The Insiders have learned that the Browns have offered the New Orleans Saints their first round draft selection in the 2002 NFL Draft, and a possible third round selection in the 2003 NFL Draft for Williams.
UPDATE: 5:14 p.m. The Insiders have now learned from a source in Miami that the Dolphins are in talks with the Saints at this time.
UPDATE 5:22 p.m. The Insiders have learned that the Browns have offered their first-round selection in the 2002 NFL Draft as well as a contingent draft selection based on Williams' production in the 2002 season.
UPDATE 5:40 p.m. The Insiders have learned that the Miami Dolphins are in the process of making their final offer to the Saints. The word is that Williams wants his contract re-done in any deal.
UPDATE: 5:59 p.m. In the middle of last week, the Browns, as an organization, made a decision that their first-round pick in the 2002 draft would not be used as bait to lure Ricky Williams to Cleveland.
However, a chain of events has led the Browns to reevaluate their stance and put the first-rounder back on the bargaining table, thereby solidifying their stance as the #1 contenders in the Ricky Derby, The Insiders have learned.
Basically, there were three factors that led to Cleveland's about-face.
One, early feelers put out to the people around Garrison Hearst brought back information that the free-agent running back may be looking to score more signing bonus jack than the Browns were comfortable with, especially considering the devastating ankle injury suffered by Hearst three years ago.
Second, the running backs at the Combine did little to blow the Browns' brass away, not only on the track but, more importantly, off it.
Third, and most importantly, head coach Butch Davis ultimately decided that Williams was indeed the best available choice at the running back position and decided to go balls-to-the-wall in attempting to obtain the three-year veteran's services.
As they have been the last month, the Browns are currently the frontrunners for Williams.
The major sticking point in the negotiations between the Browns and the Saints are two-fold: One, Cleveland wants the conditional pick in next year's draft to be a fourth-rounder that could turn into a third-rounder based on Williams' 2002 on-the-field performance, while New Orleans wants a third-rounder that could become a second-rounder.
The two sides are also squabbling over the performance triggers themselves, with the Browns wanting the bar set at 1,250 yards and 13 touchdowns, while the Saints are seeking a level of 1,200 yards and eight touchdowns.
That being said, one Browns source tells The Insiders that "neither of those two issues will likely be deal-breakers."
"Likely" is the key word, however. As with any negotiation, until the ink is on the paper, nothing is official.
UPDATE 8:30 p.m. More twists to the Ricky story. The Insiders have learned that the Browns have possibly put another offer on the table for Williams. At some point today, the Browns offered the Saints their first-round draft selection, two players, and possibly an undetermined draft selection for Williams and the Saints third-round selection.