One day after being promoted off the practice squad, rookie safety Sergio Brown was one of the unsung performers in the Patriots’ 23-20 win over the Chargers on Sunday.
His third-down tackle on Antonio Gates on the Chargers’ final drive was one of the plays of the game, although it wasn’t his only one. In addition to playing on the "Big 4" special teams units, he finished with four tackles and played two different roles as part of the nickel (5 defensive backs) and dime (6 defensive backs) packages.
“I think it’s a great example of all our players to be ready to go. You never know when you will get that opportunity,” coach Bill Belichick said Tuesday.
“That’s the kind of thing you need to have a good team, players that are unselfish like that and when their opportunity comes they are able to step in and deliver for the rest of the team. Sergio did that.”
Brown had joined the team as a free agent after going undrafted, the Patriots giving him a $12,500 signing bonus, which reflected his standing as a “priority” free agent.
Brown didn’t make the team out of training camp, but was quickly signed to the practice squad. On Oct. 5, the Patriots had boosted his salary from $88,400 to $250,000, a sign that he was improving and perhaps that another team was interested in him.
When he was signed to the active roster Saturday, it was a four-year deal (through 2013) that included a $38,835 signing bonus. The base salaries are $320,000 in 2010, $405,000 in 2011, $490,000 in 2012 and $575,000 in 2013. The base salary in 2013 can increase as there is an escalator in the deal.
By signing the four-year deal, which is a longer term that the norm for a practice squad promotion, Brown sacrifices the possibility of signing a offer sheet with another team as a restricted free agent in 2013 (should free-agency rules revert to what they were in the event a salary cap returns in 2011).
Director of Player Personnel Nick Caserio explained what the team initially saw in Brown in the scouting process.
"He's a big guy, with good size (6-2, 210), good straight-line speed and he's a good tackler," he said. "He played both safety and a lot of the nickel (cornerback) position, so he has a little position flexibility, and he played in the kicking game as well. He's made the most of the opportunities to this point."