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McGinest Reunites with Crennel in Cleveland

Willie McGinest went to four Super Bowls during his 12-year career with the New England Patriots, the last three all wins with Romeo Crennel as defensive coordinator. McGinest left the only pro team for which he's ever played to reunite with Crennel, now the head coach of the Cleveland Browns.

McGinest on Wednesday signed a 3-year deal worth $12 million, which includes $6 million in guarantees and bonuses. McGinest and Crennel were together a total of seven years in New England.

"He's a big reason why I came," McGinest said. "He's like a father. He makes you feel comfortable and gives you that family atmosphere. "

Former New England Patriots linebacker Willie McGinest shows his familiar No. 55 on an unfamiliar jersey.

Photo Courtesy:  AP

McGinest, 34, became the Kraft family's first draft pick, taken in the first round of the 1994 NFL Draft. In his 12 years, the 6-foot-5, 270-pound McGinest was a two-time Pro Bowl selection. He has 78 career sacks, including 6 last season, plus a league record 4.5 in one post-season game against Jacksonville. He holds the career postseason sack record with 16. McGinest would have counted more than $7 million against the 2006 salary cap for the Patriots.

McGinest, who visited only with Cleveland since being released by New England, will wear his familiar No. 55 for the Browns.

McGinest was a fan favorite from the beginning, even through a drought in the years prior to his renaissance under Crennel and head coach Bill Belichick. Despite his resurgence, he never topped his career bests in tackles (88 total, 70 solo) and sacks (11) in 1995, his second season. He has four career interceptions (two returned for touchdowns), including one each in the 2002 to 2004 seasons.

McGinest played in 171 regular season games in his 12 years. He played all 16 games in 7 different seasons.

More QB Fallout

A day after signing quarterback Drew Brees to a 6-year deal, the New Orleans Saints released Aaron Brooks. Brooks started a club record 82 straight games a quarterback; and, despite general mediocrity, led New Orleans to its only playoff win in 2000 -- the year he took over for the injured Jeff Blake.

Last season, Brooks passed Archie Manning for the team record in career touchdown passes (120 - 115). Otherwise, Brooks and the Saints had a season consistent with what the rest of New Orleans went through last year.