<
>

Brown and out: Pats can't agree with veteran

New England Patriots wide receiver Troy Brown, who sacrificed incentive bonus money to help out in the injury-depleted secondary, failed to reach a new contract agreement with the team and will become a free agent after midnight on Tuesday.

His contract had an option bonus of $2.5 million due Tuesday along with a $2.5 million base salary. The team wasn't going to pay him $5 million this season for cap reasons so each side was trying to work on the right number.

That didn't happen, so he is available to any other team wanting to sign him. Brown has had a remarkable 12-year career that included a Pro Bowl season in 2001 and several key seasons during the team's run to three Super Bowls in four years.

Brown symbolized the team concept because of his willingness to be good on offense, special teams and defense. He was the Patriots punt returner. The big story this year happened during training camp when he was asked to try the cornerback position.

Injuries to starting cornerbacks Tyrone Poole and Ty Law forced Brown to become the team's nickel cornerback, which he played surprisingly well.

John Clayton is a senior writer for ESPN.com.