If the Browns are willing to re-signing tight end O.J. Santiago, they may have to open the wallets a little wider than they had originally anticipated.
Santiago is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent on March 1, and his agent, Nathan Lampley, tells Bernie's Insiders exactly what his client will be looking for if and when he hits the open market.
"We are looking for a starter's position and starter's money," Lampley said.
"We don't want to break the bank, but [starting-type money] is what we are looking for. Whether we get that from Cleveland or somewhere else, I don't know. But I do know this: O.J. would love to come back to Cleveland."
Making this an interesting situation for Cleveland is the fact that they already have a quality #1 TE on the depth chart. Last offseason, Ricky Dudley signed a three-year, $6 million contract that included a $2 million signing bonus.
Before suffering a season-ending foot injury, Dudley was in the midst of a solid season. Although his receiving numbers were paltry -- nine catches for 115 yards -- his blocking prowess was an excellent balance to his lack of production in the receiving game.
Lampley realizes that the presence of Dudley and his contract will likely have an effect on where his client lands for the '02 season.
"They have a lot of money tied up in Ricky. It's just a function as to how much money they want to invest in the position," Lampley said.
Even armed with the knowledge that the posturing season of NFL agents is in full swing, don't expect Santiago to receive anything close to starter's money anywhere on the free agent market, including Cleveland.
NORTH-SIDE TIDBITS: As reported in this space last week, Pittsburgh offensive coordinator Mike Mularkey has emerged as a contender for the vacant head-coaching position in Tampa Bay. Additionally, quarterbacks coach Tom Clements interviewed for the coordinator position in Buffalo, made vacant by the firing of Mike Sheppard after only one season on the job. Clements is also a candidate for the same position in Jacksonville. A Steelers source tells The Insiders that the club is hoping that the Bucs make a quick decision on their head coach so they can offer the OC job to Clements if Mularkey bolts. Otherwise, the team would be looking at replace their top two positions on the offensive rung. ... Mularkey isn't the only assistant of an AFC North team eyeing the Bucs job as Ravens defensive coordinator Marvin Lewis interviewed for the position earlier this week. Oakland's Jon Gruden remains Tampa's top choice to replace Tony Dungy, with Lewis, Mularkey, Rams defensive coordinator Lovie Smith and Norv Turner -- who will become Miami's OC if he does not get the job -- considered as second-tier candidates. The Bucs are not expected to make a decision on a new head coach until late next week, at the earliest. ... Normally, the week leading up to the Super Bowl is rife with speculation and innuendo, but this year has been surprisingly quiet on the rumor front. One rumor making the rounds, however, is that the Ravens are interested in making a deal for disgruntled Jaguars quarterback Mark Brunell. Our Ravens source tells us that there is absolutely zero truth to the story and that the Ravens will hitch their offensive wagon to Elvis Grbac, for at least one more season. ... The Bengals have interviewed 33-year-old former NFL safety Darren Perry to potentially replace Ray Horton as the club's safeties coach. Perry played for Cincinnati head coach Dick LeBeau in Pittsburgh in the mid-90's. The Bengals could also be in search of a new tight ends coach as Frank Verducci has been given permission to speak to the Cowboys regarding their vacant offensive line position.
TURN HEAD AND COUGH: With the expansion draft less than three weeks away, the Texans have shifted their player procurement plans into overdrive by inviting a pair of former Pro Bowlers to Houston to get the once-over from team doctors.
Jaguars offensive tackle Tony Boselli and Ravens return specialist Jermaine Lewis arrived in Houston yesterday and will undergo physicals today. While Lewis has drawn serious interest from Houston -- Lewis himself told the Baltimore Sun earlier this week that he fully expects to be selected during the course of the Feb. 18 draft -- it's Boselli and his medical evaluation that will draw the most interest.
Boselli has stated publicly that his injured shoulders, which required in-season surgery, will not prevent him from being ready for the start of training camp, whether it is for the Texans, the Jaguars, or another NFL team. A source close to the Jaguars confirmed as much to The Insiders, stating that Boselli is ahead of schedule in the rehab of both shoulders and, barring an unexpected setback, could be ready to resume football-related activities as early as June.
Both Jacksonville and Baltimore have a vested interest in their current players performing well on the medical exam side of the Houston's ledger.
The Jaguars will see $8.9 million in immediate cap relief if Boselli is selected by the Texans, which would put a major dent in the $23 million they are over the projected 2002 salary cap figure. The Ravens, who will also likely lose starting linebacker Jamie Sharper and his $3.8 million cap number to the Texans, will clear nearly $8 million off their $20 million cap overage if both Lewis and Sharper are selected.
LEAGUE-WIDE BAUBLES: Reports coming out of both New England and Green Bay indicate that the Packers will have an interest in Patriots wide receiver Terry Glenn if/when he becomes available. It's a near-certainty that Glenn will not be with the Patriots in 2002, although no one is certain when the legal entanglements surrounding the mercurial receiver will allow the pursuit to begin. Both sides of the issue have filed grievances against the other pertaining to his $11.5 million signing bonus, which he was receiving in incremental payments as part of a $50 million contract extension signed in November of 2000. Those payments were stopped after he was suspended by the NFL for violating their substance abuse policy. ... It looks as though the Browns aren't the only NFL team denying key assistant coaches the opportunity for a job promotion with another team. Last week, The Insiders reported that Cleveland had denied Minnesota's request to interview wide receivers coach Terry Robiskie for their coordinator position. Now, Philadelphia has denied Buffalo's request to interview quarterbacks coach Brad Childress for their OC position. ... The Washington Post is reporting that Rams wide receiver Az-Zahir Hakim would seriously consider signing with the Redskins if he hits the open market this offseason. Washington will likely allow Michael Westbrook to enter free agency and will be looking to add a speed receiver to complement Rod Gardner. The Chiefs, coached by former Rams boss Dick Vermeil, are also expected to take a serious peek at Hakim. ... A source close to Packers wide receiver Bill Schroeder tells The Insiders that the soon-to-be free agent will be looking for a signing bonus in excess of $3 million if he hits the open market. Last offseason, Albert Connell and James Thrash received signing bonuses of $2.5 million and $2 million, respectively, with neither reaching Schroeder's level of production during their free-agent seasons. Incidentally, the Packers have yet to contact Schroeder's agent to begin talks on a new contract.