Jamel White at a Crossroads
He may not be the choice at running back for the Browns, he may not even be on the field with the Browns in 2003, but Jamel White is not a player that who will let the situation get him down.
Harboring a strong desire to start in the NFL, White is one of the hardest working players to ever walk through the doors at the Browns practice facility. Since being signed off waivers from the Indianapolis Colts prior to the 2000 season, White has done everything asked of him and much more, for the Browns, for himself, and in the community.
The reality, though, is that it's very possible the Browns may soon lose the scrappy running back. It's a reality that the team seems to be struggling to deal with.
White is a restricted free agent and has been tendered an offer by the Browns at $1.3 million dollars. Any team can sign White to an offer sheet, but if the Browns do not match the offer, Cleveland would receive a first-round draft selection from the offering team. While there has certainly been interest in White, no team has come close to making him an offer. The compensation is simply too great a price for any NFL club to pay.
Another issue for the Browns is that they would prefer not to pay White $1.3 million dollars on essentially is a one-year deal for the 2003 season. Already tightly constrained by the salary cap, the Browns would rather negotiate a long-term contract with White that greatly reduces the salary cap hit in 2003, and provides the team with the playmaker and insurance policy they have enjoyed for the past two seasons.
In the midst of this, White continues to express the attitude that has made him an example for younger players to follow, but acknowledges that he may not be able to fulfill his potential while a member of the Browns.
"I have done everything that has been asked of me and more. I love to play the game and nothing is ever taken for granted, I know where I came from," White told Bernie's Insiders recently. "Personally, I would like the opportunity to start in the NFL, the chance to prove that I am a starting type running back and not just a third-down back."
"I appreciate the Browns. I love the team and I love the fans of Cleveland. I believe it is time that I take my game to the next level and I don't believe that I can do that in Cleveland. That isn't a knock on the team or coaching staff, William Green is their running back of now and the future and he is a player."
And if the Browns do not trade him and no offer is forthcoming from another team?
"I'll be here doing my thing, doing whatever is asked of me, striving to be the best player and teammate I can be. And helping the Browns win."
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