Titans Help RB Depth Situation by Re-signing Chris Brown

Chris Brown, the six foot three inch, 220-pound Illinois native running back who lost his starting job to Travis Henry last season, has agreed to a one-year deal bringing him back to the Tennessee Titans.

Brown, who found himself on the bench watching Henry rush for over 1,200 yards in 2006, spent the offseason visiting with other teams and had his choices down to his hometown Chicago Bears and Tennessee. Agent Ryan Morgan said the Titans offer an opportunity.

“I wouldn’t have necessarily predicted this when the free agency period started,” Morgan said Monday. “But we’re constantly evaluating things. It really comes down to opportunity, and we’re hoping Chris can go in there and compete and contribute.”

The deal includes performance incentives for the four-year veteran who has almost 2,300 yards rushing in his career, 10th all-time in team history. He was a third-round draft pick out of Colorado in 2003.

Brown, who was in Nashville on Monday helping hand out free shoes at a homeless shelter, could be signed and take part in the Titans’ final minicamp starting Tuesday.

The Titans found themselves needing an experienced running back when LenDale White, the 45th-pick overall in 2005, came into the offseason program overweight. The former Southern Cal running back has struggled with a hamstring problem and spent several days in minicamps working on rehab on the sidelines.

Tennessee also used another second-round draft pick on the position in April, selecting Chris Henry of Arizona at No. 50 overall.

Brown started three of the first four games in 2006 and wound up playing only in five. He rushed for a total of 41 times for 156 yards with his best game coming at Houston on Dec. 10 when he averaged 11 yards on four carries.

The Titans finished 8-8 with the NFL’s fifth-best rushing offense in 2006, and Morgan said they believe Henry took advantage of some of the success the offense started having once Vince Young, who was the NFL’s 2006 Offensive Rookie of the Year, took over as quarterback.

There will be no homecoming this fall for Chris Brown in Chicago. Brown, a free-agent running back with a 1,000-yard season on his NFL resume, passed up a chance to play at home with the Bears. He instead has agreed in principle to return to the Tennessee Titans.

The sides reached agreement Monday morning. The Bears had not shown much interest in Brown early in free-agency but came on late, a source said.

In the end, the Titans offered Brown the familiarity the Bears could not — and possibly more opportunities. The Bears remain committed to Cedric Benson as the workhorse running back and only offered Brown the chance to compete with Adrian Peterson and Garrett Wolfe for the backup job.

In the end, this was the best move for both squads. Brown will likely start in Tennessee due to his experience edge over Chris Henry and LenDale White. I see the versatile Chris Henry being more of a threat than the underachieving, out of shape former USC running back, White. The Bears on the other hand, also will benefit from this decision. With Brown staying in Tennessee, the Bears can focus now on having a solid three back trio for their final roster.

Rookie Garrett Wolfe (Northern Illinois) will have an impact as a speedy third-down weapon out of the backfield catching passes, screens, and running sweeps, along with five year pro Adrian Peterson (Georgia Southern), as the bruiser stepping in for Benson at times. Cedric Benson, coming into his third year as a pro, will have no excuses this time around (with injuries and a contract issue holding him out in prior season).

This golden opportunity will likely pay big dividends for this 225-pound in between the tackles running back, who is going to be the workhorse the Bears have been looking for since the days of Walter Payton and Neal Anderson.

Expect Cedric Benson to answer the call and run for over 1,300 yards, matching the high total of Thomas Jones, the past two seasons. Look for the Bears to regain their strong rushing form and have a balanced attack on offense for coach Lovie Smith. Benson has all the talent in the world and shows a great knack for finding the endzone. It is now or never for the fourt overall pick in the 2005 NFL draft out of Midland, Texas.

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