It is a pretty noteworthy piece of news for several reasons. The first — and most important — being that the Bengals have the smallest scouting department in the NFL, so any subtraction is a fairly big deal at this point with the offseason just on the horizon.
Another big reason is Brown may be one of the best scouts Cincinnati has. When you take a look at his qualifications from an article Geoff Hobson wrote about Brown prior to the season, it is easy to see why he is so coveted by other teams.
Before serving as an executive with both the Birmingham Iron of the Alliance of American Football (director of football operations) and with the XFL’s St. Louis BattleHawks (director of player personnel), Brown spent three years as the Eagles director of college scouting. His five seasons in Philadelphia came after a two-year stint as a scout for the Patriots on the West Coast, a job spawned by New England personnel chief Nick Caserio’s interaction on the scouting trail with a smart, scrappy and undersized UCLA cornerback before the 2008 draft.
The Bengals have a small scouting department, but that also allows their scouts to have their hands in more of the football tasks. It also makes their voices more easily heard. Director of Player Personnel, Duke Tobin, has noted Cincinnati’s scouts do a ton that many teams wouldn’t require of their own. The most notable difference is scouting professional and college players. Tobin noted to Hobson “Trey fits that mold to a tee, and he comes in ready-made to contribute.”
It is safe to say that Brown would likely be ready to take a step up in responsibility with running a team. He has also been a big part of a front office that quickly turned one of the worst rosters in the NFL completely over into a team that could be contending for a Super Bowl very shortly.
Not to mention Cincinnati didn’t follow the most predictable path to get there with moves like creating an elite group of playmakers to surround their young quarterback rather than focusing on the offensive line first.
This past offseason was also a huge homerun for the Bengals, but letting longtime players like pass rusher Carl Lawson and cornerback William Jackson walk were controversial moves at the time. The way the defense was built up in practically two offseasons through mostly mid-level free agents surely caught the eye of many teams looking to turn into contenders.
The NFL is very much a copycat league. The Bengals are flying high after two great offseasons. Now it appears other teams are ready to try and replicate that formula.