Chicago Sun-Times

Angelo on a Mike Brown return: "I don't see that right now"

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Jerry Angelo has all but counted out Mike Brown before and the popular veteran safety returned to the Bears anyway.

Well, the general manager sounds like he's counting out Brown again. The difference this time is that Brown is no longer under contract to the club and will be an unrestricted free agent beginning Feb. 27. It was in his end-of-season address a year ago that Angelo said the Bears couldn't count on the often-injured leader. Yet he returned for a ninth season with the franchise. Getting to a 10th year will be more challenging.

"I don't see that right now,'' Angelo told the Tribune's Dan Pompei. "Given how it affects Danieal [Manning]. Allocation of money comes into play, too, in what we want to do at other positions. There could be a case where we want Mike back, but we can't afford to do it given what we want to do in other areas.''

Most expect Brown played his final game as a Bear on Dec. 22 against Green Bay when his recurring calf muscle injury forced him out and landed him on injured reserve for the fourth time in five years. Brown finished fourth on the team with 101 tackles and was more productive when he was moved to strong safety in the middle of the season. What turned things around ultimately for Brown last offseason was a contract restructuring. He earned all $2.44 million he was schedule to receive but only by hitting play-time incentives. Safety has been an issue for the Bears for several years. It was breakdowns at safety that ultimately cost the team in Super Bowl XLI. Brown missed the final 10 games of that season and the postseason run.

But if the Bears bring back Brown, they set themselves up for the same kind of issues they've been trying to defeat in recent years. When you count on Brown and he cannot deliver, there's a void that cannot be filled. There are some young players in the mix but none of them have been outstanding. Kevin Payne and Craig Steltz are viewed strictly as strong safeties even though Payne played at free. Danieal Manning has the physical tools to play safety but has been moved so much that you can't help but wonder what you'll get. He blew an assignment in the season-ending loss at Houston. He played best as a nickel back last year.

"When we brought Mike Brown back, I felt that hurt Danieal,'' Angelo told Pompei. "We had Mike at free. We liked what we saw in Payne in OTA's at strong safety, having a bigger body. We felt our best package was with Mike and Kevin. Saying that, we wanted to create a spot for Danieal. That's where the nickel came in. He had all the traits to do it. Our thinking was let's get our best [players] on the field. He started to impact us in the latter part of the season with his athleticism and because he is a tough guy. We certainly have to define what his role is going to be. We're a better team with him on the field.

Looks like Angelo believes the Bears will ultimately be better off moving forward without Brown. A final determination will probably be made in the organizational meetings which should begin after the Senior Bowl this week. With or without Brown, you can slide safety in the need list for the Bears' offseason.

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37 Comments

love the guys passion and contribution over the years.. sadly i think angelo is right on this one.. time to move on and get a solid hitter at the safety position.. just look at the steelers with palamalu and clark and their defense is scary good and favored to win it all... nuff said!!

Manning is a mental midget.... how many times do we have to watch him blow coverage? The guy can run, he's fast, keep him on returns. My Gawd, Angelo truly has no clue!

Replace him with Peanut, move Graham to Peanut's spot, Mcbride on the other side, cut or trade Vasher, and draft another corner!! Pick up Peppers and cut Wale, too!!!

Sadly the Mike Brown era is over. It's probably a good thing becasue of his history of not being able to finish a season since Lovie became the head coach.

The Bears have to move forward without Borwn, spend some money to upgrade the FS position. It would be cool if Lovie sits down with Brown and has a heart to heart with him, advise him that his body is done with football and coax him into retirement so he can join the staff as an assitant DB coach or assitant to the DC which in reality, is Lovie himself.

Tripper, Peanut moving to FS would be a solid move and would porlong his career, but McBride isn't starter material. He is a solid backup who has played well in spot starts but ultimately, Graham and either Zac Bowman would be the starting tandem unless Angelo spends some money on a solid FA CB instead of FS this off-season.....

