It's no secret that Butch Davis wouldn't mind having two new safeties in place in the starting lineup next season.
Earl Little, who held up fairly well at strong safety, is best suited as a situational player and a fulltime contributor on special teams. Devin Bush, who moved in at free safety when Percy Ellsworth was shown the door, was an upgrade, but perhaps not enough for Davis' liking.
It must be enticing for Davis to see New York Giants free safety Shaun Williams currently without a contract. Williams has developed into an outstanding talent. In fact, he would be one of the top players available if the Giants let him reach the open market on March 1.
The problem is that Williams would command big bucks. With the Browns expected to spread their money out among several players instead of going after a few big-name players, Williams might be out of their plans.
A more reasonable target could be Chicago strong safety Tony Parrish. The four-year veteran has the size coaches like for the position (5-foot-10, 211 pounds). He was fourth in tackles on a good Bears' defense with 67 (56 solos and 11 assists).
The Bears have plenty of cap space available (an estimated $19 million), but a big chunk of their money will be targeted at securing a quality quarterback. Bears' management has said it would have no problem trading its first-round pick to land a quarterback (insert Drew Bledsoe's name here). Trent Dilfer, who would come cheaper than Bledsoe, has expressed a desire to play in Chicago.
The bottom line is that the Bears expect to lose two or three starters. Parrish is one player they don't anticipate returning for the 2002 season.
A more likely path the Browns could follow is using the draft to strenghten at least one of the safety spots. Oklahoma's Roy Williams would be a perfect fit at strong safety, but he's shooting up the draft charts and appears to be a sure top-10 pick.
Miami's Edward Reed will probably be available when the Browns pick in the middle of the first round. Being a Hurricane doesn't hurt Reed's cause, but he doesn't have ideal size (5-11, 200) or speed.
One name that could surface in training camp at free safety is Michael Jameson, a sixth-round draft choice last year. Jameson missed the entire season because of an ankle injury that required surgery. Health is the key for Jameson, who was slowed by a high ankle sprain most of the 2000 season at Texas A&M.
CENTER OF ATTENTON: The Bears could also lose center Olin Kreutz to free agency. Kreutz, a four-year veteran, was selected to the NFC Pro Bowl roster last season.
Don't think that Davis is convinced that Dave Wohlabaugh is the long-term answer at center. The only lineman Davis is firmly committed to at this time is Ross Verba. If Davis thinks he can upgrade the center position at a reasonable cost, he'd do it.
Still, it seems likely at this time that Wohlabaugh will be back next season.
HARD TO BELIEVE: Houston Texans general manager Charlie Casserly did say that no player 30 or older would be picked in Monday's expansion draft. You still have to wonder if there's any thought of taking a gamble on Corey Fuller.
"We did a mock expansion draft a year ago when I was the general manager of the 31 teams and our scouts picked our players, and I did the pull backs," Casserly said. "The toughest positions to fill are cornerback, offensive line (especially tackle), defensive line and quarterback. That isn't a revelation, but it's true."