Four-year veteran Chris Brown, the top tailback still available in the unrestricted free agent market, reached agreement in principle on a one-year, $1.8 million deal on Monday afternoon to return to the Tennessee Titans, the team with which he has played his entire career.
Brown had narrowed his choices last week to the Titans and Chicago Bears, and had indicated that a decision was imminent
The contract proposals for Brown were said to be similar, but the opportunities with the two franchises were not. With his return to the Titans, the four-year veteran immediately becomes the odds-on favorite to reclaim the starting job he lost to the now-departed Travis Henry in 2006.
The Titans aren't very deep at tailback, certainly can't count on second-year pro LenDale White to seize the opportunity that's been presented to him, and are familiar with Brown and his upright running style. The former Colorado star had a 1,000-yard season in 2004, registered 1,918 rushing yards in 2004-05, and likes working with Tennessee coach Jeff Fisher.
In 42 games, including 28 starts, Brown carried 541 times for 2,295 yards and 11 touchdowns. Brown, a third-round choice in the 2003 draft, rushed for a career-best 1,067 yards in just 11 appearances in 2004.
In his native Chicago, where he still has some family, Brown would have been behind presumptive starter Cedric Benson on the depth chart, and would taken the place of Thomas Jones, who was traded to the New York Jets this spring. He definitely would have gotten carries in the share-the-workload system favored by Bears coach Lovie Smith, and might have had a chance for a Super Bowl appearance.
But the chance to be a starter again in Tennessee, to re-establish himself in the league and then go back into free agency next spring, was the factor that most worked in favor of the Titans.
Brown was also courted to varying degrees by Indianapolis, New England and Green Bay.
Senior writer Len Pasquarelli covers the NFL for ESPN.com