2012 NFL Free Agency: The Les Brown Experiment

Most of you know, I try not to react too much to the things the Miami Dolphins do - at least in my writings here on the site. I force myself to stay neutral, and just report information, while trying to give you all things to discuss, while not swaying that discussion. Well, today, I throw that out the window. I am absolutely in love with the signing of Les Brown, the former basketball player the team is attempting to convert to tight end.

Why am I in love with this move? Because this is the definition of a low-risk, high-reward move. Jeff Ireland saw a player who ran a 4.4 second 40-yard dash, on a sprained ankle, along with a 39-inch vertical, and made the move to sign him. Brown joins the Dolphins on a three-year contract, with only the promise to be able to compete for a spot on the final 53-man roster. The Dolphins currently have Anthony Fasano, Charles Clay, Jeron Mastrud, and Will Yeatman as tight ends on the roster.

"I understand this is just the first step, and the hard work begins now," Brown told Ben Volin of the Palm Beach Post on Saturday. "But I just want to do this for me, so I don't have to spend the rest of my life asking what if I would've played football. I'm a no-regrets type of guy, so I had an opportunity and I jumped on it."

"I had a lot of people saying, ‘Man, what are you doing?'" Brown said. "You're just chasing a dream. You have a better chance of hitting the lottery."

Brown last played football six-years ago at Highland High School in Salt Lake City, Utah. He was good enough to receive scholarship offers from Oregon, Washington State, and BYU as a wide receiver, along with baseball and basketball offers. However, his mother was ill at the time, so he chose to pursue basketball at a local private school, Westminster College. After his junior year at Westminster, Brown received a summer internship at a private equity firm.

That internship would eventually turn into a job, which Brown held for two years, before deciding to return to Westminster to finish his degree in July 2011. While back at Westminster, Brown's younger brothers, who play football at BYU - which ultimately allowed him to participate in BYU's Pro Day - introduced Les to a personal trainer, who began the process of converting the former college basketball player into an NFL prospect.

"Being the no-name guy, I knew there had to be a ‘wow' factor,'" Brown told Volin of the Pro Day experience, despite having a grade three ankle sprain at the time. "It was probably the biggest stage I've ever been on. I had a good workout and I was on cloud nine all day."

The Dolphins then called Brown and invited him to a the team facilities for a workout last week. Brown met with Ireland, head coach Joe Philbin, offensive coordinator Mike Sherman, and tight ends coach Dan Campbell while in Miami. He then left, heading to Green Bay for another private workout, this time with the Packers. Following the workout with the Packers, the Dolphins called Brown, and signed him to a three-year deal on Friday.

"They said they'd like to run more two-tight end sets and be able to have one guy that's more flexible and can split out and create mismatches," Brown said. "I was so impressed with their organization. They were saying all the right things, and it was a good overall feel for me.

"It was all kind of surreal and then it just hit me - ‘Wow, this is really happening.' So here I am today. I'm very proud to be a Miami Dolphin and very honored. I just can't wait for the next step."

Brown is expected to take that next step as a part of the Dolphins' mini-camp on April 23.

Again, I love this move. Brown coming to the Dolphins gives them a chance to find a stud tight end, who can stretch the field and add a new weapon for the offense. If he cannot cut it, then the team releases him, and there is no real harm done. The team could end up with the tight end they need, without burning a draft pick. The Dolphins could end up stashing Brown onto the practice squad if they see promise, but need more time. There are so many options here, and, the Dolphins already found a gem once, grabbing linebacker Cameron Wake out of the Canadian Football League. Coincidentally, Wake spent two years after college as a stock broker.

Hopefully, the Dolphins have found another gem from the financial world returning to football.

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