Saints add CB Brandon Browner

ByMike Triplett ESPN logo
Friday, March 13, 2015

METAIRIE, La. -- The New Orleans Saints signed former New England Patriots cornerback Brandon Browner to a three-year contract -- their first new free-agent addition in an offseason that has so far been dominated by subtractions.

Browner's three-year deal is worth $15 million, including $10 million guaranteed, a source told ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter.

Browner becomes the second starting cornerback from the Super Bowl champion Patriots to leave the team this week. Darrelle Revis signed a five-year, $70 million contract with the New York Jets earlier this week after the Patriots declined his $20 million option for 2015.

The team also re-signed backup linebacker Ramon Humber to a two-year deal on a busy day that included the trade of two-time Pro Bowl guard Ben Grubbs to the Kansas City Chiefs. Terms of both deals were undisclosed.

Browner, 30, is a big, physical corner (6-foot-4, 221 pounds) who made the Pro Bowl in 2011 and played for the past two Super Bowl championship teams. He spent last year with the Patriots after spending the three previous seasons with the Seattle Seahawks.

Saints coach Sean Payton identified cornerback as the team's top position of need this offseason, and the Saints wasted little time bringing in both Browner and Green Bay Packers cornerback Tramon Williams for visits once free agency started. It's unclear if the Saints are still interested in signing Williams, who was back home mulling his options Thursday, according to a source.

The Saints also targeted Browner when he was a free agent last year before he chose to sign with New England. Browner became available again because the Patriots declined to pick up a $2 million roster bonus he was due this week.

The Saints have coveted longer, more physical cornerbacks in recent years -- but they don't have any proven veterans quite like Browner, who is often used to jam receivers. The downside of that is that Browner was flagged for a total of 14 interference/contact rules last year in just 12 games played in the regular season and playoffs.

Browner proved to be a good asset for the Patriots while serving as the bookend across from Revis. Browner didn't join New England's lineup until Week 7 because of a suspension and an ankle injury. But he became a full-time starter from that point on, finishing with one interception and eight pass defenses, including the playoffs.

Browner thanked the Patriots in a tweet after signing in New Orleans.

Browner's suspension was for repeated violations of the NFL's substance-abuse policy, and it actually began late in the 2013 season, keeping him sidelined for Seattle's playoff run.

Browner has 11 interceptions and 47 pass breakups, including the playoffs, during his four-year NFL career. He originally entered the league as an undrafted free agent with the Denver Broncos in 2005, then he spent four years with the Calgary Stampeders before returning with his Pro Bowl season in Seattle.

Cornerback was one of the Saints' most turbulent positions last season as they rotated three different players into the No. 2 corner spot and finished 31st in the NFL in yards allowed. Top cornerback Keenan Lewis was arguably the defense's most valuable player, though he recently threatened to hold out of organized team activities and minicamp if the final three years of his contract aren't guaranteed. Lewis said he's not feeling happy or secure with the Saints shipping so many players out of town.

The Saints also traded tight end Jimmy Graham and released linebacker Curtis Lofton and running back Pierre Thomas, with more moves possible.

Humber, 27, has been a core special-teams player and backup linebacker for the Saints since they signed him during the 2010 season. His greatest value is on special teams, where he was elected a captain last year. He has also started a total of 13 games, including the playoffs, at both inside and outside linebacker.

The 5-11, 232-pounder had a career-high six starts and a career-high 50 tackles last year while often lining up as an outside linebacker in run-defense packages.

Related Video