on Anderson's playing time.
The reason name value matters at a position is that no matter how much a player has declined, or is just plain terrible as long as they have a big name there is pressure for them to be on the field. You've seen this all over the league for years and years, most glaringly last year with Orlando Pace being allowed to be terrible at LT for a prolonged period of time almost entirely due to his name value. Would AB be terrible at LE? I don't think so, and neither do the Saints, or the Bears staff as they expressed in the media, however in their mind keeping Alex Brown would have meant giving Alex Brown the majority of the snaps, regardless of their desire to see what they have in Anderson.
So, now we have a completely theory-crafted reasoning behind why the Bears wouldn't sign Alex Brown for 6 Million, but why stop half way when we're so close to having one from the other side as well. Alex Brown has been a starter for quite some time in the league, ignoring the first Mark Anderson incident. It's safe to say that not only does Alex Brown think he has something left in the tank, but that he actually does have something left in the tank. It may not be the same high octane rocket fuel that Peppers has, but it's something. It's completely within reason that Alex Brown would be willing to take less money for the opportunity to start, something that he definitely has in New Orleans. It's quite possible that Brown had less of a problem with a pay cut, then he did with being essentially the third man on a rotation. Whereas even if he doesn't win the starters job in NO over whoever they draft, he will still probably be the primary back up for both sides, and find himself in a mentor role ready to be called upon at a moments notice.
So folks, at the end of the day I'm firmly in the camp that would have loved to have Alex Brown as the best depth guy in the league, but that simply wasn't a decision the Bears or Alex Brown could realistically make for completely different reasons, which means he'll go back to being an average starter for someone else instead of fantastic depth with us. That's something that both Alex Brown and the Bears are fine with, and something we should learn to be okay with too.