RUMOR CENTRAL: TAYLOR ON THE BROWNS AND THE NFL

<b>Telling it like it is:</b> Texans' geriatric stance could spare Fuller, Boyer from expansion do-over.

Those persons who frequent this site and are still concerned over the possibility of losing Corey Fuller in the expansion draft may be able to rest a bit easier tonight.
 
According to Texans general manager Charlie Casserly, his club will not select any players over the age of 30 during the February 18 draft.  This is the latest in Houston's narrowing of the draft list as they also recently announced that they would only select between 12-18 players, then spend the rest of their cap on younger free agents and, in particular, draft picks.
 
"Anyone over 30 is eliminated," Casserly told the Washington Times.
 
"There are a lot of high-priced players on the [expansion] list, but the free agent market is thin so we'll do more in the draft."
 
Fuller will turn 31 on May 1, thus eliminating himself from consideration if Casserly can be taken at his word.  That would be welcome news to Fuller, who is coming off perhaps the best season of his seven-year career and was extremely upset at the prospect of starting over with yet another expansion franchise.
 
"Of course," a league source tells Bernie's Insiders, "the major reason he was left unprotected in the first place was because we were very confident that he wouldn't be selected."
 
What this could also mean is that linebacker Brant Boyer will not be taken as well.  The eight-year veteran will turn 31 on June 27.
 
Sources close to Boyer, however, still insist that he's a target for the Texans and the 3-4 defense they are expected to utilize.  It must be noted that the Texans have not yet brought Boyer in for physical, which further decreases his chances of being selected despite what those close to him believe.
 
SOAPBOX TIME: So, Arthur B. Modell is upset over one of his employees showing a lack of loyalty.  Whoda thunk it?
 
Following former defensive coordinator Marvin Lewis' decision to bolt Baltimore for neighboring Washington, Modell released a statement in which he lamented the coordinator's move.  In some states, the following quote would allow doctors to declare someone legally insane.
 
"Sometimes, money talks louder than words, and this is an opportunity Marvin felt he had to take.''
 
That sentiment was particularly en vogue back in the mid-90's, wasn't it Uncle Sac?
 
"I'm disappointed that whoever misled us about Marvin staying did that to the Ravens."
 
Yeah, what do you have if you can't take someone at his or her word?
 
That'd be akin to an NFL owner telling an entire city that they would never, ever, ever move a professional football team from a loyal and rabid fan base, then bolting for another city and more money.
 
I know I hate it when people of prominence say one thing, then surreptitiously do the exact opposite. 
 
I can understand your pain, Art.  Almost feels like getting kicked in your little Modells, doesn't it?
 
Or at least having them scraped in a nasty bathroom incident.
 
NORTH-SIDE TIDBITS:  Hold the phone on the Steelers not undergoing any changes to their offensive staff. Quarterbacks coach Tom Clements, who turned down the Jaguars offensive coordinator position and was passed over for the same job with the Bills, will interview with the Chargers for their OC position, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette is reporting. ... While the defensive side of the ball has garnered most of the offseason speculation, the Ravens could see changes on the offensive side as well.  First and foremost among those changes is at the tight end position, where the club is "very seriously considering" releasing Shannon Sharpe and his $3 million base salary, The Insiders has learned.  Those close to the club have confidence that 201 first-round pick Todd Heap can adequately replace Sharpe, who is also contemplating retirement. ... Word out of Cincinnati is that the Bengals may lose their 2001 sack leader -- defensive end Reinard Wilson -- to free agency.  Wilson was a situational pass-rush specialist last season, but still managed a team-high nine sacks.  The Colts are rumored to be very interested in Wilson, and the Bengals will not get into a bidding war for his services. ... Don't look for the Steelers to pay top-market value to retain the services of inside linebacker Earl Holmes.  The club will go balls-to-the-wall to re-sign fellow LB Jason Gildon, but feel they can adequately replace Holmes and do so at a much cheaper rate.  Backup John Fiala, also an unrestricted free agent, is well thought of by the coaching staff and will not command the jack Holmes will on the open market.  With approximately $14 million available, Pittsburgh will also look to sign restricted free agent LB Joey Porter to a long-term deal.
 
