Signed and Delivered

The Browns introduced their new quarterback, Jeff Garcia, to Cleveland today. Garcia spoke enthusiastically about the opportunity to quarterback the Browns, and offered some insight into his reasons for deciding to come to Cleveland. Here are notes from today's press conference in Berea...

Butch Davis and Carmen Policy introduced new quarterback Jeff Garcia to the press this afternoon, minutes after he signed his new contract to play for the Cleveland Browns.

The 34-year-old Garcia, who had just signed a four-year, $25 million contract, expressed his enthusiasm for his new opportunity. The Browns new quarterback explained that the opportunity to be the Browns starter was the difference-maker between the Browns and Bucs. "You have to look at opportunity", Garcia told the press, "Opportunity to be the guy that is going to be on the field leading the team."

Joking that he had "grounded" his father for the next twelve month, Garcia talked about the press reports appearing yesterday indicating that he was ready to join the Buccaneers. Excited following his meeting with Gruden, Garcia spoke to his father and regretted that "a false sense in a lot of people that I was committed somewhere." After his agent "helped bring me back down to earth and look at the big picture", Garcia said he essentially isolated himself from the two teams on Monday, except for one call to Butch Davis, and thought over his options.

Davis, in introducing Garcia, maintained that Garcia was not on the Browns radar until close to March 3rd, the date that teams were required to be below the salary cap. The team also revealed the Garcia's contract is voidable by the player after his second year with the Browns.

It has widely speculated that the Browns intend to utilize Garcia over the next couple of seasons, while grooming another quarterback for the longer-term. When asked the Browns "long-term answer at quarterback", Policy chose to discuss the four-year nature of Garcia's  contract.  Davis, however, did discuss the possibility of acquiring a quarterback this year or next who would be able to learn from the sidelines, and naturally mentioned Nate Hybl and Todd Husak as possibilities already on the roster.

After Garcia left, questions turned more to the situation with Tim Couch, who remains on the roster, and Kelly Holcomb. Davis and Policy maintained that Couch has not asked to be released, and that the team could keep him on the roster "through the whole season" if needed. Davis met with both Holcomb and Couch in his office for about a half-hour apiece, and gave his assessment that Couch handled the situation with class and maturity.

Policy lectured the press about the way in which "the opening salvo to (Couch's) agent" were represented, saying that the team was "blind-sided" by the reaction. The Browns Team President offered his view that the press' reports were "very unfortunate" and got negotiations "off to a very bad start". Policy added that there were "good-faith negotiations" with Couch's agent which stalled and remarked that it was "interesting" that the initial proposal to Garcia was lower than the initial proposal to Couch.

Upon questioning about Tim Couch's recent history, Butch Davis presented a sympathetic view of "good guy" Tim Couch's stay in Cleveland. Davis suggested that Couch's inability to click in Cleveland may have been due to any number of factors from his history of being inserted quickly as the starting quarterback, to injuries suffered by the offensive line.

Davis and Policy discussed about the future of Couch in Cleveland and made no commitment that they would either cut or trade Couch. Policy stated that there would be discussions with Tim and his agent about trying to do what is best for Couch and the Browns, which presumably means seeing if a trade can be formulated which gives Couch an opportunity to play while giving something of value back to the Browns. Davis did express concern about Kelly Holcomb's injury, hinting that it might be prudent to hold onto Couch while seeing if Holcomb can return.

Davis finished up by saying that the Browns will be inviting several players to Berea this week and hope to announce some new additions to the team over the coming days.

- AB

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