Wouldn't mind seeing Angelo spending some large cabbage on a plyer like Nnamdi Asomugha, or perhaps lesser money on some FA CB's like Dunta Robinson whom our new DB coach Hokie coached at Houston, maybe a player like Phillip Buchanon, Chris Gamble, Kelvin Hayden ect.... ect.... ect....

GO Bears !!

I agree with everything Chris says above. Mike Brown is a true Chicago Bear. A real warrior. Does Angelo really think he has 53 players who are better than Mike Brown? Come on, man. Manning is a special teams guy, period. I'll take Brown over Payne or Steltz anyday, too. As far as allocation of money, find a way, Jerry. It's your job. But keep Mike Brown on the team! As the strong safety. Go out and find a free safety.

i dont belive mc bride is ready for anything D.manning can be good but not a free or strong saftey.moving tillman to saftey is a mistake too hes a better cb.we need his size and strenght to deal with the fitzgeralds and T.O's of the leauge.Draft or pick up a good saftey sign a good pass rusher and vasher just had a bad year.dont get rid of vasher if we had a good pass rush he b the int mach he was.the whole def needs revamped.

I love Mike Brown to death but come on people. It's time to move on. Draft a big time hitter and see how much it improves the D. I only wish that Taylor Mays had decided to come out, but this is one position the team should draft somewhere every year.

What has Angelo seen that makes him want Manning to start at FS? He has been there before, and it hasn't been pretty. What has this team got against good kick returners? It's an important position, just leave him there!

bring him back ONLY if he takes a pay cut...you bring in a free agent SS if brown leaves(payne needs to get better at tackling to be my starter period)...you draft a FS...you keep manning at nickel and tillman at corner. you dont strengthen one position by weakning another one..especially when tillman has never played the position...vasher's cap number is low and you dont have any proven depth at CB...so unless you can get some value for him in a trade(and by value i mean 3rd-4th round pick) he stays put...

i love mike brown...and i would love to have him back but they need a plan A and AA for him if they bring him back...they HAVE to have proven saftey depth

stelz needs to get bigger...if he wants to run support...he plays the ball well...and is not exceptionally slow(im not sure why he doesnt play FS)

mcgowan needs to go...

payne needs to learn how to wrap up and tackle...and not just got for the kill shot before he McGahee's his own player

and manning needs to stay at nickel...its the ONLY defensive position he's done consistently well

Tough call. Brown still has some tread on his tires, and has always raised the level of play from the players around him. But his days as a player are numbered. If you don't bring younger players along, you eventually get old and lose.

My guess is they let him go and he winds up helping somebody next year, then retires. Teams like New England always seem to have room for players like Brown and get production out of them.

I wish he could step in and coach.

I say the fella should retire, and I wish he was to have been offered a position on the coaching staff, but... I think his heart is in the right spot but his body is toooooo mangled. Either sign Asamougha, or draft a killer replacement, but, personally don't spend too much time on the position for you do in fact have enough talent to shuffle around the field. More focus should go towards a WR and another RB to create a baheimouth offense. Love Browns contributions and respect his love for the game, but when your body is in this much jeopardy now, think of how it could be 10-20 years from now. Call is a day, (born a cub, die a Bear)! Go Bears!!

IF Mike Brown decides not to retire and catch on with another team, I see him going the route A la Rodney Harrison ....Harrison was cut by San Diego some years back, due to the feeling that he couldn't play or stay healthy anymore....Harrison was then picked up by New England and played at an all-pro level for some years after that...

IF the Bears let Brown go on his way, they will have officially lost their mind--at least give the man an offer and see if he can compete in ota's and preseason--or at least an offer that MAY be comparable to another team--he wants to be here, and I bet 10 other guys on the Bears defensive side of the ball agree

I say we give Kyle Orton another shot at QB no question. With that said the WR positions will certainly have to be addressed. There are a couple ways this can be done. First option is move Greg Olsen to 2WR then search for number 1-2 WR thru free agency aggressively and see whats out there. The cubs couldnt count on mark prior or kerry wood for years to be starting impact players so lets not torture ourselves with Hester being the number 1 WR going into next season. I think given the right circumstance Hester can be a number 1 reciever but at what cost? With moving Olsen enables Clark to get more tick and also gives way to the TE of the future Kellen Davis. This guy is huge and has good hands he can definetly make more of an impact in the blocking game aswell which will help Forte in the running game. For the draft we have to draft a safety, Defensive end, WR , and a QB.Another running back to add depth then like always draft the best players. This is a solution to some question marks to put together a solid enough team to have some success. Chris Williams needs to make a positive impact right away. At this point we need to address the o-line thru free agency or via trade.

