FOXBOROUGH -- After a couple months as a player without a team, Troy Brown is a Patriot again.
In many ways, it was a typical, hard-nosed contract negotiation, with back-and-forth proposals, hints of better offers from outside parties, and a willingness to get something done despite a realistic angst that it wouldn't happen.
But the most important agents in the negotiations never sat at the bargaining table.
Meet Sir'mon and SaanJay Brown.
Upon hearing that their father was considering leaving the only team they ever had seen him play for, Troy Brown's youngsters added their two cents.
Six-year-old Sir'mon, who has been around for only half his father's NFL career (the entirety with the Patriots), initiated the effort, though according to dad, he had an ally in his 4-year-old younger brother.
''Part of the deciding factor in the whole thing was my oldest son," Brown said. ''He heard me talking to my wife about it and he said, 'No, Daddy, I want you to play for Patriots.'
''It's touching. I'm an emotional guy and that kind of stuff gets to me. Just hearing him say that, you know how genuine he was about it. And money aside, he has no concept of the dollar amounts.
''He just said, 'I want you to play for the Patriots. No, Daddy. I don't want you go anywhere. I want you to play for the Patriots.' When you hear your 6-year-old son say something like that, you think about it a little bit and how much would it affect him. That made it a little bit easier for me to make up my mind."
In the end, Brown did put money aside, as the New Orleans Saints apparently made an offer of more cash and a virtual lock on the No. 3 receiver spot.
''The Saints really made it hard for me," Brown said.
New England, which because of salary cap considerations elected not to give Brown a $2.5 million bonus due in March and the $2.5 million salary he would have earned this season, offered less money than New Orleans and no guarantee of playing time. But Brown didn't feel slighted.
''This is the NFL," he said. ''It is a business and things happen."
Brown joins a crowded stable of receivers that includes offseason acquisitions David Terrell and Tim Dwight.
Of course, after appearing in nine games at defensive back a year ago, and having his least productive year at receiver in almost a decade (just 17 receptions), Brown said he is prepared for anything. (Though he wouldn't offer that this might be his final season.)
Yesterday, he wore a white No. 80 jersey when he met the media after working out at the team's passing camp. Defensive players sport blue jerseys.
''No blue jersey, [but] who knows what tomorrow holds?" Brown said, smiling. ''Whatever they put me at, that is what I'm going to do. That's the way I've always been and that is the way I continue to be.
''I just enjoy playing the game. I enjoy winning. That is a big reason I stayed here. I just enjoy winning and I knew that part of my best chance at winning was to stay here. When you go out and play football, it doesn't matter if you are on offense, defense, special teams, or whatever, you just want to be on the field being a part of the game.
''I don't know what two weeks from now is going to hold, or a month from now is going to hold. Whatever I am asked to do, I am going to give them 110 percent doing it."
And much to the pleasure of Sir'mon, that hard work will be on behalf of the Patriots.
''I know that he will be happy here coming to see games again this year," Brown said.