Jamel's Job Jousting: Depth is a critical element in today's NFL. Quality depth can take a team from average status to that of an elite franchise. The Browns may not be there yet, but the quality depth the team finds itself with in the offensive backfield provides a comfort zone that the Browns haven't had in the past.
That comfort zone was realized when, following the on-again, off-again negotiations, the Browns locked up running back Jamel White for four years. One question raised during and following the negotiations is, "Why would White lock himself into the role of a backup running back for so long?"
A league source provides some insight on the negotiations between representatives for While and the Browns.
"Jamel White wants the opportunity to start in the NFL. He is a talented kid that has come a along way since being signed by the Browns off the waiver wire in 2000," the source said. "Interestingly, White will have the opportunity to compete and play in Cleveland, even with the Browns first-round draft selection in 2002, William Green, on the roster and penciled in as the starter following a strong second-half of the 2002 season."
"The Browns have significant plans for White. From coming out of the backfield, to lining up as a wide-out, to playing special teams in the return game, White will have the chance to play on a consistent basis."
Rumors circulated prior to the NFL draft in April that the Browns had attempted to trade White for a second-round draft selection. Even after that fell through, when the Browns drafted running back Lee Suggs in the fourth round of the 2003 draft, the writing was thought to have been on the wall for White. Believing that some of the speculation within the league and media was true, White had become increasingly frustrated about his status with the team, according to a teammate.
"(Jamel) White is probably the most dedicated player that I have ever been around. He is always working out, here before anyone and regularly one of the last players to leave the building. Often he leaves after many of the coaches," the teammate said. "This entire ordeal was difficult for him, he worked hard for the opportunity to play and progress in not only the league, but here in Cleveland, he loves the city. For him to stick it out and get the deal that he did speaks measures for the man. One thing is certain, the competition and talent we have in the backfield makes us a diversified and dangerous team."
"From what I understand, Jamel is looked upon as a starting quality NFL running back by the coaching staff and the coaches are quite comfortable going to him, if necessary. Not wanting to fuel or start any fires or take anything away from (William) Green, but White can start for this team."
With mini-camp on the horizon and training camp just a mere few weeks away, White will have the opportunity to show the Browns that he is that starting quality running back that he insists he is. If he does, look for the team to use any excuse available to get him onto the field. - Lane
Received on the Rumor Radar:
- Defensive tackle Gerard Warren recently weighed in at 313 pounds and looking much better than the comparable Michelin-Man of the 2002 season. Wanting to turn the corner and become the dominant player the team envisioned when drafting him in the first round of the 2001 draft, Warren has been committed to the Browns off-season workout program. - Lane
- Keep your eyes on the waiver wire down in Tampa Bay. The Bucs signed Ohio State punter Andy Groom as an undrafted free agent following the draft, and it was revealed at that time that the Browns had pursued Groom following the draft. Groom also offered that the Browns had attempted to trade back into the seventh round to snag him. With Groom's signing, it was hastily decided that free agent P Tom Tupa's stint was over. Not so fast. Tupa recently signed a one-year deal with the Bucs, and is far from washed-up. Tupa, in fact, set a Bucs record last year by dropping 30 punts inside the opponent's 20-yard line. In a critical game against the Saints last season, Tupa set a single-game team record by averaging 52 yards per punt on five punts. If Tupa emerges the victor in the upcoming training camp battle, and Gardocki doesn't spring back from last year's sub-par effort, there is a possibility that the team's interest in Groom may be renewed. - FOL (Friend of Lane)
- While the 2002 season brought some excitement and questions about the quarterback position heading into the 2003 season, some players on the roster are not sold on the statement that head coach Butch Davis made when stating the best player would start. "As long as (Tim) Couch is competitive, he will be the starting quarterback. Kelly (Holcomb) knows that and the majority of us in the locker room know that," one player said. "Whomever moves the team better should be the starter, regardless of ego, contract, etc. This is about winning and at times some questionable things happen around here." - Lane
- Forget any speculation that recently released linebacker Randall Godfrey might be headed northward. There are a handful of team's interested in Godfrey, including the Jaguars, but the Browns don't appear ready to upset the linebacking apple cart at this point. The Browns are happy with how the young linebacking corps looks to be shaping up, and are pleased with what they've seen of Barry Gardner. Despite Godfrey's Cowpoke history, he hasn't shown up on the Browns radar at all. In addition to being pursued by the Jags, Godfrey will be visiting the Seattle Seahawks on Monday. Godfrey's release, by the way, has been a management stinkbomb in the Titan's lockerroom. - FOL
- Loaded with talent at the wide receiver position, the Browns have recently engaged in conversation with representatives for Dennis Northcutt. Northcutt, a free agent following the 2003 season is believed to want a contract that compensates him for his duel role. "Dennis (Northcutt) really can't wait to become a free agent. Now that he is past his injuries, he has shown how explosive a player he is at this level, and he doesn't even start with the Browns," a source close to Northcutt said. "The Browns are playing low-ball right now, they'll come up with a serious offer when Dennis proves again in 2003 how important a player he is for that team. By then though, it may be too late." - Lane
- On first-round draft selection, center Jeff Faine through mini-camps. "He is every bit the player that we expected him to be and possibly more", BerniesInsiders.com was told by a team source, "Jeff (Faine) has very good strength and movement for a player at the center position, he will provide us the opportunity to be more explosive up the gut this season." - Lane