Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Former Dolphins RB Ronnie Brown flies to Eagles

After six seasons with the Miami Dolphins, Pro Bowl running back Ronnie Brown has signed a one-year deal with the Philadelphia Eagles as a free agent.

According to the Miami Herald's Jeff Darlington, Brown had narrowed his choices down to four teams—the Chargers, Eagles, Rams, and Ravens—and took the least money offered to sign with Philadelphia. Per Darlington, the Dolphins never contact Brown after the lockout lifted.

The Eagles have been extremely aggressive this offseason, adding such talents as quarterback Vince Young, defensive tackle Cullen Jenkins, and cornerbacks Nnamdi Asomugha and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie.

Now 29, Brown leaves the Dolphins as one of the most prolific running backs in franchise history. The second-overall pick in 2005 out of Auburn currently ranks third all-time in both rushing yards and rushing touchdowns behind Larry Csonka and Ricky Williams, while also placing fourth among the team's running backs in receiving yards.

Under head coach Cam Cameron in 2007, Brown led the league in yards from scrimmage seven weeks into the season before a torn ACL prematurely ended that campaign.

Brown was also the key component of the wildcat formation that took the league by storm in 2008, setting a modern-day record by rushing for four touchdowns and throwing for another in its debut against the New England Patriots in Week 3. That year would prove to be the lone Pro Bowl season of Browns' career in Miami.

In Philadelphia, Brown will serve as insurance and likely the top backup to starter LeSean McCoy, ahead of rookie fifth-round pick Dion Lewis. Brown will reportedly earn $1 million in base salary, but will have the opportunity to add more through incentives.

For me personally, it's sad to see Brown go, as I am not only a Dolphins fan but an Auburn fan as well. Despite sharing the load with Cadillac Williams in college, Brown was clearly the better back and I was ecstatic when the team selected him in the first round back in 2005.

I would hardly say Brown was a disappointment in Miami, even if he never put up the elite running back numbers you'd expect from a No. 2 overall pick. The 2005 draft class was notoriously week, and Brown was a worthy selection that filled a great need at the time.

Splitting time with Williams benefited him greatly but limited his total numbers, as did the numerous freak injuries he suffered, such as the broken hand suffered when his hand got caught in an opponent's helmet in 2006 or the torn ACL trying to tackle a defender on an interception in 2007. (Blame Cleo Lemon for that one.)

It's sad to see Brown go, and I truly believe he still has a few years left as a starting-caliber running back in the NFL. That being said, I can fully understand why an organization wouldn't want to give him a big multi-year deal given his injury history as he approaches 30.

The Dolphins did a good job retooling the backfield this offseason with second-rounder Daniel Thomas and the versatile Reggie Bush.

As for Brown, he'll certainly have the chance to play for a winner in Philadelphia. He'll also have the opportunity to show the Dolphins just what they're missing, as the Eagles come to Miami for a late-season battle in Dec. 11.

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