Browns in precarious position

Getting rookies under contract will be one of the numerous issues the Browns will face once the holiday weekend unfolds. Straddling the salary cap and having seven rookie players that the team needs to get under contract, talks have been conducted at a snails pace, but the team is not worried.

Negotiations with the last five players the team selected in the 2003 NFL College player draft, Chris Crocker, Lee Suggs, Ryan Pointbriand, Michael Lehan, and Antonio Garay are expected to be completed without much of an issue, from what we've been told.

"When you get into negotiating with the agents for players that were selected in the mid-rounds on, the negotiations usually are fairly easy. The numbers are pretty consistent, and we have proven to be an extremely fair organization on player salaries," a team source said. We have had some subtle discussions, not much in regards to finalizing any numbers with the representatives, but we have a good feel for where we are. One of the encouraging aspects we have here is that we have some guys coming in here that have a very good opportunity not just to make the team, but be players that make up the core of our team for years to come."

For the Browns to sign the draftees, the organization is in a position where they will have to restructure or release a player(s) to complete the task. Releasing veteran players before the free agency signing period to assure the organization was under the league mandated salary cap of 74.8 million dollars, the Browns are in a precarious position.

"To get all the players under contract, we will have to maneuver a bit to get under the salary cap. Right now, it isn't much of an issue for us, we have numerous options," the team source said. "We have approached some players about restructuring their contracts, with positive results."

"Getting the rookies under contract is an issue, but not one that we haven't prepared for."

Normally, players selected in the first rounds of the draft are the last players to agree to terms with an organization. In the case of the Browns top-two draft choices, Jeff Faine and Chaun Thompson, the norm may not be the reality for Cleveland heading into training camp in late July.

"I just want to get ready, workout, and get on the field," Faine said. "The contract will take care of itself, I am not concerned with it and my agent doesn't seem to believe that we'll have any problems getting it done. This is a great opportunity for me, I intend on being here from day one. Camp will be tough and I'll need all the reps I can get, playing at this level is different from college, everybody here is the best and I have to be prepared."

And Chaun Thompson..........

"I've been here from the start, being here learning the responsibilities, the scheme, the terminology, everything. From what I have seen so far, the game is much quicker, the players are that much better, and there is allot less room for error," Thompson said. "I've been told from the players on the team to people in the organization that they want me here from day-one, and I will be. I know I can play at this level, now I have to work to make sure that I am doing things right."

The OBR Top Stories