One turned 36 on Wednesday and will not be returning to the Bears.
The other reached 30 on the same day, and his future remains very much up in the air.
Both had their 2007 seasons ended by injury. Both still want to play football.
``It was great,’’ the elder Ruben Brown said Thursday afternoon. ``I got a call yesterday from Mike [Brown] and he wished me a happy birthday. It was his birthday too. Man, I hope they bring him back. He’s such good person on and off the field.’’
The Bears are expected to wrap up their organizational meetings today at Halas Hall, and the decisions reached will shape the offseason. General manager Jerry Angelo said last month he couldn’t count on Mike Brown, the safety, for 2008 after he’s missed 43 of the last 64 regular-season games. He didn’t say Mike Brown, who has one year remaining on his contract, was out of his plans.
Their injuries were only part of a series of health issues that marred the Bears’ 2007 season. Mike Brown was lost in the season opener at San Diego when he tore the ACL in his left knee. Ruben Brown was lost after eight games when he succumbed to a right shoulder injury.
``I’m feeling great,’’ Ruben Brown said, now three months removed from surgery. ``I’ve got my own gym out here [in Buffalo] where I work out and I’m pretty much just waiting for something to happen. I’m excited.’’
Free agency opens at 11 p.m. on Feb. 28, and Ruben Brown is headed to the open market, but the action has already started.
Nope, guard Mike Wahle will not be coming to the Bears, who figure to be in the market for a replacement for Ruben Brown. Wahle rejoined forces with Mike Holmgren in Seattle, it was reported Thursday afternoon, and could fill a void the Seahawks have had since Minnesota signed away All-Pro left guard Steve Hutchinson in 2006. Wahle was originally drafted by Green Bay when Holmgren was still there, and at 30 he wouldn’t help the Bears’ desire to get younger on the line.
Meanwhile, a league source revealed early this evening the Bears had yet to respond to wide receiver Marty Booker, who said Tuesday he is interested in coming back. Interest remains strong in Booker. Minnesota, New England and Tennessee are projected as possible suitors, and perhaps also Dallas. More veterans are joining Booker on the street. Miami is severing ties with seven-time Pro Bowl linebacker Zach Thomas. Wide receiver Peerless Price has been dumped in Buffalo for a second time. The Bears figure to be casting off a few players of their own soon.
It’s good business to keep a player until you have a replacement on hand, but teams generally respect veterans not in their plans and release them early as a measure of respect. It’s much easier to job search in late February than it is late May. Defensive tackle Darwin Walker is expected to be let go with a $5.2 million roster bonus due in just more than three weeks. There’s nothing promising right tackle Fred Miller he will return with a $500,000 roster bonus due and base pay of $4 million.
All the while, players the Bears might have had interest in are being scooped up. Running back Justin Fargas re-upped in Oakland and Carolina agreed to terms with right tackle Travelle Wharton.
Brace yourself. Free agency will be in full gear in two weeks and two hours.