I say put Hester back at corner, Tillman at safety, Graham at the other corner, Payne or Mcgowen at the other safety, and Rasheed Davis at nickel. These ex-DB's turned WR's should go back to being DB's. You know what they say, players play defensive back because they can't catch like a WR.

Angelo is a fool. Manning is not a starting safety. PERIOD. The one prop (defensively) you have to give Manning is that he is an EXCELLENT blitzer. Probably the best on the Bears. He's good coming after the QB but that's about it on defense.

That said he's worth keeping around for special teams value and for blitzing the QB. That's it.

Time marches on this is a buisness and it's not a good buisness decision to keep him.I think that is one thing the bears have been guilty of is keeping some players to long . Pittsbugh does not seem to have a problem with letting go and they seem to stay in the top end deffensivly every year. Remember to be a consistant winner you sometimes have to make the tough calls , and I would like to see some more trophies so thanks mike brown but next.

Out with the old, in with the new!!!! The Bears should cut or trade everyone over 30. We need youth and passion to be back where we should be!!!!!!

Mike Brown was one of just three guys on the defensive side of the ball that even lookedlike they were playing something resembling the kind of football Chicago Bears fans want.There really is a very simple explanation for it to.......Mike Brown knows what its like to have your career in doubt, to know you may never play the game again. He missed out on a chance to play in the Super Bowl and unlike his teammates he knew he may never get another opportunity to play in one. While his teammates complained about their salaries and the organization Mike Brown tried to get past the string of injuries that have plagued him. Did they slow him down this year.......yeah probably, but did he let them keep him from playing the game the right way......no.
The fact is the Bears have no one on their roster right now that is better than him. Payne, Manning, Steltz or McGowan don't make plays in the secondary and they sure as heck don't scare the other team.
That being said I understand that Angelo would be crazy to count on Brown. But why not bring him back for less money? He is better than anything on that roster now......and one of the 3 best players on the defense. Angello will still need to get another safety somehow......Payne and Manning do not cut it for me........they are not Polamalu, Sanders or even Mike Brown. If Brown can't go then Payne and Manning can fill in as backups......but they have no business being anything other than nickel and dime backs. And yes I know the Bears do not employ a dime package but here's hoping this is one of those tweaks Lovie makes to the D.
Bear Down!

Chicago needs a free safety even if Mike Brown does return, which sounds unlikely. I like Danieal Manning, he certainly has all the physical attributes to play free safety. As a rookie Manning might have been in a little over his head mentally, and coming from tiny Abilene Christian college, it was to be expected. Swaping Manning from safety, to corner, back to safety, and then to nickle, hasn't exactly helped him develop at safety, or any other position for that matter, but Manning did look good at nickle, this might be where he ultimately ends up. Although, to me, it does sound like Angelo might give Manning another shot at free safety, I say go for it, but still bring in another safety for insurance.

In the draft I would love to see the Bears land Missouri's William Moore, but Moore might not be there at #18. I also like Alabama free safety Rashad Johnson, who is currently rated a 2nd rounder, but this could change with a big senior bowl and combine. Maybe Johnson moves up the draft boards and Chicago could land him at #18, it could happen. Remember, last year before the senior bowl and combine, Matt Forte was rated as a 3rd to 4th round prospect, even on draft day many teams still felt he was still a 3rd rounder, and Chicago reached for him in the second. I can see this happening with Johnson this season, with a big senior bowl and combine, he could shoot up draft boards, much like Forte did last year, and the Bears could land him in the first GO BEARS!!

