Peter Schrager of FoxSports.com first reported Brown's agreement with the Patriots on Wednesday. NFL Network's Ian Rapoport (via NFL Network on Twitter) confirmed the deal, adding it's a one-year pact.
The 28-year-old Brown has had an up-and-down career with the Indianapolis Colts and San Diego Chargers. His best season came in 2013, when he averaged 5.3 yards per carry and scored eight total touchdowns (six rushing).
After that season, Brown signed a three-year deal with the Chargers. He struggled with injuries and behind an erratic San Diego offensive line, racking up just 452 yards in 22 games before being released on March 3.
With Brown's move to New England, Oliver Thomas of 247Sports noted the Patriots are getting a player they know well:
Oliver Thomas @OliverBThomas
Donald Brown has faced the Patriots six times: - 56 carries for 203 rushing yards, touchdown - 13 catches for 121 receiving yards2016-3-16 19:41:55
The Patriots are looking for bodies to compete at running back heading into 2016. LeGarrette Blount and Steven Jackson are free agents. Brandon Bolden is their leading returning rusher, but he's never started more than two games in a season. Dion Lewis looked like a budding star early last year with 234 rushing yards and 388 receiving yards in seven games before a knee injury kept him out for eight games.
Brown is used to playing in rotations, both with the Colts and Chargers. His injury history does make it a steep climb for him to stay on the roster once the season begins, but this is a low-risk move by the Patriots to see if he can bring another dimension to the offense in 2016.