Tuesday Wrap: Northcutt Contract Talks Stall

The Browns would very much like to extend Dennis Northcutt's contract before he can go on the open market. Dennis Northcutt would very much like to make big, big bucks as soon as possible. One would think there's some common ground there, but Mike McLain reports this evening that the going is rough... that, plus a full update on today's events in training camp await...

BEREA – Contract talks between the Browns and receiver Dennis Northcutt aren't exactly steamrolling along.

Browns president Carmen Policy said Tuesday that the team wants to re-sign Northcutt, whose contract ends after this season, The problem is that Northcutt wants a contract that's more lucrative than the four-year, $13.35 million deal given to receiver Kevin Johnson last year.

"We've worked hard on extending Dennis Northcutt's contract," Policy said. "We're pretty high on dennis as a player and as a person. We want him on this team. He performed some pretty special services for the offense and the special teams.

"Our problem in the whole negotiation process stems from the fact that we feel that Kevin Johnson has set the high-water mark at the receiver position. Kevin is our number one receiver. Kevin's contract is above market. We can't offer that same contract or a contract that's seriously contract that's close to Kevin's deal to Dennis."

Northcutt, who had problems staying healthy in his first three seasons after being selected in the second round of the 2000 draft, caught 38 passes for 601 yards and five touchdowns last season. He was third in the NFL and second in the AFC in punt-return average at 14.7 yards.

"This is a business," Northcutt said after the June minicamp. "Let's not hide in a closet. It's all about the money. Anybody who says that it's not is lying.

"When I go out there, my heart's in it because I love to play this game. That's why I'm not worried about the money issue. But at the end of the day, I have to go home and feed my family. Like I say, I love this game, but at the same time it's a business, and I treat it like a business."

NO DEAL FOR A QB: Policy said that both Tim Couch and Kelly Holcomb will remain with the team this season, no matter which one gets the starting assignment. That will change next year if Couch is the backup. With a 2004 salary-cap hit of $9.26 million, the team would likely have to move him.

"There might be evaluations and considerations that will have to be made in terms of next year," Policy said. "But that's next year's agenda. Right now we have our salaries pretty much locked into place. We're fine, and our salary-cap situation will be much better next year. We have no problem whasoever in terms of our money as it comes to out team is it's now constituted, and that includes the quarterback position. So going forward it's all about competition. It's not about money."

POLICY DISCOUNTS ESPN REPORT: Policy said that a media report stating that Lee Suggs is considering sitting out the season and re-entering the draft next year isn't accurate.

"I think a lot of progress has been made," Policy said. "Lee has been offered a very good contract. I would be beyond shocked if there's even a serious consideration in the back of the player's mind to sit out. It makes no sense to sit out."

Suggs is recovering from shoulder surgery last May.

CAMP NOTES: Defensive tackle Gerard Warren used the occasion of wearing the yellow jersey to have his best practice of camp. Warren made several quick moves in getting by the guards Melvin Fowler and Barry Stokes. On one running play Warren shot a gap and reached William Green before Green had a chance to take a couple of strides.

It wasn't a pretty sight for Couch during two-minute drills. He had one pass almost intercepted by Anthony Henry. The possession ended when Ben Taylor picked off a pass.

Holcomb was more successful, driving the second-team offense into scoring range, resulting in a 30-yard field goal by Phil Dawson.

Steve Heiden struggled against the Titans last Satuday, but the results were better on Tuesday. Heiden caught back-to-back passes from Couch for touchdowns on individual drills. In 7-on-7 work, Heiden easily ran by middle linebacker Barry Gardner and caught a pass covering 30 yards.

Jamel White tweaked a hamstring and sat out practice.

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