On the FA Defensive

More news on the free-agent defensive front, including a surprise addition to the Browns' offseason to-do list.

STARK(S) REALITY:  According to a source close to Duane Starks, the Browns have expressed a "very serious interest" in the free-agent cornerback. 
 
The organization has spoken with Starks' agent, Drew Rosenhaus, on more than one occasion, although no visit has been scheduled.  The interest on the part of Cleveland has surprised the Starks camp, who put out feelers to the Browns during the initial stages of free agency simply due to the fact that Starks played for Head Coach Butch Davis at the University of Miami.
 
What began as a courtesy call has given credence to the rumblings in this space that the Browns coaching staff are at least considering moving either Corey Fuller or Anthony Henry from corner to safety.
 
In addition to Cleveland, Starks is drawing interest from four other teams -- Cincinnati, Oakland, Arizona and Philadelphia.  All things being equal, Starks would prefer to sign with the Raiders, the source said.
 
A TIGHT-FITTING GLOVE-R?:  The Insiders has learned that the Browns may take a wait and see approach to defensive tackle La'Roi Glover of the New Orleans Saints.  We have confirmed through sources that the Browns have an expressed interest Glover, but will not overpay for his services.

THE OLIVER TWIST:  Scattered reports have placed the Browns at the scene of the signing of restricted free agent offensive lineman Oliver RossThe Insiders has learned that Ross had agreed in principle to a three-year contract offer from the Browns, but nothing has been signed as of this morning. Sources indicate to The Insiders that the Steelers anticipated an offer from the Browns for Ross and have been exploring options to retain him.
 
However, according to a Steelers front office source, it's "highly unlikely" that Pittsburgh will match Cleveland's offer sheet to Ross.  The proposed three-year deal includes a cap figure of nearly $1.6 million in the first year, which the Steelers would have a hard time swallowing for a backup lineman.
 
If the Browns do land Ross, their early inclination is to move him inside and play him at right guard next to newly-signed Ross Tucker.  Tucker playing tackle, of course, is predicated on Cleveland not landing another right tackle -- coughcough VictorRiley coughcough -- during free agency.

WHAT'S UP, HOLMES?:  Linebacker Earl Holmes visited with the Browns on Monday. The Insiders has learned that the meeting went so well that negotiations have begun for the hard-hitting linebacker from the Steel City.

HOLDING PATTERN:  Visits from Kansas City offensive lineman Victor Riley and 49ers running back Garrison Hearst went extremely well and raised the expectations of a very active beginning to the free agency period for Browns fans.  The Insiders has learned that this is the plan of the team, to bring in many free agents and be methodical in their pursuit of these players. At the present time, sources tell The Insiders that Riley intrigues the Browns, but has priced himself out of the Browns plan at this time.  Hearst could be another story.  The Browns would really like to sign the 31-year old running back, but there is one small problem, sources indicate that Hearst would like to return to the 49ers.

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