While the Browns are normally tight-lipped about the specific financial numbers of any player signing, that doesn't stop Bernie's Insiders from uncovering those numbers.
With that understanding, The Insiders has learned that the two-year contract signed last week by defensive end Tyrone Rogers is worth $1.6 million, and could be worth up to $2.1 million by the end of the deal.
Rogers will have a base salary of $450,000 in 2002 and $750,000 in 2003, at which point he could become an unrestricted free agent. Additionally, Rogers received a combined $400,000 in signing bonus and offseason workout bonuses, with the majority of that being the signing bonus.
There are also $500,000 in incentives built into the deal. While the Browns wanted those incentives to be based on playing time, Butch Davis' liberal rotation of his healthy defensive linemen led Rogers' agent, Brian Withers, to insist on incentives based on sacks.
The inclusion of a signing bonus in the deal for the exclusive rights free agent gives a very strong clue as to how the organization feels about Rogers. Last year, only three of 63 EFA received signing bonuses from their own teams, which means the Browns have put their money where their private lip service is.
It's conceivable that the Browns could head into training camp this July with Rogers penciled in on the depth chart as the starter opposite Courtney Brown. That, of course, depends on whether or not unrestricted free agent Keith McKenzie is re-signed, or another end -- like Reinard Wilson -- is signed during free agency.
HEY, HOLMES: If the Browns are indeed interested in Earl Holmes -- which seems to be the case -- they have two other teams to worry about before acquiring the services of the free agent linebacker.
The Insiders has learned that Indianapolis and New Orleans are the latest team to throw their hat into Holmes' free agent ring, joining Cleveland, Buffalo and Houston as expected suitors.
Pittsburgh has all but ruled out the return of Holmes to the black and gold, although they are leaving the door slightly ajar in case the six-year veteran finds himself wading through a soft market and doesn't receive the type of money he is expecting.
Having recently signed fellow LBs Jason Gildon and John Fiala to multi-year contract extensions, the Steelers are looking to spend their remaining free-agent dollars elsewhere.
BROWNS NOTES: The Browns have shown a very strong early interest in offensive tackle Victor Riley and could have the free agent in Berea for a visit very shortly after the conclusion of the Indianapolis Combine. The organization contacted Riley's agent early this morning and began preliminary discussions about arranging a greet-and-meet between the two sides. After the franchise tagging of several top-tier free agents, Riley has been viewed by most as the best available OT in free agency, certainly the best option for the right side of the line. ... Another offensive lineman of note, Colts guard Steve McKinney, should be expecting a call from the Browns in the very near future. As of early this morning, Cleveland had yet to contact McKinney's representatives, but a source close to McKinney tells The Insiders that may very well change before the end of today. ... Joe Collins, who spent the last three seasons as the Browns' executive player of personnel, has resurfaced in the NFL and taken a job in the Giants' scouting department.
NORTH-SIDE TIDBITS: The Ravens have made a contract proposal to cornerback Duane Starks, but the four-year veteran has opted to hit the open market. A source close to Starks tells The Insiders that the offer was "well below what Duane thinks his market value will be." ... According to the New York Post, former Ravens tight end Shannon Sharpe, who had his contract terminated by the club yesterday, is interested in signing with the Giants. That, however, seems like a remote possibility as Sharpe has been telling those close to him that he will likely return to the Broncos to finish his future Hall of Fame career. Additionally, Tampa Bay and Oakland could be potential destinations for Sharpe. ... The Bengals have added former Ohio State Buckeyes head coach John Cooper to their organization as a consultant/special assistant. As a result of the Cooper hiring, however, the Bengals now stand well above the NFL's "dadgummit" cap limit and may be forced to release some of their older coaches in order to get back under the very stringent guidelines. ... Bengals owner and chief executive penny-pincher Mike Brown told reporters this week that quarterback Chris Chandler is "an option" for the team. The 36-year-old Chandler was released by the Falcons earlier this week.
LEAGUE-WIDE BAUBLES: The Jets and Bucs are involved in trade talks regarding cornerback Donnie Abraham but cannot agree on compensation, The Insiders has learned. Tampa Bay is seeking a third-rounder for the veteran corner, but New York is only offering a fourth- or fifth-round pick. ... In the past few days, the market for Patriots quarterback Drew Bledsoe has unexpectedly been cut in half and could potentially become almost non-existant. The Redskins have all but pulled themselves out of the market for the 29-year-old, while the Bears are closing in on agreement on a long-term contract with Jim Miller. That would seemingly leave the Bengals and Texans as the only major players in the Bledsoe sweepstakes. However, as noted in this space on Wednesday, some members of the Bengals' organization are lobbying for the club to make a run for free agent Trent Dilfer instead of acquiring Bledsoe via trade. In Houston, the Texans are all but set on David Carr as the number one overall pick in the draft and may shy away from a QB like Bledsoe, who would seemingly have a good four-to-six years left in his football tank. Other teams such as Buffalo and Carolina may eventually enter the mix, but, at this point, the market for the former Pro Bowl QB is dwindling with each passing day. ... Dallas sources say that the Cowboys, even though they are approximately $22 million under the $71.1 million salary cap, will likely stay away from big-ticket free agents this offseason. The lone exception, however, could be Saints defensive tac