Bernie's Insiders Lane Adkins reports this evening that the Browns and Atlanta Falcons LB Matt Stewart have agreed in principle on a multi-year deal which would send the 25-year-old linebacker to the Browns.
Stewart has appeared in all sixteen games for the Falcons for the past three years, and appeared primarily at strongside linebacker last season. In 2004, he registered 71 tackles and 1.5 sacks for Atlanta, along with four pass defenses.
Stewart is likely to play outside linebacker for the Browns, as the team migrates to the 3-4 defensive scheme favored by new head coach Romeo Crennel. An Ohio native, Stewart visited the Browns in the early days of free agency (March 3rd), and has been leaning toward Cleveland despite some interest reported by the Dolphins and 49ers.
There is a possibility that the Browns might try Stewart at inside linebacker, as he does not have the speed that some hope for on the outside. The Browns, however, do not appear to have the candidates at outside linebacker to afford that luxury. Phil Savage has primarily pointed to Chaun Thompson as best fitting the team's model of what the outside linebacker should be, but has not expressed any confidence that the team was set at that position.
Stewart attended college at Vanderbilt and is considered to be the type of smart, versatile player that the Browns are looking to put on their roster under the new regime.