Telling it the way it is, separating fact and fiction, from what we've been told.
Reports coming from Senior Bowl week had the Browns focused on offensive linemen, we have heard the Browns had a keen eye on a tight-end, running backs, a wide receiver, and defensive secondary personnel.
Bernie's Insiders has learned that the Browns came away impressed with running backs DeShaun Foster from U.C.L.A. and Lamar Gordon from North Dakota State. Tight-end Daniel Graham was Colorado impressed everyone with his abilities, wide receiver Kelly Campbell from Georgia Tech, and defensive backs Keyou Craver from Nebraska and Jon McGraw from Kansas State.
"WE'VE BEEN TOLD" that one Brown is a goner and another isn't an option! Sources tell Bernie's Insiders that linebacker/special teams talent, Brant Boyer will be selected by the Houston Texans in the expansion draft and the Texans have no interest in cornerback Corey Fuller.
Additionally, don't be surprised if Fuller is the player the Browns pull back once the Texans select a member of their five-man list.
According to a spy in Berea, pulling Fuller back would be a way for the organization to show the wounded corner that they still want him in Cleveland and that the move to place him on the unprotected list was merely a strategic maneuver.
ROMAN EMPIRE: An interesting scenario is beginning to take shape in Houston, one that could have an effect on Cleveland.
Should the Texans receive worse-than-expected news in their medical evaluations of the Jaguars' Tony Boselli, the club may shy away from the Pro Bowl tackle and look in another OL direction.
A source close to the Jaguars organization tells Bernie's Insiders that Boselli should have no problem passing a physical examination for the Texans, scheduled the week following the Super Bowl.
One of the tackles who could garner interest from the expansion franchise, one in the know says, is Roman Oben, the current Browns left tackle who started 30 of 32 games in his two seasons in Cleveland. Oben is said to be a favorite of offensive coordinator Chris Palmer, who played a major role in signing Oben away from the Giants in March of 2000.
ON THE COACHING FRONT!: Sometimes talk is cheap. Sources tell Bernie's Insiders that Browns defensive coordinator Foge Fazio will return in the 2002 season. Rumors circulated that Fazio could possibly be headed to Washington to become the defensive coordinator under new Redskins head coach Steve Spurrier.
SIX DEGREES OF DEWEY: Another rumor making the rounds the last couple of months in the National Enquirer-like world of the NFL was that current Browns vice president/director of football operations Dwight Clark would be a strong candidate for the Panthers' general manager position.
A Browns source assures Bernie's Insiders that Clark was never even remotely close to being a serious candidate for the job, that it was merely one of those "he knows someone from that club, therefore he's a candidate" rumors.
Clark grew up in Charlotte and went to college at Clemson. Additionally, he is close to various members of the organization, which was the clincher in Clark's name popping up on the rumor radar.
DEUCE OR RICKY, WHO IS THE MAN?: We've talked in this column that both New Orleans Saints running backs could be on the trading block. More than ever, this appears to be the case.
While publically saying all the politically correct things, behind the scenes Bernie's Insiders has been assured that the Saints will attempt to trade one of these running backs.
COLD-WEATHER GIMP: Earlier in the week, rumors began to make the rounds that Jaguars running back Fred Taylor could be had for a third-round draft pick. Subsequent to that, speculation began to bubble in The Rumors Forum that the Browns could/should/shouldn't make a run at the talented but oft-injured back.
With that as an impetus, Bernie's Insiders did a little digging and found out that, for any team north of the Mason-Dixon line, it's buyer beware.
Sources close to Taylor tell this space that the RB "desperately wants to stay in Florida... at least someplace warm" and that he "despises" any kind of weather that involves the words "snow" or "wind chill". Taylor was born in Belle Glade, Florida; went to high school at Glades Central High; and player four years at the University of Florida before being taken by Jacksonville in the first round of the 1998 draft.
Taylor's stats in games played in cold-weather cities after November 15 seem to bear out that attitude.
In five games played outside after that date, Taylor has totaled 289 yards on 87 carries for an average of 3.3 a carry (excluded in that total is a 136-yard performance against the Browns in 1999, due to the fact that several members of Bernie's Insiders could've rushed for 90+ against that run defense). In all other games, he has averaged 4.9 a carry.
You can bet the house that any team looking to deal for Taylor will have those numbers tossed across the trading block by Taylor's agents.
Taylor actually has additional leverage as to where he could potentially be dealt as he has a mere two years left on his contract. The same source very strongly intimated that Taylor would not be amenable to re-signing with any cold-weather team that traded for his services.
Basically, a team could very well be renting Taylor for two years, after which he would bolt for warmer climes. If you were a playoff team on the cusp of a Super Bowl berth, it would likely be worth the risk. However, if you're not, the buyer in you must beware.
TAMPA BAY, HMMM: Is Bill Parcells really out of the picture in Tampa Bay? We are hearing that it is doubtful that Parcells will coach the Buccaneers, but you just never know. Much of Parcells' decision to bow out of the coaching derby this off-season was due to his desire to be elected into the Hall of Fame.
The Hall of Fame election committee will meet on February 2nd to elect the 2002 enshrinees. Soon following this date, we will know if Parcells wants to coach again.
IN LOVIE!: Sources in Florida tell Bernie's Insiders that Rams defensive coordinator and former Tampa Bay defensive coach, Lovie Smith is the top candidate to become head coach of the Buccaneers. That is if Parcel