Browns Give Couch Low-Ball Offer

If Tim Couch is going to stay with the Browns, he will have to accept the loss of millions of dollars in salary, based on the team's initial offer. Based on the salaries being given to free agent quarterbacks in 2003, and the team's initial offer, we may be watching the final days of the Tim Couch era in Cleveland...

The question has come up on the Ask the Insiders forum many, many times in the recent days: "Why are the Browns taking so long to get a contract offer to Tim Couch".

Without opening up the minds of the front office, it has been tough to guess, but I've had one theory that I've advanced a number of times: The team doesn't want him back all that badly.

While issues have been cleared up, and the Browns are still willing to keep him on the roster at the right price, the team has made Couch an offer that indicates that their desire to keep him on the team is lukewarm at best.

According to published reports in the Plain Dealer and Akron Beacon-Journal this morning, Couch has been asked to take a pay cut of over 50% and no additional years have been added to the contract.

At the same time, free agent quarterbacks with starting experience are in short supply this off-season, promising a potential sellers-market for a quarterback with possible long-term upside like Couch. Jeff Garcia, who is 34 years old, has already received interest from a number of teams, including the Browns, Falcons, Buccaneers, and Chargers. Couch is still only 26 and has five years of starting experience, including two impressive 2003 performances on national television against the Steelers and Rams.

It needs to be noted that Couch has repeatedly stated that he is willing to give back some of his contracted salary and that he desired to stay and "finish the job" in Cleveland.

The starting point, however, may be a long way away from where Couch envisioned the finish line to be, and the clock is ticking.

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We've been putting new information in several times each day, and signings up through this morning have been captured in the Free Agency Database.

As you can see from the Browns Player Tracker listing, we have also added a number of players of possible interest to our new scanners. Keep slamming that refresh button on the front page to get the very latest!

- AB

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