Adios, Browny!! He should be cut!! He is out of shape!! If someone was in professional football shape he would not keep getting these calf, hammy, other leg muscle type injuries every year!! Goodbye!! He's like the greatest employee of all time that keeps calling in sick!!! He is useless!!

Hate to see him go, but there is no way I would fault Angelo for having to move in a different direction. We lose a ton of experience and savvy, but we weren't getting much of that the last 4 years. Mike Brown will always be one of my favorite Bear players, and regardless of where he goes, he will always be a Bear.

Good luck to him, and thanks for the great memories! I will always look back at the back to back overtime wins that he sealed, and see that as the most exciting 2 game stretch I had seen since the playoff shutouts of the Giants and Rams in 86...

i hope mike brown ends up playing for a tom-brady engineered patriots team so he can actually win something. poor guy's talent has been overdrawn and wasted with the bears' pathetic player development and offenses over the years. he deserves better.

So Angelo wants to replace Brown with Manning. The smartest guy on defesne for the dumbest guy on defense. Oh this should work well. Manning sucks at free saftie and who is going to tell Kevin Payne were to go and what do?

Oh man I read that whole interview, Angelo the brain trust has returned in full force. He also feels the front four are good enough to apply pressure on a consistant basis. One question who is playing nose tackle? Make two does he even know who his front four are? There cutting money on defense and it's not to bring in Peppers.

Mike Brown is the leader of the defense and Angelo is going to cut him to give his boy Manning a shot and Tommie Harris gets a 7 million dollar bonus. Nice. What Angelo say about Harris, "he played the third most amount of time of the front four. Ummm corrent me if I am wrong but comming in third out of four guys is not good. Not to mention Dusty got hurt or Harris would have come in last.

So to conclude, Harris who played like garbage, comes in 3rd in downs played out of four guys, is injury prone, breaking down, has to have every wendsday off and then some from practice, gets a 7 million dollar bonus.

Mike Brown the leader of the defense and smartest guy on the team, is injury prone, played in 15 games, is being cut to give Manning the moron the FS gig after not earning it, cause he is an Angelo draft pick.

The Bears are digging there grave. This is poor managment at its best. Harris you get a bonus even though you got suspended and played like garbage. Manning you get the starting FS gig even though you are an idiot and have not earned. Mike you get cut cause two of Angelos idiots need something and you put to much effort and heart into the Bears.

I could understand it if they said Mike we are gonna bring in a FS via free agency cause of your age and injury issues. But to promote Manning and give Harris a bonus. Thats one of the worst moves I have seen Angelo do.

Hadji you have no clue dude, none. Mike Brown is not in shape? You are an idiot and you have never played football. I suppose every guy who gets hurt in the NFL is out of shape. Which means all of them. He was the best Saftie we had, and we are replacing him with an idiot. Which is probably why you are excited.

Creighton, this may be the first time I 100% agree with you. Getting rid of Mike Brown is going to leave a HUGE void. He is the leader of the defense period. He makes a huge difference when he's on the field. I can see letting him go, because of his inury history, but we need to have someone in place to replace him in leadership and football smarts and right now we don't have that person on the team. I wouldn't mind if we even cut Manning. He seems to be worthless on defense. Keep him around to return kicks maybe, but that's it. I can't believe Angelo even gave a crap that keeping Brown may have hindered Manning. Let's see, keep a great player and leader or let a guy who consistently blows coverages try to develop. Angelo, you definitely got this one wrong. Please bring in another safety!

Angelo sounds certain of Vasher as well. According to ESPN.com As for Vasher, Angelo said:

"He really hasn't played in two years, so he needs to redefine himself, starting in the off-season. He has to earn a spot on our team. He has to show he can be a starter, somebody we can depend on. We rewarded a very good player. He earned a new contract. But since then he has had some injuries, and when he has played, his play hasn't been up to his standards, I'm sure, and certainly our standards."

