WWBT: A Deceptive January Calm

The 2004 off-season has already offered a number of changes among the folks in Berea who wear suits, ties, and the occasional brown and orange sweater ensemble. But what about the guys who wear the pads and the uniforms? Lane Adkins offers the latest buzz from within Berea about who's likely to stay, who's likely to go, and some word on a player who has the team intrigued. Want to the scoop? Here's <I>What We've Been Told</I>...

The latest reaching our ears here at BerniesInsiders.com, as usual from What We've Been Told:
  • The team has not made a determination as to the status of quarterbacks Tim Couch and Kelly Holcomb. Indications coming from sources close to the team are the organization would prefer to keep Couch, but not nearly at the 7.6 million he would be owed in the 2004 season. Additionally, indications coming from player exit interviews with the coaching staff lead us to believe the much-maligned Couch has gained a new-found respect from previously suspecting players on the team.
  • Holcomb, following the season ending win over the Cincinnati Bengals noted he may request the team trade or release him if he is not the starting quarterback. Holcomb has not backed off this stance according to numerous players on the roster and he is awaiting the decision the team makes in regards to Couch.
  • The organization and representatives for wide receiver Dennis Northcutt remain far apart on a contract and the organization appears to be approaching the mindset they will not retain his services.
  • As acknowledged by head coach Butch Davis, the team does intent on improving the offensive line. The scouting department as spent a considerable amount of time scouting linemen and according to sources within the organization, if a top of the line offensive linemen were to be available in free agency, the team would be willing to delve into the free agency market.
  • Indications coming from sources close to the team are that Robert Griffith and Ross Verba will be released. The organization will attempt to trade running back Jamel White, but it is likely he will be released. Free agent Barry Stokes will garner minimal interest from the team and free agent linebacker Brant Boyer will exercise his rights to free agency, though the Browns would like to retain his services.
  • Quincy Morgan, the suddenly talkative and less than productive receiver in the 2003 season has rubbed some of his teammates the wrong way with his actions late in the season. While the focus was on issues regarding departed receiver Kevin Johnson, some players and coaches have quietly noted that Morgan was doing many of things Johnson was reportedly (Davis statement) released for: Poor route running, lack of discipline, and mediocre blocking.
  • The Browns have more than a passing interest in Canadian Football League quarterback Ricky Ray. According to our ears in Berea, indications are the organization likes Ray's physical ability and mental makeup/understanding of the game. Again, the organization is looking for a quarterback to manage the game and lead the offense, not a player to be the offense.
  • As the free agent player signing period begins in late February, the Browns are expected to discuss a restructured deal with defensive tackle Gerard Warren. The team is not disappointed with the overall play of Warren, but want to make his salary cap hit for the 2004 season much more team friendly

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