Holcomb Surgery Further Muddies the QB Picture

As part of a "State of the Team" press conference, the Browns today announced that QB Kelly Holcomb has had surgery for a labrum tear in his shoulder. The surgery subtlety alters the still-developing picture at quarterback, as the Browns move forward in their pursuit of a new agreement with starter Tim Couch.

Carmen Policy started today's press conference by announcing that quarterback Kelly Holcomb will need time to mend, following the repair of a labrum tear in his shoulder. Holcomb has played through shoulder pain in the past, but experienced worsening pain this off-season, leading to the decision to repair the damaged cartilage.

While Policy offered that the team feels that Holcomb's prognosis is very good, the team's back-up quarterback will likely miss the next four months and not be available to the team until around the time of training camp begins in July.

The news adds another level of complexity to a quarterback situation that is occupying the team's leadership as the off-season gears up in earnest.

As Holcomb recovers, the Browns continue to pursue contract changes with starting QB Tim Couch, who stands to make $7.6 million in salary under his existing contract.

Policy, who jokingly discussed his "sacrifice" in heading to Florida to talk to the team's former #1 pick, described his recent meeting with Couch as "warm, yet professional" and feels that he is able to report Couch's view on restructuring his contract "as it truly does exist".

Policy later described the conversations as "very direct and personal", stating that he refused to go into any great detail.

Regardless, the team will move the next stage in dealing with Couch's contract as they start talks with his agent, Tom Condon. With Condon's high-profile client list occupying his attention this month, the team doesn't expect to be able to discuss contract details until near the end of next week, creating some pressure to reach a compromise prior the beginning of free agency on March 3rd.

The team denies that Holcomb's surgery enhances Couch's bargaining position, with Policy even suggesting that Holcomb will be better able to compete with his shoulder repaired.

Even if Couch signs, Head Coach Butch Davis suggested that he will need to meet with the quarterback regarding "some issues we need to talk about". While not being specific, Davis is likely referring to after-effects of his decision last year to install Kelly Holcomb as the starter.

Policy also flatly rejected a report by a Plain Dealer columnist that the Browns might sign and then trade Tim Couch. The team also didn't deny that they might still trade Kelly Holcomb, but did insist that they haven't "seriously considered" moving the back-up quarterback.

The impact of Holcomb's surgery even ripples down to the team's third and fourth-string quarterbacks. Since the team is likely to need another quarterback to participate in post-draft mini-camps, Todd Husak or Nate Hybl may either be pulled out of NFL Europe or the team might sign a street free agent. Based on Davis' comments, the appears to be leaning toward bringing back Husak, since doing so would provide him with an opportunity to learn the offense and work with QB Coach Steve Hagen.

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