So I wonder what will happen to both players. I honestly hope that Brown retires and if possible trade Vasher for someone valuable and durable.

This should be something both the team and Mike Brown decide, its strange in that all the fans see how valuable a player he is, but Angelo seems to discount this, it can't be a money issue because we do not even know how much it would cost to bring Mike back. Yes, he has injuries but he is a team leader this must be handled correctly so as to not cause any problems or dissension in the locker room. I do not see Manning being able to take the spot so we would have to replace him through the draft, I'm not sure there is a FA out there who could come in an demand the respect a player would need to have to replace Mike's Leadership. I hope this is just an negotiating tool by Angelo to get Mike to come back at his price, and use him in spot situations until we really have a solid replacement. I also agree with Creighton, Hadji injuries are part of the game leg injuries come when you play hard on everydown from fatigue, they do not mean you are not in shape, playing defense is all out on every play, plus you can't afford to take a bad step which make it that much harder to recover. Most Pro player are injured and still playing; Mike as a safety needs his legs to cover his spot, and recently they have failed him....Still the Best Safety to ever wear a Bears uniform....I sure hope they work this out, because he should be here until he retires.....

Creighton and Chitown I have to agree with you this one looks bad on Angelo's part. Mike Brown is the Chicago Bears, and it is sad when Jerry is actually concerned with Mike coming back because it would affect Daniel Manning. What a joke. In no way shape or form has Manning shown any capability to handle that free safety spot. And on top of that he continues to not show the mental skill's to lead the secondary either. I like a lot of what Jerry does as our G.M. but you guys are right that he seems to care at times more about his draft picks than what gives the Bears the best players on the field. Mike should be the one that decides if and when to retire, and until then Angelo should be hoping that he stays one more time, season after season. If anything Mike plays better at strong safety so Manning should have to compete at the free spot with whoever we take early in the draft. If Manning can't beat out a draft pick like say William Moore, than why in the heck would he ever be able to compete with Mike Brown. This really is a sad state for us Bear fan's. GO BEARS!!

Good luck Mike, we'll miss you! This is a very good move, probably a year late, but still good. The Bears can't survive with SS types playing FS anymore. Brown's range is sorely lacking, with Payne being younger and more athletic his days were certainly numbered. Look for JA to sign a FS in free-agency, and possibly draft one as well to sure up the position.

So Angelo really expects to replace one of the hardest hitting safeties in the league, one of the smartest safeties to play the game, the heart, soul, and emotional leader of our defense with Danieal Manning?

First off, Mike Brown should be playing strong safety with Kevine Payne as a solid back up. Payne can lay wood but he hits with his head down, doesnt wrap up and has laid wood to our own players. Mike Brown makes great plays on the ball, (doesnt always go for the hit like Payne) a ball hawk, one of the best run support safeties in the league, and a true leader.

Then we should draft a FS on the first day to compete with Manning for the starting position. If Manning does not win the job then keep him at nickel!


Dear Angelo,

How do you expect to just replace Mike Brown with a player that is already on our roster? He is irreplaceable as far as I am concerned. There may not be a safety in the league that can replace his smarts on the field! I know we cannot rely on him to make it through a full season and that is why you need to add depth! Trade Vash for a 3rd or 4th round pick, frees up allot of money, resign big Mike to an incentive laden contract and draft a FS on the first day and maybe even another in the late rounds.

Please dont let your own draft picks blind your decision for this franchise! Manning has not proven to be an all-pro safety... Mike Brown is!

You say you want the best players on the field? Well then bring back the best safety to ever wear a bears uniform! Mike Brown is a bear for life! Money should not be an issue with an incentive laden contract and its a win win situation cause M. Brown makes peanuts compared to what he gives us on the field.

Creighton....you are the idiot..for your information I did play football in high school, basketball in college and I am now a licenced physical therapist so I think I know a little bit about sports injuries!!! I'm talking muscle pulls and other muscle injuries are preventable and treatable if you are in good condition and do alot of stretching. Mr. Payton never missed because of a "calf" injury!!!! Brown does.....ALOT!!!!

