C Brown amidst a murky situation in Baltimore (View Images)
During the process of identifying the Buffalo Bills' biggest positional needs, the Buffalo Rumblings community nearly unanimously listed a pass-rushing defensive end as the one spot where the Bills most desperately needed an upgrade. Tight end, center and linebacker closely followed. We have already begun the process of profiling potential Bills free agents; for reference now and in the future, all of these profiles will be available at this link.
With the NFL's free agent signing period set to begin less than one month from today (midnight on February 27), we here at Rumblings are now starting the process of profiling several top-notch free agents that the community has identified as worthy of donning the red, white and blue in 2009. Buffalo's need at center is as dire as their need at any other position; the only debatable topic is whether or not the position is as important as others where attention is needed. Wherever you may stand on that topic, Ravens C Jason Brown has to be an intriguing free agent option simply because he's a solid player at an area in need of a serious upgrade. Joining us once again is Rexx, head blogger at Baltimore Beatdown, to discuss another big-name Ravens free agent. Joining Rexx from the Beatdown, however, is math_geek, who joined us in yesterday's discussion of DE Terrell Suggs and offered up some solid opinions on Brown's impending free agency as well.
Age 26 at start of 2009 season
6'3", 320 pounds
4-year NFL veteran out of North Carolina
On Baltimore's potential interest in re-signing him
Rexx: "He is one of the top two or three Ravens priorities to re-sign and I fully expect him to be over the ball in 2009."
math_geek: "They really do want to sign Brown, but don’t like signing interior offensive lineman to large contracts. It’s not clear what they think of Chris Chester, a second round pick in 2006 who everyone assumed to be a bust, until Marshall Yanda was injured and Chester took his spot at RG and played well. They also drafted Oniel Cousins and David Hale. Chester, Yanda, and Hale have all taken snaps at center in practices."
On Brown's playing abilities
Rexx: "Brown is the centerpiece of the Ravens offensive line. At just 25 years old, he is the veteran of the group, other than former Cincinnati OT Willie Anderson, whose status is undecided for 2009. Brown has a nasty streak in him and therefore has the size and ability to fight off the tough nose tackles that he faces each week. He, along with his mates, were a huge reason that rookie QB Joe Flacco had the time to find his receivers and enjoy a great first year."
math_geek: "Top 3 center? Not really. I mean, it’s hard to say, but Jared Gaither, Ben Grubbs, and Marshall Yanda have all gotten a bunch of accolades, and our offensive line isn’t that good. Jason Brown is a good center, and some guys like Dr. Z love him, but he doesn’t remind me of the dominant centers such as Matt Birk or Jeff Saturday."
Does Brown "Fit the Bill"?
Baltimore's offense has not been dominant over the past couple of years, but it has been efficient, particularly in the running game. There's a reason that converted FB Le'Ron McClain had a good season despite the limitations imposed on the offense as Flacco was brought along. Brown - chosen two picks after current Bills center (and much-maligned athlete) Duke Preston in the 2005 draft - has been a stabilizing force at the pivot during that two-year stretch.
Brown is an intriguing option because he's young and comes from an offense built for the power running game. Coming out of the AFC North, Brown is used to handling nose tackles, dealing with Pittsburgh's Casey Hampton and Cleveland's Shaun Rogers twice per season. Buffalo needs a center that can stand up to the AFC East's dominant nose tackles (Vince Wilfork, Kris Jenkins and Jason Ferguson); Brown is that type of player. He's also not so well-known that he'd demand big dollars on the open market like a Matt Birk or Jeff Saturday would.
As Rexx alluded to, Brown is going to be a priority free agent in Baltimore, but the Ravens have at least three such players on the roster - and they've got a franchise tag to use. Center salaries aren't exactly through the roof throughout the league, so it's not inconceivable that Brown gets tagged. But of the Ravens' "big three" free agents, Brown is undoubtedly a lower priority than Ray Lewis and Terrell Suggs. If the Bills want to go after a Ravens free agent that would fit perfectly in Buffalo, Brown seems like the most logical choice.
Any thoughts on Brown you'd like to add? Yay or nay to Brown potentially becoming a Bill? What do you expect his price tag to be? Do you believe there will be interest out of One Bills Drive for Brown's services? Let's get cracking, folks. For the record, Brown is one of four players I think the Bills should be aggressive in pursuing when free agency opens. You?