Cowboys Free Agent Watch: Center Jason Brown.

Every year I try and fill holes on the Cowboys roster either with a mock draft or with suggestions of free agents. I previously wrote an article titled “Did The Dallas Cowboys Really Improve The Offensive Line?” That article explained that the Dallas Cowboys OL still has many significant needs. One of their biggest needs is a quality center. This article profiles the top candidate still available. Keep in mind, there are rumors that the 49ers, Ravens, Titans and Panthers are also looking at him, so it is a bit unclear whether he has signed anywhere yet. Brown has said that he was taking his time in free agency (FA) to find the best fit for him.

Dec 12, 2011; Seattle, WA, USA; St. Louis Rams center Jason Brown (60) during the game against the Seattle Seahawks at CenturyLink Field. The Seahawks defeated the Rams 30-13. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee/Image of Sport-US PRESSWIRE

Jason Brown C

6-3 320

Experience: 8th season.

5.2  40  26 bench reps ( 2005 pro day)

Brown attended Northern Vance High School in Henderson, North Carolina, He was a good student and a member of the National Honor Society. He was not only a standout in football, but also in track and field. He holds four state championships: three in discus and one for shot put.

Brown didn’t miss a single game during his career at North Carolina. He was named First-team All-ACC in 2004. He first saw action as a freshman at right tackle against Florida State. Brown began his career as a tackle, but was later moved to guard. He was then eventually moved to center where he played the remaining three years of his college career.

Along with Chris Spencer, Brown was considered one of the best centers available in the 2005 NFL Draft. He was projected to go in the middle of the 3rd round, but was eventually selected in the fourth round (124th overall) by the Baltimore Ravens.

After spending 2005 and 2006 as a backup to Mike Flynn, Brown started all 16 games at guard in 2007. He then started all 16 games in 2008 at center. Brown was considered to be one of the best offensive linemen coming into Free Agency in 2009.

Coach Spagnuolo had him on his radar immediately and had him in for a visit on the 1st day of FA, (Feb 27th 2009). The very next day he signed a $37.5 million contract with $20 million guaranteed, which made him the highest paid center in the NFL. Some changes were made, and the Rams unwisely started playing him at guard. He had proven to be a top center in the NFL, and I don’t feel he played as well at guard. All that aside, Brown became a cap casualty this yr (freeing up $2.8 million) and is currently on the market.

September 18, 2011; San Francisco, CA, USA; Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo (9) calls an audible behind center Phil Costa (67) against the San Francisco 49ers during the first quarter at Candlestick Park. Dallas defeated San Francisco 27-24 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Jason O. Watson-US PRESSWIRE

It is no secret in the world of football that Phil Costa is not what you would call a starting quality center. He still needs a year or two to develop.  In fact, there are only 32 starters in the NFL and Costa didn’t even crack the top 50 in the rankings. What does this mean? Many teams have better players as backups. Jason Brown would be a solid FA acquisition for the Cowboys. Keeping in mind that he is now an 8 year veteran, who recently turned 29, and his price tag should be a good bit lower now. He would make a huge improvement on the OL on at least a 2 yr deal until the Cowboys can develop another center.

My Analysis:

As stated previously, Jason Brown is better as a Center. He gets off the ball with some decent initial quickness. One place he will struggle is when he has a guy on his shoulder and he has to reach or make a cut off block. His foot doesn’t gain any ground or direction and he will be late on the block, thus giving up his outside. This doesn’t happen very often though. He is a really big player (320lbs) that is surprisingly quick on his feet. He does a good job at getting to the next level and reads stunts and blitzes well. He has good upper body strength but could use a little bit more in his legs.

Over all, he is a solid center. If you look at the table below, you can see that he was the 5th ranked center in the NFL in 2010. There is nothing posted for 2011 because he played mostly OG. However, he is serviceable to the Cowboys as a guard as well in a pinch.

Pass Blocking Efficiency, Centers, Top 10, 2010

Rank Name Team Pass Blocking Snaps PBE
1 Jeff Saturday IND 746 0.80
2 Matt Birk BLT 656 0.84
3 Lyle Sendlein ARZ 641 0.90
4 Andre Gurode DAL 668 1.27
5 Jason Brown SL 672 1.38
6 Nick Mangold NYJ 661 1.40
7 Jeremy Zuttah TB 443 1.58
8 Nick Hardwick SD 614 1.67
9 Olin Kreutz CHI 665 1.77
10 Alex Mack CLV 555 1.85

( Table courtesy of Pro Football Focus.)

“Overall he would be one heck of an improvement, so my  thoughts are: bring him in for a look Jerry Jones.”

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Tags: Dallas Cowboys Free Agency Jason Brown Jerry Jones Phil Costa

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