IN TRENT THEY TRUST:  Sometimes, it's quite comical how the stock of an NFL player rises and falls throughout his playing career.
 
Case in point: current Seahawks backup Trent Dilfer.
 
One year removed from being unceremoniously dumped by the Ravens despite helping lead the club to a Super Bowl championship, Dilfer has now become one of the hottest properties on the free agent market.  In addition to the Seahawks desire to re-sign the QB, Dilfer will also likely draw interest from the Bengals, Bears and Redskins.
 
With Dilfer looking for a starting assignment, and with Mike Holmgren snowballed by starter Matt Hasselbeck, a return to Seattle is out of the question.
 
As has been reported in this space on numerous occasions, Cincinnati will look to upgrade their pitiful QB situation this offseason via free agency, the draft, or both.  Dilfer's agent, Michael Sullivan, told the Cincinnati Enquirer recently that his client would not be opposed to having his career sucked into the black hole that is Bengals football.
 
(Writer's note: the above was merely my interpretation of Mr. Sullivan's comments, not an actual quote.  Although, to be honest, that's what he meant to say.)
 
Chicago could also be a serious contender for Dilfer as their current general manager -- Jerry Angelo -- was in Tampa Bay when the organization chose the Fresno State product with the 6th pick of the 1994 draft.  In Washington, new head coach Steve Spurrier will leave no stone unturned in getting a QB to run what was expected to be a pass-happy offense.
 
LEAGUE-WIDE BAUBLES:  There is a bit of news coming out of Green Bay that may be of interest to Browns fans in the reading audience.  According to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, running back Dorsey Levens and wide receiver Antonio Freeman are expected to reject the club's request to take pay cuts.  If that indeed happens, both skill position players will be released.  Freeman is scheduled to make $4.3 million in base salary in 2002, while Levens has a $500,000 roster bonus due on March in addition to his $2.5 million base. ... The muddled Tampa Bay coaching search could have a former Browns head coach tossed into the mix.  Several news sources are reporting that current Texans offensive coordinator Chris Palmer, along with Patriots OC Charlie Weis, are at the top of Tampa's current wish list.  In a related story, there is no truth to the rumor that the Glazer brothers have contacted Miss Cleo in an attempt to raise Paul Brown six feet. ... The Broncos are considering allowing starting left tackle Trey Teague leave via free agency and making a run at Jets LT Jason Fabini. ... Word out of San Francisco is that the 49ers will allow all four of their top unrestricted free agents -- running back Garrison Hearst, fullback Fred Beasley, center Jeremy Newberry and safety Lance Schulters -- to become available on the open market.  Even though their cap situation is the best it's been in years, the team still does not have the room to pay top-dollar for the foursome.
 
DRAFT RUMBLINGS:  Much of the draft focus in Detroit centers on the Lions possibly taking a quarterback with the third-overall pick, but don't be surprised if there is a Sooner in the Motor City's future.  A league source has confirmed to The Insiders that the Lions are looking at trading down in the April draft, with their eyes squarely centered on Oklahoma safety Roy Williams.  The secondary is seen as a prime target for Detroit's offseason plans, especially the safety position as starting free safety Kurt Schultz was left unprotected and strong safety Ron Rice is struggling in his return from a neck injury.  The club feels that they must stay within the top ten in order to have a shot at Williams. ... As Lane reported on the Rumor Central forum a month ago, and confirmed through this space's sources, the Bengals are very seriously looking at a cornerback with their first pick -- 10th overall -- in the 2002 draft.  As it stands now, a Cincinnati source told The Insiders, the club has Miami's Phillip Buchanon and Texas' Quentin Jammer in a hear dead heat as the #1 corner on their draft board.  The upcoming Indianapolis Combine and each CB's private workout will play a major role in which player the Bengals select, if they do indeed go the corner route. ... The Bengals aren't the only team looking for a first-round corner as the Titans are also rumored to be sniffing around the position.  Both DeRon Jenkins and Michael Booker are due $1 million roster bonuses on March 1 and could be cap casualties, leaving the club with only Samari Rolle and Andre Dyson -- who the club views as a nickel corner -- and a gaggle of pabulum behind them.  The Titans will select either 14th or 15th, pending the outcome of a coin flip, in the upcoming draft and could use that pick on whichever corner the Bengals may potentially select.

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