Creighton, I don't think Jerry Angelo is going to just hand Danieal Manning the starting free safety job like you think. Angelo never once said "Manning will be our starter at free safety for 2009," if you read the entire article, you will go on to read that Angelo also says, "we certainly have to define what his role is going to be. We're a better team with him on the field." Now, to me, that doesn't sound like Angelo is dead set on Manning as the starting free safety for 2009. I agree, he will probably get a shot, but I don't think Angelo is as set on him as the starting free safety as you think. Look for Angelo to bring in a free safety via free agency or the draft.

Creighton, Im as big of a Mike Brown fan as the next Bear fan, but you have to take a couple things into consideration as far as Angelo's decision to move on. First of all, Mike Brown isn't getting any younger, next season will be his 10th season, this isn't gonna help Brown become any more durable. Mike Brown can no longer help the Bears at free safety, the position the Bears need the most help at. Chicago already has Kevin Payne, Payne is only a 3 year vet, and is a very good strong safety, if you remember, Payne was leading the Bears in tackles when he was at strong safety before the Bears moved him mid season. With Payne and Steltz, the Bears are set at strong safety, now they need a free safety. Chicago has Manning, Creighton, Im not in any way shape or form saying Manning is better than Brown, but Manning is more athletic than Brown, and would be a better fit at free safety than Brown would, and again, Chicago needs help at free safety. I like Mike Brown, but with his age, durability concerns, and the fact the Bears already have Kein Payne, a good strong safety as proved with Payne leading the team in tackles when he was at strong safety earlier in the season, it might be time to move on. GO BEARS!!

"you dont strengthen one position by weakning another one..especially when tillman has never played the position."


Tillam played safety in college, he entered the draft as a safety. He was converted to CB his rookie year under Jauron and Blach's watch. Blach even said he was so impressed with Tillman that he was sure that he could become a probowl safety in the league.

The way our CB's have played the past couple of years, I'd say both CB positions are a weakness right now. Vasher is a FA signing away from being cut. Graham is waiting to take someones place full time. If Angelo adds a FA cover CB when the signing period kicks off, you can be assured Peanut will move to FS by the kick off of OTA's.


GO Bears !!

It's time for some out of the box thinking. The Bears need a safety. Brian Urlacher has proven that he is no longer an elite linebacker, and is now an average linebacker. Brian Urlacher played safety in college. Soooooo ....... move Urlacher to safety. I'm a big Urlacher fan, but the truth is Williams or Hillenmeyer would have been just as good as Urlacher was last year, so moving one of them in won't be a downgrade, but putting Urlacher at safety would be a huge upgrade. This would also allow the Bears to keep Tillman at cb and allow them to focus the draft on other needs besides safety and corner back. At best, the Bears would have a safety with better hands than most dbs, who will scare the be-jesus out of any wr crossing the middle, and who will be killer in run support. It would also probably add a few years to Urlacher's career. Urlacher may not have the ideal speed for the postion anymore, but what use has Manning's speed been when he's always out of position? This might be too radical for a lot of people, but the bottom line is this move certainly wouldn't be worse than the alternative (Manning at safety), and it could potentially be great.

This is heart rendering, though not unexpected. Mike Brown has been my favorite Bear for the past eight seasons. In the only fan letter I've ever written, I urged him last offseason to retire due to his physical problems and get into coaching. Brown has the attitude, leadership, and intelligence to be a great coach, and the Bears should be offering him a player/coach position while fixing the safety positions (no, not with Manning, he's strictly a nickel back and returner). Instead, the Bears are threatening to get rid of a guy who exemplifies Bear football and who's been a team leader, quarterback of the defensive backfield, ball hawk, hard hitter, and game-changing impact player. Those who don't learn from their mistakes repeat them, and it looks like the Bears learned nothing from their idiotic handling of Thomas Jones, who should still be a Bear.

Angelo did the same thing with Jones/ Benson and we all know how that turned out. Manning is his draftee. This is what coach has to live with.

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