Continuing from our previous questions on the offensive line, we turned to existing Browns players who need some attention between now and March 4th (the new contract year). The Browns have a number of free agents which need to be signed, and also have some players who might need to re-negotiate their contracts in order to make them palatable to the Browns management in 2004.
RE-SIGNING DENNIS NORTHCUTT
BI: Dennis Northcutt has played an instrumental role in the Browns offense the past couple of seasons and wants to be a starter in the league. Being a free agent, does the team have a serious interest in resigning Northcutt? If the Browns are unable to resign Northcutt, what is the plan to replace the productive receiver and punt return specialist?
Simply Speaking: "We have had ongoing discussions with Northcutt's people and at this time I don't believe we are close to getting anything done. We believe Northcutt wants to go out and see what is out there for him and that is his right. We'd love to have him back, but if it takes a four-five million dollar bonus and three-plus million a season his group seeks, the deal will not happen with us."
"We like some of the guys we have here that really have been waiting in the wings due to the talent we have had at the wide receiver position. Frisman Jackson and C. J. Jones have improved significantly and can play in this league. We are confident we are good at receiver."
CUTTING EXPENSIVE VETERANS
BI: On the defensive side of the ball the team was better than most people expected, especially with the youth and inexperience at linebacker. Is it safe to say a few high-salaried players such as Gerard Warren, Courtney Brown, and Robert Griffith may not be on the hot-seat as the team looks to gain additional salary-cap room and/or enhance those positions?
Simply Speaking: "As an organization, you always look at the production and role that players play, whether they make the league minimum or are a five million dollar a year player. It is all about playing within the scheme, dependability, at a reasonable cost. I'd be lying to you if I said we were not looking at the contracts and roles of some players you have mentioned and haven't mentioned. If you are making five million dollars, well you better produce at a high level and be a leader."
"As an organization we are looking to get bigger and quicker in the defensive backfield, notably at the safety spots. We are not necessarily unhappy with the play of our safeties, Earl Little has grown as a player and has shown the ability to be around the football. This is something that cannot be taught."
Simply Speaking: You are talking specifically about players that command a fairly high salary for the 2004 season or do not want to be here. While I won't go into any great detail due to the nature of the situation, but we have had talks with some of the players and may with others. At this time the odds are that some of the players mentioned will not return for the 2004 season.